Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Monthly Archive April 2019

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Does Social Ability Distinguish Human Intelligence from That of Apes?

Not altogether, of course, but it plays a bigger role than we sometimes assume

In Becoming Human: A Theory of Ontogeny, professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Michael Tomasello tries to understand, from his two decades of research, what makes humans unique. He says that it is not intelligence as such but social intelligence, our “ultra social ability”: One of our most important studies was a huge study we did with over 100 human children and over 100 chimpanzees. We gave them a big battery of tests – a big IQ test if you will. It covered understanding of space, causality, quantities, as well as social learning, communication, reading the intentions of others. We found that 2-year-old children – before they can read or do anything mathematical – look just like the apes on physical Read More ›

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Big Data Can Lie: Simpson’s Paradox

Simpson’s Paradox illustrates the importance of human interpretation of the results of data mining

Simpson’s Paradox illustrates the need for seasoned human experts in the loop to examine and query the results from Big Data. Could AI be written to perform this operation? Those who say yes are appealing to an algorithm-of-the-gaps.

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Ancient symbols texture, Petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock, Utah, USA.

The Origin of Language Remains Obscure

One problem is that information is not measured in science in a way that relates to matter and energy.

Human language is much more than a system of signals. And two recent articles in Inference Review provide insight into some of its ongoing puzzles in the huge unmapped territory of the interaction between the mind and the brain.

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Thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) in bloom

Researchers: Yes, Plants Have Nervous Systems Too

Not only that but, like mammals, they use glutamate to speed transmission

Nature is so full of information whose origin we cannot really account for under currently acceptable hypotheses but nothing prevents us from using it to our advantage in the meantime.

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Walter Bradley Center Fellow Discovers Longstanding Flaw in an Aspect of Elementary Calculus

The flaw doesn't lead directly to wrong answers but it does create confusion.

The lead author, Jonathan Bartlett, noted that the likely source of the bad notation was a philosophical issue. Because no one wanted to give differentials that same ontological status as other numbers, everyone presumed that the notational problems were simply the result of this fact, and no one pursued it further.

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George Gilder, Jay Richards, and Robert J. Marks at Dallas Launch of Walter Bradley Center

Robert J. Marks: Are There Things About Human Beings That You Cannot Write Code For?

Bradley Center director Marks asks that question, relating the Center’s goals to human aspirations

“I think the most interesting and the most testable thing humans can do that you can't write code for is creativity,” Dr. Marks told the gathering. Understanding AI properly should lead to celebration rather than fear.

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Study: Cats Do Recognize Their Names

They recognize them as signals but not as abstractions

It’s a sobering fact that the war on human exceptionalism makes nonsense of our ability to understand animals. If we start with the fact that a cat cannot understand abstractions like “my name” because he is not a reasoning creature, we can intuit that most cats can learn human sounds that make a difference to them anyway.

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Transhumanism, the Lazy Way to Human ‘Improvement’

Transhumanists don’t seem much interested in such real improvements in the human condition. They want quick, easy technological fixes

The transhumanist movement swoons over increasing intelligence. If I had to choose between increasing the intelligence of the human race versus enhancing our capacity to love, the human race would be far better off embracing the latter than the former. There is no brain implant for that.

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I spy AI. And AI spies on me…

The true threat posed by AI is the greatly reduced cost and risk of mass surveillance and manipulation

Some people are quite sure that the world would be a better place if they knew more about our business and policed it better. Mass snooping creeps up unnoticed and becomes a way of life. Then it explodes.

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A Mind Matters Review: Sci-Fi Shorts of the Week

With human input, Sunspring starts to make sense

This week, watch a collaboration between deep learning and human creativity produce something far more coherent than Sunspring. And check out an animation on the pitfalls of emotional intelligence.

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Does “Alien Hand Syndrome” Show That We Don’t Really Have Free Will?

One woman’s left hand seemed to have a mind of its own. Did it?

Alien hand syndrome doesn’t mean that free will is not real. In fact, it clarifies exactly what free will is and what it isn’t.

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AI Is Not a Simple Fix for Plagiarism

The internet speeded up a perennial problem without changing it

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, plagiarism amounts to passing ourselves off as experts without tears. It’s not realistic to expect software to detect all of the subtleties.

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Baylor University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering Walter Bradley recalled for the audience at the Dallas launch, November 4, 2018

Walter Bradley: Tell People about AI, not Sci-Fi

His struggle to bring reality to“sci-fi” origin of life research is the Center’s inspiration

The Bradley Center hopes to have a similar effect by promoting more general knowledge of fundamental issues around “thinking computers and the real effects of technology on human well-being.

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Your Phone Is Selling Your Secrets

You’d be shocked to know what it tells people who want your money

Big tech companies have an ambiguous relationship with online invasions of privacy. The companies may be able to make much more money selling information about you than you would pay them to use their medium.

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