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Updated: Jan 21, 2022

This is where the line is drawn between Artificial Intelligence (AI) machines we HAVE created and the AI machines we WILL create. Theory of Mind (ToM) machines are not yet our reality, but scientists have been slowly but surely progressing to realize this technology.

The term ‘Theory of Mind’ is taken from psychology, and the American Psychological Association (APA) defines it as such:

Theory of Mind is “the understanding that others have intentions, desires, beliefs, perceptions, and emotions different from one’s own and that such intentions, desires, and so forth affect people’s actions and behaviors.”

Therefore, the goal is that an AI machine with ToM will be able to understand the entities it is interacting with and adjust its behavior accordingly. These machines will understand that humans have expectations and rapidly changing emotions, which in effect, is one of the many hurdles of creating such advanced machines.

Currently, there are two notable AI robots that demonstrate some aspects of ToM AI. Sophia, created by Dr. Cynthia Breazeal at MIT in 1998 and Kismet, created by Hanson Robotics in 2018. As you can see, this is a slow and complicated process of development.

As Naveen Joshi wrote for Forbes, “... to truly understand human needs, AI machines will have to perceive humans as individuals whose minds can be shaped by multiple factors, essentially “understanding” humans.

When machines finally “understand” all the complexities of human personality and emotion, we will be able to say we have successfully achieved Theory of Mind Artificial Intelligence.

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