Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Monthly Archive October 2018

Ice cream chocolate and vanilla sundae topping with red cherry.

A Short Argument Against the Materialist Account of the Mind

You can simply picture yourself eating a chocolate ice cream sundae.
We have thoughts and ideas—what philosophers call “intentional” states—that are about things other than themselves. We don’t really know how this works. But whenever we speak to another person, we assume it must be true. And in our own case, we know it’s true. Even to deny it is to affirm it. Read More ›
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Does brain stimulation research challenge free will?

If we can be forced to want something, is the will still free?
The materialist interpretation of Reilly’s work is a misunderstanding of what the research actually shows. The stimulations did not evoke complex abstract intentions and acts—the patients didn’t reflexively decide to do integral calculus or donate to Amnesty International. Read More ›
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Hacks damage Facebook, kill Google+

The internet changes everything. For example, it makes the Big Guys more vulnerable, not less vulnerable, than bit players
Facebook gets blamed for everything from what Russia does to what American voters do. But the people who seem to think Mark Zuckerberg and company have superpowers for changing the world are mistaken. Facebook was not able to fend off a damaging hack. Read More ›
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Did AI teach itself to “not like” women?

No, the program did not teach itself anything. But the situation taught the company something important about what we can safely automate.

Back in 2014, it was a “holy grail” machine learning program, developed in Scotland, that would sift through online resumes, using a one-to-five star rating system and cull the top five of 100, saving time and money. Within a year, a problem surfaced: It was “not rating candidates for software developer jobs and other technical posts in a gender-neutral way.”

Read More ›
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The Spiritual Side of a Digital Society

Spiritual issues surface when software is everywhere
The more that software encompasses the whole of life, the more it needs to take into account the whole of the person using it. Read More ›
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Does your brain construct your conscious reality? Part II

In a word, no. Your brain doesn't "think"; YOU think, using your brain
The brain understands nothing, imagines nothing, sees nothing. It wills nothing. We understand, we imagine, we see, and we will, using our brains. Read More ›
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Does your brain construct your conscious reality? Part I

A reply to computational neuroscientist Anil Seth's recent TED talk
His talk is a breathtaking compendium of fallacies on the mind and the brain. We can learn a lot from him—by understanding the errors into which he falls and the way out of those errors. Read More ›
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I, Robot, am gathering dust in the sales room …

Why do robotics experts think that customers will warm to robots because they look like people?
The underlying assumption is surely incorrect. Robots like the Roomba succeed in part because they don’t look or act like people, let alone threaten people. They just do jobs people would prefer not to do or maybe can’t. Read More ›
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Google boss quits, writes satirical novel

The novel is said to be so far-fetched that it captures the environment
Recently, we’ve looked at a number of complaints about the way Silicon Valley is acquiring too much power over people’s lives, at home and abroad, and reaching deep into the compulsory school system as well. A former employee decided to respond creatively. Read More ›
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Remember those awful Seventies TV ads?

The new “attention economy” killed that kind of advertising. But what now?
One way of describing the change is that we now live in an attention economy rather than a captive time economy, so far as advertising is concerned. Read More ›
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People-friendly robots company shuts down

The “cobots,” robots that can work with people, got the pink slip—for now
Robotics is a business like any other. The individual good idea requires a business plan that can survive savage years in the wilderness before the buyout. That said, we certainly haven’t heard the last of the cobot, which may be one of the ideas that make robotics practical for everyday business. Read More ›
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Who built AI? You did, mostly

Along with millions of others, you are providing free training data
For AI to work you need data. The most innovative players in the AI space have learned how to get users to willingly and gladly provide them with data for free. Read More ›
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Knowledge is power, sort of…

If that’s ALL knowledge is, the resulting science is bound to be limited, says Michael Egnor
If you are trying to predict the course of a cannonball, Newtonian mechanics are adequate. If you are trying to understand the mind of the guy who fired the cannon, you need to look much deeper. Read More ›
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Deep Learning won’t solve AI

AlphaGo pioneer: We need “another dozen or half-a-dozen breakthroughs”
Hassabis: "AlphaGo doesn't understand language but we would like them to build up to this symbolic level of reasoning — maths, language, and logic. Read More ›
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Are sex robots a cure for loneliness?

Maybe, in a culture where people see themselves as machines
Nancy Pearcey, who is the author of Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality, reminds us that the most popular metaphor for the universe today is a vast machine. Read More ›