Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Monthly Archive January 2019

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A pile of photographic memories with a pancake photo

How Can Consciousness Be a Material Thing?

Maybe it can’t. But materialist philosophers face starkly limited choices in how to view consciousness
In analytical philosopher Galen Strawson’s opinion, our childhood memories of pancakes on Saturday, for example, are—and must be—"wholly physical." Read More ›
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Facebook’s Secret Censorship Rules Expose a Key Problem

Most moderators are not skilled and have only a few seconds to decide on a post
Censorship is part of the larger question of whether social media are the telephone company (a communications platform), the newspaper (a publisher), or unregulated private klatsches. Or something else altogether? Read More ›
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Your Phone Knows Everything Now

And in a world where no data is anonymous, yours may be sold to the highest bidder
Your location can be a useful guide to your buying habits, whether or not you want to buy anything or think anyone has any business snooping on you to find out. Read More ›
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Research Showing That Fake News Easily Fools Us Collapses

A recent paper claiming that low-quality news (“fake news”) spreads as quickly on social media as accurate news has been retracted by its authors.
A team from the Shanghai Institute of Technology sought to study whether accuracy made any difference to whether a post goes viral on social media. They cited a concern about “the digital misinformation that threatens our democracy.” Read More ›
Amoebae move and feed by using pseudopods, which are bulges of cytoplasm formed by the coordinated action of actin microfilaments pushing out the plasma membrane that surrounds the cell.
Amoebae move and feed by using pseudopods, which are bulges of cytoplasm formed by the coordinated action of actin microfilaments pushing out the plasma membrane that surrounds the cell.

Is an Amoeba Smarter Than Your Computer?

Hype aside, the microbe’s math skills ace the Traveling Salesman problem and may help with cybersecurity
When we hear hype about machines that will soon out-think people, we might put it in perspective by recalling that we still struggle to build a machine that can out-think amoebas looking for crumbs. Read More ›
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It’s 2019: Begin the AI Hype Cycle Again!

Media seemingly can’t help portraying today’s high-tech world as a remake of I, Robot (2004), starring you and me.
I have a problem with the possible outcomes when people who don’t know the difference between technology fact and fiction make important decisions based on information from journalists who write as if every computer is a potential personality like HAL from Space Odyssey 2001. Read More ›
Digital computer brain 3D render floating in right profile view with numerical information background illustrating the concepts of Big Data and artificial intelligence

Consciousness Studies Is a “Bizarre” Field of Science

The question of whether machines can be conscious is bound up with attempts to study immaterial things while denying their existence
The person who is trying to build consciousness into a machine has only a human model so he is trying to build a little human into the machine. He cannot do so but he can try to make himself and others believe that he has done it. Read More ›
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Researchers: Deep Learning Vision Is Very Different from Human Vision

Mistaking a teapot shape for a golf ball, due to surface features, is one striking example from a recent open-access paper
The networks did “a poor job of identifying such items as a butterfly, an airplane and a banana,” according to the researchers. The explanation they propose is that “Humans see the entire object, while the artificial intelligence networks identify fragments of the object.” Read More ›
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AI: Think About Ethics Before Trouble Arises

A machine learning specialist reflects on Micah 6:8 as a guide to developing ethics for the rapidly growing profession
To love mercy sometimes means to give up efficiency. It could mean losing a few points of model accuracy by refusing to take into account features that invade privacy or are proxies for race, leading to discriminatory model behavior. But that’s OK. The merciful are willing to give up some of their rights and advantages so they can help others.   Read More ›
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Will artificial intelligence design artificial super-intelligence?

And then turn us all into super-geniuses, as some AI researchers hope? No, and here's why not
Because Moore's law is an exponential law, the numbers multiply rapidly and we could hit the physical limit rather suddenly. Current indications are that Moore’s law’s speed has already slowed or even ceased to be a true description of the IT industry today. Read More ›
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Can an Algorithm Be Racist?

No, the machine has no opinion. It processes vast tracts of data. And, as a result, the troubling hidden roots of some data are exposed
It’s tempting to assume that a villain lurks behind such a scene when the exact opposite is the problem: A system dominated by machines is all calculations, not thoughts, intentions, or choices. If the input is wrong, so is the output. Read More ›