The Psychology of Machines

The Psychology of Machines

It was perhaps inevitable that as humanity progressed, the next stage of its evolution would involve man-made machines.  Artificial intelligence and machine learning models have found their way into almost every major aspect of our modern lives, whether it be online dating algorithms or the algorithms that determine how we use banks.


But can a machine act intelligently? Are human intelligence and machine intelligence the same?


Despite the pervasiveness of these life-changing algorithms, we don’t have a universal understanding of how they work or how they’re shaping our world. So, a team of two Northeastern University professors, says that it’s time to study artificially intelligent machines the way we study humans.


David Lazer, University Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer and Information Sciences at Northeastern, says-

“We’re seeing an emergence of machines as agents in human society; these are social machines that are making decisions that have real value implications in society.”

For example, when we use a search engine to look for “cures for cancer,” it throws up thousands of results in a matter of seconds. Some of those results are more scientifically sound than others. Search engines use algorithms to determine the relevance of the information they serve up to users. These algorithms can be configured to merely display the most popular results on top.


So, what can a place like Google do about it so that people aren’t getting bad health information?


Lazer, along with Alan Mislove, who is an associate professor in the Khoury College of Computer Sciences at Northeastern, hope to delve more into the How of these artificially intelligent machines-


  • How do these algorithms work?
  • How do they evolve with use?
  • How does artificial intelligence develop a specific behavior?
  • How do algorithms function within a specific social or cultural environment?


Researchers from institutions such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Yale, and the Max Planck Institute, write that it will take people from a host of scientific disciplines to study the way machines behave in the real world.

Ishwarya Varshitha
Ishwarya Varshitha

A voracious reader making a living as an editor in the Media Industry, who in her spare time loves to test her skills as a writer, using words to make the mundane reality more fascinating and the fantastic world of fiction more relatable.

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