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Can a Machine Know That We Know What It Knows?

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Cognitive scientists have been exploring ways to test what sorts of mental capacities large language models like ChatGPT do and don’t possess.

Credit: vrvr/Alamy

Mind reading is common among us humans. Not in the ways that psychics claim to do it, by gaining access to the warm streams of consciousness that fill every individual's experience, or in the ways that mentalists claim to do it, by pulling a thought out of your head at will. Everyday mind reading is more subtle: We take in people's faces and movements, listen to their words and then decide or intuit what might be going on in their heads.

Among psychologists, such intuitive psychology — the ability to attribute to other people mental states different from our own — is called theory of mind, and its absence or impairment has been linked to autism, schizophrenia and other developmental disorders. Theory of mind helps us communicate with and understand one another; it allows us to enjoy literature and movies, play games and make sense of our social surroundings. In many ways, the capacity is an essential part of being human.

What if a machine could read minds, too?

From The New York Times
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