It's time to study machines the way we study humans

By Molly Callahan

Artificial intelligence and machine learning models can be found in almost every aspect of modern life. News-ranking algorithms determine which information we see online, compatibility algorithms influence the people we date, and ride-hailing algorithms affect the way we travel. 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 researchers—including two Northeastern University professors—says that it’s time to study artificially intelligent machines the way we study humans.

A new paper published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature calls upon scientists from across various disciplines to unite in studying machine behavior. For years, scientists have studied the function, causes, development, and evolutionary history of human behavior. With intelligent machines doing more and more of our collective ‘thinking,’ the same interdisciplinary approach needs to be applied to understanding machine behavior, the authors say. 

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