Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Monthly Archive March 2019

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Are 3-D Virtual Fossils a Boon or a Threat?

Many paleontologists fear losing control of the story

One of the characteristics of information is that, unlike matter and energy, it is not reduced by being shared. And when it is shared, it can generate new information. Of course, some well-sourced new information may contradict earlier ideas or even important beliefs.

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SXSW 2019: Grappling with AI’s immense culture shifts

Panelists Robert J. Marks and Jay Richards spot the human advantage in an AI-driven culture

From homeschooled teens to high-tech entrepreneurs to retired doctors to University of Texas students, Christ Church was full of Austinites trying to understand what the rapid growth of AI technologies means for their future.

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business, technology, mass media and people concept - close up of male hand holding transparent smartphone with internet news web page on screen

Random Thoughts on Recent AI Headlines

There is usually a story under those layers of hype but not always the one you thought

When Thomas Sowell was writing his syndicated column on economics, I always looked forward to his sporadically appearing “Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene.” Reminding readers that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I offer my own “Random Thoughts on Recent AI Headlines.”

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STEM Education 8: Help Create Creativity

Creativity diminishes with age, in part because we dig ourselves into ruts that limit our field of view.

An aging STEM nerd digs more and deeper ruts and creative thinking becomes more and more difficult. For this reason, I remain tolerant of graduate students with new and seemingly wacky ideas.

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Shattered visage

Will AI shatter human exceptionalism?

Proving that humans are just another animal might help save the planet, writer says

The advantage of adding talk of evolution to transhumanism is that it turns a perennial tale of immortality just out of reach into a chronicle of inevitable ascent, like the fabled “Ascent of Man.”

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Universal Basic Income? Fear of AI Fuels Bad Economics

If new technology led to mass permanent unemployment, history would be an endless saga of expanding joblessness

Although the coming shift will be abrupt, new technologies enable us to focus, as economists would put it, on our comparative advantage over machines. 

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AI Dangers That Are Not Just Fake News

Total surveillance should worry us more than an AI news writing machine

Those who control a new communications technology typically have a great advantage over those who don’t—whether that technology is an alphabet, an abacus, a printing press, a telegraph, a telephone, or a software communications program.

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STEM Education 7: Sell the Sizzle

The mathematics underlying our world is fascinating and full of surprises

In my experience, true STEM nerds are always pursuing some type of sizzle even in their spare time. Generally, the higher the academic degree, the greater the freedom STEM nerds have to pursue their sizzle of choice.

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Character from Zoe sitting in chair

A Mind Matters Review: Zoe (2018), an Android’s Love Story

Underlying assumptions aside, it's a great film with good acting and believable dialogue

Zoe is a great film but it presents a storyline often used to show how inexplicable and ineffable love is in order to get me to believe that it isn’t.

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Newspaper clippings used in umbrella design

Who’s Afraid of AI that Can Write the News?

AI now automates formula news in business and sports. How far can it go?

Software programs will not have more or better ideas than the people who designed them. As the audience for news, we must decide whether that level of information is all we need to know.

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Colorful bluestreak cleaner wrasse on black background.
A bluestreak cleaner wrasse, Labroides dimidiatus, on a black background. This small colorful fish can be found on coral reefs Africa, Red Sea and Polynesia

Did a fish just show self-awareness?

What if the whole question is founded on a mistake about the nature of the mirror test?

Overall, it’s a curious outcome for the mirror test. Those who felt reassured by close kinship with chimpanzees reacted quite differently when offered close kinship with fish.

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Scapula on the background of fertile soil. Place for the text. The concept of agriculture. Metal garden tools
Scapula on the background of fertile soil. Place for the text. The concept of agriculture. Metal garden tools

Scientism is not a cure for stupidity

But never mind, quite a few science savants have rushed in fearlessly

A science writer tackled a big issue recently: stupidity. Who does he ask? Why, scientists of course. Surprisingly enough, it’s a question few scientists have grappled with, perhaps out of a desire not to wade into a subject that could so easily offend. After all, the field of intelligence studies is rife with controversy. Ross Pomeroy “What is Stupidity?” at Real Clear Science But never mind, quite a few science savants, unafraid to offend, have rushed in: Evolutionary biologist David Krakauer, President of the Santa Fe Institute,told Nautilus, “Stupidity is using a rule where adding more data doesn’t improve your chances of getting [a problem] right. In fact, it makes it more likely you’ll get it wrong.” I won’t contradict Read More ›

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Silhouette of a female as training her dog - website banner

The Real Reason Why Only Human Beings Speak

Language is a tool for abstract thinking—a necessary tool for abstraction—and humans are the only animals who think abstractly

In his discussion of why only humans have language, science writer Tom Siegfried gets a lot right, but he misses the crucial reason.

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