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Sci Eng Ethics. 2017 Apr;23(2):403-412. doi: 10.1007/s11948-016-9783-0. Epub 2016 Jun 28.

Can Artificial Intelligences Suffer from Mental Illness? A Philosophical Matter to Consider.

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Imperial College London, 10th Floor QEQM-Building, Praed Street, London, W2 1NY, UK.


The potential for artificial intelligences and robotics in achieving the capacity of consciousness, sentience and rationality offers the prospect that these agents have minds. If so, then there may be a potential for these minds to become dysfunctional, or for artificial intelligences and robots to suffer from mental illness. The existence of artificially intelligent psychopathology can be interpreted through the philosophical perspectives of mental illness. This offers new insights into what it means to have either robot or human mental disorders, but may also offer a platform on which to examine the mechanisms of biological or artificially intelligent psychiatric disease. The possibility of mental illnesses occurring in artificially intelligent individuals necessitates the consideration that at some level, they may have achieved a mental capability of consciousness, sentience and rationality such that they can subsequently become dysfunctional. The deeper philosophical understanding of these conditions in mankind and artificial intelligences might therefore offer reciprocal insights into mental health and mechanisms that may lead to the prevention of mental dysfunction.


Artificial intelligence; Consciousness; Illness; Mental; Philosophy; Psychiatry; Psychoanalysis; Psychology; Psychopathology; Rationality; Robot; Sentience

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