Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Monthly Archive July 2019

relaxed man in autonomous car. self driving vehicle. autopilot. automotive technology.

Should Tesla’s Autopilot Feature Be Illegal?

A recent study from the United Kingdom suggests that maybe it should

Tesla may tell drivers that Autopilot is not the same as a self-driving car. But, just as cell phone manufacturers’ warnings not to “text and drive” are too often unheeded, so too may be Tesla’s warnings.

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New Hacking Tactics

Many Parents Ignore Risks of Posting Kids’ Data Online

The lifelong digital footprint, which starts before birth, makes identity theft much easier
The recently discovered “design flaw” in Facebook’s Messenger app, aimed at kids, was a wake-up call. Keeping a child’s data out of the wrong hands is just part of good parenting today. Read More ›
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Stones balanced on table with a pen

Can Computer Algorithms Be Free of Bias?

Bias is inevitable but it should be recognized and admitted

Gregory Coppola’s revelations about Google’s politically biased search engine shone a spotlight on how algorithms are written.

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Chaotic particles with random size. Twisted massive of particles with glow.
Abstract background 3d render. Chaotic particles with random size. Twisted massive of particles with glow.

No Materialist Theory of Consciousness Is Plausible

All such theories either deny the very thing they are trying to explain, result in absurd scenarios, or end up requiring an immaterial intervention

Consciousness is the biggest problem for materialism. How is it possible that a bunch of particles that are devoid of consciousness get together and cause consciousness?

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Three managers in city, social network

Should Engineers Think Like Computers?

To limit ourselves to the symbolic logic that computers can do is to leave our humanity behind
Symbolic logic says nothing about the truth or reality of what you give it. To understand what things really are, you have to get outside the pristine mathematical structure of symbolic logic and embrace what Prof. Kreeft calls Socratic logic. Read More ›
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Chain link fence obscuring brake lights

When High Tech Must Be Kept Secret

Universities that do national defence research try to manage the tension between intellectual freedom and national security

A plasma physics professor who interpreted the “fundamental research exception” too loosely ended up in jail.

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Hand pulling colorful wooden block from the tower in as Risk or stability concept

Google Engineer Reveals Search Engine Bias

He found Google pretty neutral in 2014; the bias started with the US 2016 election

The algorithms—the series of commands to computers—“don’t write themselves,” Coppola says. People who have their own opinions may write them into an algorithm, knowingly or otherwise.

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digital city scape with digit number elements illustration

Can We Write Creative Computer Programs?

As Robert J. Marks tells World Radio, people have tried making computers creative but no luck
The Bradley Center director pointed out, in a wide-ranging discussion, that programmers cannot write programs that are more creative than they themselves are. Read More ›
word taxi (2)

Even Elon Musk Can’t Get a Robotaxi These Days

His recent earnings call makes clear that few think his promised million-taxi fleet is real-world
I get the feeling that even Musk's faithful followers are beginning to doubt the hype and are instead focusing on the core business aspects, the questions Musk dismissed last year as boring. Read More ›
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We Built the Power Big Social Media Have Over Us

Click by click, and the machines learned the patterns. Now we aren’t sure who is in charge

We’re stuck, working for free, training the Web giants’ ML systems to reap benefits for them while enduring (assuming we notice) the downsides.

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Spot on the road with shoes of people gathered around it.

Jordan Peterson’s New “Thinkspot” Takes Shape

Analysts ask, can his proposed rules work?

What about the problem of expecting people to pay? Perhaps most people are so used to getting their social media for free for the same reasons as turkeys get their feed for free—because they’re the product—that they willingly submit to censorship?

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George Gilder talking with Peter Robinson at the Hoover Institution

George Gilder on the Real-Life Prospects — and Limits — of AI

Gilder, who is organizing the COSM conference in Bellevue, Washington, in October, clears the fog about “the cloud”

The “cloud” of cloud computing, that Gilder predicted, is things, not ideas. Thus it is subject to the limits of things, as opposed to the limits of ideas. It’s reasonable to ask where that limit is. It is probably both a question and an answer that we can understand.

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Person's face with eyes obstructed by hands

High Tech Can Help the Blind See and Amputees Feel

It’s not a miracle; the human nervous system can work with electronic information

The electronic devices communicate directly with sensory areas of the brain, bypassing damaged or destroyed eyes and limbs. 

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nerve cells, Neurologic Disease, tumors,brain surgery

A Materialist Neuroscientist Continues the Argument with Himself

On the topic of “intellectual seizures,” he seems committed to both points of view

I assert that intellectual seizures do not exist. Dr. Ali asserts that they do exist and that they do not. The difference between their existence and their non-existence seems to be Dr. Ali’s rhetorical needs of the moment.

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Car top taxi sign

Even Uber didn’t believe in Uber’s self-driving taxis

We found that out after Google’s Waymo sued the company

Optimism is not driving the recent collaboration and corporate consolidation in the self-driving car industry. Rather, their retrenchment is protection against an uncertain future.

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Different types of computers and storage

Is the Human Mind a Computer?

As a software engineer, I'd say we need to be clear what the question is before answering it

Once we understand clearly what a computer is, we will see why consciousness is not a form of computation.

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Young man (backpacker, hitchhiker) on the high-speed highway not far from Kashgar in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in China’s far west

The Internet Doesn’t Free Anyone by Itself

China is testing 100% surveillance on the Uighurs, a strategically critical minority

The Uyghur people in Xinjiang province in northwest China spend their lives in a digital panopticon. Over 2.5 million Muslims are tracked via facial recognition software and cameras, and their cell phone monitored for any language that could be construed as religious. Over a million have been placed in so-called “vocational training centers” that are widely described as detention camps. Even when not detained, they live like prisoners: For Uyghurs in Xinjiang, any kind of contact from a non-Chinese phone number, though not officially illegal, can result in instant arrest. Most Uyghurs in Turkey have been deleted by their families on social media. And many wouldn’t dare try to make contact, for fear Chinese authorities would punish their relatives. Isobel Read More ›

Drawing gears

We went back to visit Gödel, Escher, and Bach…

Forty years after publication, how has a big explain-the-mind book withstood the test of time?

Is there evidence that human minds function like computers and can soon be reproduced in software, as Hofstadter believed?

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Lady obstructs view of her face with her hands

You Think You Have Nothing To Hide?

Then why are Big Tech moguls making billions from what you and others tell them?

The bottom line is this: if you think you don’t have anything to hide, then you don’t understand how the modern data economy really works, nor the impact of being caught in a riptide of public opinion.

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