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Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Monthly Archive September 2019

Game's white and black stone on cross board.

Alpha Go as Alpha Maybe?

DeepMind's AlphaGo defeated a world-champion Go player but further gains were hard won at best
The question scientists must ask, especially about an unexpected finding, is, if no one can reproduce your results, did you discover something new or did you just get lucky? With AI that’s not easy, due to dependence on randomness. Read More ›
Composite image of interface

Google Glass Inventor to Speak at COSM, October 25

Babak Parviz, now an Amazon vice-president, is keenly interested in services for the swelling aged population worldwide
Joining Parviz on the panel will be Matt Scholz, CEO of Oisin Technologies (researching treatments for age-related diseases), George Gilder, philosopher of technology, and Lindy Fishburne, executive director of Breakout Labs, which funds innovative science ventures. Read More ›
Feeling good and smiling young women with smart phone in park,wa

Canadian Province to Ban Cell Phones from Classrooms

Education experts are cautiously hopeful about reducing distraction and cyberbullying
France and a number of jurisdictions in Britain, as well as some American ones, have already instituted such bans and several studies have identified subsequent improvements in schoolwork. Read More ›
rodrigo-de-mendoza-Dg0-_ioXtng-unsplash

Ask Alexa (and an anonymous crowd answers?)

Amazon is testing a crowd sourcing approach to difficult questions. How did that work out at Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is a classic example of how crowdsourcing can go wrong. The obvious problem is anonymity and the lack of accountability that goes with it.

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Sport and travel memory photos on a table

Do We Actually Remember Everything?

Neuroscience evidence suggests that our real problem isn’t with remembering things but finding our memories when we need them

One of a pioneer neurosurgeon’s cases featured a patient who could, unaccountably, speak ancient Greek. The explanation was not occult but it was surely remarkable for what it shows about memory.

Read More ›
PC displaying brain waves of male patient at lab
Selective focus on a computer recording brain waves of a mature gentleman getting his brain analyzed by an electroencephalography machine.

Was famous old evidence against free will just debunked?

The pattern that was thought to prove free will an illusion may have been noise

The participants in the experiment did not sense that their decision about flexing their fingers mattered, so they went with the flow. But, according to more recent research, the subjective experience of making a decision is not an illusion at all.

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Friends talking to each

Facebook Gets Rich Off What We Tell Our Friends

Social media pioneer David Gelernter also has a proposal for sharing the wealth more fairly

Yale University computer science prof David Gelernter, “a leading figure in the third generation of artificial intelligence” (Edge.org). social networks pioneer, and Unabomber survivor, discusses his idea in a podcast at The Federalist Radio Hour.

Read More ›
Popping water balloon / highspeed image
Popping water balloon / highspeed image

Fast Facts re the Google, Facebook Anti-Trust Probes

The 48-state pile-on comes just before an election year

The accusations by American states of a Big Social Media stranglehold on advertising come on the heels of the European Union fining Google $billions in recent years for anti-competitive activities.

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Stack of books with laptop

Has Aristo broken bounds for thinking computers?

The Grade 8 graduate improves on Watson but we must still think for ourselves at school. Here’s why
Aristo combines questions and answers on a multiple-choice test to decide on the best answer without understanding any of the information. Read More ›
silhouette of business people networking on cyberspace

Your Software Could Have More Rights Than You

Depending on politics and court judgments, legal loopholes could lead to AI personhood

We have already witnessed an example of such an indignity. and consequent outrage, from many feminist scholars when Sophia the robot was granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia, a country notorious for unequal treatment of women.

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スマートスピーカー

Alexa Really Does Not Understand Us

In a recent test, only 35 percent of the responses to simple questions were judged adequate
Actually, I am impressed that voice assistants work as well as they do, given the number of AI problems that were solved. But consider how much more complex the problems facing a self-driving car are. Read More ›
Sock monkey using a computer

Why can’t monkeys typing forever produce Shakespeare?

Before communication can begin, there must be an intention to communicate

Practitioners in the field of artificial intelligence often assume that intent does not matter in defining intelligence or that intent does not exist, that it is a useful illusion. Neither of these two approaches will work. Real communication requires intent.

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golden angelic character rising from black liquid. 3d illustration

Do Churches Need a Catechism for Robots?

Are the claims about spiritual robots just an intellectual cottage industry for edgy clergy?

Some people have taken Pope Francis’s musings in recent years to mean pretty much whatever they want them to mean. For example, But Francis’s wide arms have arguably never stretched further than a mass in 2014 when he suggested the church would baptize Martians. “If—for example—tomorrow an expedition of Martians came … and one says, ‘But I want to be baptized!’ What would happen?” Pope Francis asked. “When the Lord shows us the way, who are we to say, ‘No, Lord, it is not prudent! No, let’s do it this way.’” Jonathan Merritt, “Is AI a Threat to Christianity?” at The Atlantic (February 3, 2017) Merritt promptly converts the hypothetical question—which depends, of course, on the assumption that Martians are Read More ›

Group of kids walk over high log in the forest
Group of kids walk over high log in the forest finding balance with hands one after another view from bellow

If Computers Are Intelligent, Climbing a Tree Is Flying

That, says Edward Feser, is the take-home message from Gary Smith’s book, The AI Delusion

The book’s message is that “the real danger of artificial intelligence is that it will remain dumber than we are,” but we will think it is smarter.

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China Button

The Unadvertised Cost of Doing Business with China

It’s a big market, with one Big Player, and some strange rules
In China, censorship includes democracy, human rights, sex, George Orwell’s 1984, and Winnie-the-Pooh (because the stuffed literary bear has been compared by some Chinese bloggers to their President). Such censorship, say many, minimizes the value of the internet. Read More ›
Orange robots carrying pallets with goods in modern warehouse. Modern delivery center concept. 3D rendering image.
Orange robots carrying pallets with goods in modern warehouse. Modern delivery center concept. 3D rendering image.

They Say the New Delivery Service Is a Robot…

But of course there is a human (many, possibly) in the loop

Why do some PR agencies think it is so important that we forget the fellow human beings who help us, using robotic devices?

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The car made of grass.

Can We “Evolve” Self-Driving Cars?

The new method may be an advance but thinking of it as "evolution" at work risks misconceptions

In evolution, “performance” just means the continued survival of a lineage. Thus it can include hybrids between what you might want for your purposes and what you don’t want.

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