It sounds like the beginning of a bad riddle, “How many scientists does it take to change a computer from perfectly normal to schizophrenic?” A team of researchers at University of Texas decided to infect their computers with schizophrenia, attempting to investigate the mechanisms of schizophrenia in patients. You may ask, “How does one make a computer schizophrenic? Is that even possible?”
“Their schizophrenic computer model consisted of a neural network called DISCERN that is able to learn natural language. They taught DISCERN a series of simple stories, which were stored into DISCERN’s memory in much the same way that the human brain stores information. For the schizophrenia model, the researchers trained DISCERN with the same stories a second time. However, they simulated an excess release of dopamine by increasing DISCERN’s rate of learning, analogous to making it stop forgetting information.
The result was that DISCERN would generate delusional, practically nonsensical stories: random disassociated sentences and jumps from first- to third-person. In one instance, that this type of research DISCERN even claimed responsibility for a terrorist bombing!”
Does making a computer schizophrenic seem, well, crazy? Maybe, but the hope is that this type of modeling will help with clinical research and lead to better understanding of this condition.