Research Nugget #5

Citation: Megill, J. (2014). Emotion, Cognition and Artificial Intelligence. Minds & Machines24(2), 189-199. doi:10.1007/s11023-013-9320-8

The article that I am doing my 5th research nugget on is titled as, Emotion, Cognition and Artificial Intelligence

What this article is saying is that, if AI cans function to the best of the it’s ability without the use of emotion, and just how important is emotion? It is said that without emotions, then the machines will fall short of human intelligence. One main thing that makes humans far more superior than any other species or machines, is because of our use of emotion. The article also mentioned that with the use of our emotions, certain cognition roles are strengthened. But it also mentions that because of emotions that we are weak in some areas and that is where machines will be more superior.

“One cognitive ability in which emotion seems to play a role is selective attention. It is a familiar fact that we generally focus on particular aspects of our environment while simultaneously ignoring many others; that is, some objects or events in our immediate surroundings become the focus of our attention, while others do not. “

“In sum, there is a massive (and growing) amount of empirical evidence from neuroscience and cognitive psychology that shows that emotion plays an important role in certain cognitive abilities (attention, the frame problem, facial recognition and so on) and so in cognition in general. One reoccurring theme is that emotions serve as ‘‘cognitive bookmarks’’ that give some cognitive states or objects in the environment a certain salience or importance over others etc. It appears that emotion often governs the flow of information. Emotion helps determine the information that we notice in our environment; the information that will get stored in memory; the information in our memory that will be brought to mind in a certain situation; and so on. “

One thing that emotion plays is out cognitive skills, and they range from many different aspects. One main thing is the skill of selective attention in which we focus on certain  aspects while ignoring the rest.  For example, if a group of humans were in the jungle and all of a sudden a fire started, their main focus will be the fire because of fear, and they would ignore everything else around them such as poisonous plants, or animals and so on. With machines and their lack of emotion, the issue of selective attention will not be present, instead they will be focused on all different aspects of the environment around them. So lets create another scenario. two different building fires, two teams of firefighters go into  each of the building, a team of humans and a team of machines. The building that the humans go into, they hear screams of civilians trapped in the upper floors and they rush to their rescue, only after saving them will the worry about the fire. On the other hand, the team of machines, while looking  at the fire, they also hear screams of civilians, but instead of rushing to their rescue they scan the rest of the building and instead find a way to subdue the fire then go in. They don’t understand that fire imposes fear into humans but they instead do what is logically and mathematically correct. Now this method can be both a good thing and a bad thing.

A good thing in the aspect that these machines will do what is right and what is most effective rather than putting their life at risk. If they think that putting out the fire is more important than going in and saving civilians they will do that. However, they don’t have that value for human life if emotion is not part of their programming. This is what humans more superior, we will risk our lives to save others because of emotion, sometimes if we don’t do anything we have that guilt for the rest of our lives, unlike machines.


2 thoughts on “Research Nugget #5”

  1. Nikhil, Are the two scenarios YOUR ideas, or are they taken from the article? They definitely illustrate the role that emotions play in prioritizing how we will act — and also what we remember, which also impacts our behaviors. Does Megel fault AI for lack of emotion? It seems, at least from my skimming of the article, that he wants to argue that machines can still perform effectively even without the ability to feel emotions.
    This whole concept of AI and emotion could be the sole focus on your paper. It’s pretty fascinating. I don’t see how this article and your #6 go together in any way.
    Your job is to make connections between your sources for the reader. Do you see any connections between this article and earlier articles, or between #6 later, and this article?

  2. This reading reminded me of the book “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” where emotions were the only way they were able to figure out whether someone was human or not.

    Maybe it is a good thing machines do not have emotions so that they respond in a different way than humans. In the end being a better half or a more positive impact on us.

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