Lack of Sleep Could Be a Problem for Artificial Intelligence

AI Sleeping

Some types of artificial intelligence could start to hallucinate if they don’t get enough rest, just as humans do. Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory

One of the distinguishing features of machines is that they don’t need to sleep, unlike humans and any other creature with a central nervous system. Someday though, your toaster might need a nap from time to time, as may your car, fridge and anything else that is revolutionized with the advent of practical artificial intelligence technologies.

The change will come when (and if) AI systems that mimic living brains are incorporated into the wide range of devices that currently rely on conventional computers and microprocessors to help us through the day. At least that’s the implication of new research that we are conducting in Los Alamos National Laboratory to understand systems that operate much like the neurons inside living brains.

Our realization came about as we worked to develop neural networks that closely approximate how humans and other biological systems learn to see. We were investigating the way that these simulated networks respond to unsupervised dictionary training. In this sort of activity, networks set about classifying objects without having prior examples with which to compare them. Imagine handing many images of exotic animals to a child, and asking them to group similar ones together. The child might not know what an antelope is, but they would place them in a separate pile from the lions or penguins, for example.

Read the rest of the story as it appeared in Scientific American.

4 Comments on "Lack of Sleep Could Be a Problem for Artificial Intelligence"

  1. Wow, what a great science fiction plot. AI’s start to wear out, because they need to sleep and dream. They need time to meditate on what they have observed, without the burden of sensory inputs. So turn off AI’s cameras, microphones and all other sensors, and just let the program mull things over. Ah…. sleep.

  2. What? Where’s the science behind that conclusion? This is my last time here! I just cant stand (or afford) an article with a catchy title that gives information that is more im line with science fiction… Oh well

  3. It’s hard to imagine that our household products might need a nap from time to time. But the fact is we worked to develop AI that closely approximate how humans learn to see.

  4. Note: “Sleep” in this study is not simply turning an electronic device off; our brains do not *die* while we’re asleep, for Pete’s sake. What the researchers tested was introduction of periods of very rhythmic activity input. This was considered to be similar to the slow-wave patterns of neurological activity our brains exhibit while we sleep.

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