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Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Monthly Archive April 2020

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Robot studies a coronavirus with magnifier,nano robot with bacterium,3d render.

Can AI Save Us from COVID-19? An Expert Is Skeptical

To use AI more successfully next time, we need a clear understanding of its limitations as well as its capabilities

Experts list various problems, including the fact that AI is vulnerable to failure due to unforeseen problems, including problems with data (too sparse, too noisy, too many outliers, etc.). It also doesn’t learn as well from experience as humans do.

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Happy man on wheelchair in nature. Exploring forest wilderness on an accessible dirt path.

Through AI, a Paralyzed Man Has Regained the Sense of Touch

In 2016, through advanced technology, he regained the ability to move individual fingers

According to researchers, Ian Burkhart, whose hands and legs were paralyzed in a diving accident in 2010, has regained the sense of touch,, through a brain implant, as opposed to simply the ability to move a hand: The breakthrough came from analysis of years of data collected from NeuroLifeTM program study participant Ian Burkhart, who suffered a spinal cord injury in 2010 when diving into the ocean, and now lives with paralysis in his hands and legs. “When the chip was placed on the surface of Ian’s motor cortex in 2014, it was not known that the signals related to object touch could be observed because of the paralysis,” said lead author and Battelle Principal Research Scientist Patrick Ganzer. “Furthermore, Read More ›

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Flying futuristic central processing unit. electronic circuitry within a computer that carries out the instructions of a computer program performing arithmetic, logic, controlling.

Coronavirus: Is Data Mining Failing Its First Really Big Test?

Computers scanning thousands of paper don’t seem to be providing answers for COVID-19

If Alphabet’s Deep Mind or Microsoft had successfully data mined the 29,000 papers and found useful coronavirus information, that would be pretty impressive. But they appear to be giving others a chance to try instead, raising issues once again about the value of data mining in medicine.

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The Creative Brain

Is There a Creativity Module in the Brain?

Both hemispheres are important for creativity, according to recent research, but the adventure lies beyond

What we are really learning is that minute mapping of the brain is not likely to give us a complete explanation of creativity. Let alone a means of control. Answers, when they appear, lie in the immaterial world of the mind.

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Mother and child doing homeschooling, e-learning at home because of the corona virus pandemic covid-19 quarantine

Five Ways COVID-19 Is Changing Education for Good

Parents, students, and teachers worldwide have been finding ways to use the internet in creative ways they would never have considered before

Recently, a Harvard prof chose to launch an attack on homeschoolers, portraying them as driven by narrow religious concerns. Given how many parents COVID-19 has forced to homeschool, the attack was, at best, poorly timed. But it usefully focused attention on the ways education needs to change in an online world.
 

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person holding gray and brown fish

Jerry Coyne Just Can’t Give Up Denying Free Will

Coyne’s denial of free will, based on determinism, is science denial and junk metaphysics

Some day, I predict, there will be a considerable psychiatric literature on the denial of free will. It’s essentially a delusion dressed up as science. To insist that your neurotransmitters completely control your choices is no different than insisting that your television or your iphone control your thoughts. It’s crazy.

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Photo by Erik Mclean
red and blue hearts illustration

Why Does COVID-19 Target the Northern Hemisphere?

A graph of death rates by latitude is revealing

First of all, COVID-19 clearly does not attack the globe uniformly by latitude. The second standout feature is that it targets the northern hemisphere. How can a disease’s spread be affected by hemisphere, let alone latitude? Let’s look a little deeper for some clues.

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Coronavirus market crash and financial crisis

COVID-19: When 900 Bytes Shut Down the World

A great physicist warned us, information precedes matter and energy: Bit before it

The COVID-19 virus contains about as much information as a sticker in WhatsApp. Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks and Dr. Daniel Andrés Díaz-Pachón  explore a dreadful truth:  “Human biology is so finely tuned that less than a kilobyte of information can stop the world.”

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Post-COVID: Five Ways Your Job Could Change

This is a good time to be a creative thinker and innovator.

Many COVID-driven innovations will likely endure, whether it’s vets doing telehealth, trolls harassing Zoom users, or cybercriminals targeting remote workers, the new opportunities and risks will stay with us.

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Man teleworking from home after coronavirus pandemic

Five Possibly Unexpected Ways the Post-COVID Office Will Change

We’ll all know more about remote working than we ever thought we would

Some managers worry that remote employees will not be productive. They don’t always consider that the remote worker is the person in charge if something affects her work. For example, in an office building, if the water is shut off due to a street repair, a manager would likely co-ordinate. But at home, the worker must decide for herself how best to deal with it, while remaining productive. A level playing field would recognize overall long-term output vs. costs in either case.

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COVID-19 coronavirus in China, renminbi yuan money bill with face mask. COVID global stock market. World economy hit by corona virus outbreak. Financial crisis and coronavirus pandemic concept.

COVID-19: Getting to the Bottom of What Happened in China

China knowingly violated the terms of a World Health Organization (WHO) disclosure agreement

It is widely recognized that medical professionals and journalists in China are being silenced if they publish any information about COVID-19 that contradicts the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s official narrative. But now mainland Chinese scientists must ensure that their research publications also toe the CCP party line. If we sift carefully, however, we can uncover real information.

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Digital mind

Why Our Minds Can’t Really Be Uploaded to Computers

The basic problem is that human minds aren’t “computable.” Peter and Jane are not bits and bytes

The underlying problem with creating immortality by uploading our minds to computers is that people are conscious and even the most sophisticated foreseeable computers are not. And we are not at all sure what consciousness even IS.

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Shirts

Why Your Computer Will Never Talk to You

As a jokester recently demonstrated, even “shirts without stripes” is a fundamental, unsolvable problem for computers

At first, “shirts without stripes” might not seem like much of an issue but it turns out that many important and interesting problems for computers fundamentally reduce to this “halting problem.” And understanding human language is one of these problems.

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Machine learning technology diagram with artificial intelligence (AI),neural network,automation,data mining in VR screen.businessman hand working with modern technology and digital layer effect.

Can Human Minds Be Reduced to Computer Programs?

In Silicon Valley that has long been a serious belief. But are we really anywhere close?

Computer scientist Selmer Bringsjord recalls, “I remember asking James Moor, the Dartmouth professor who’s written quite a bit on AI: “You know. Jim, you really are a true believer in this stuff but can you tell me how much time you’re willing to give these AI people? I mean, if we give them another thousand years, and we still don’t have cognition as I’ve characterized it… Are you going to be skeptical now?” He was, I suppose, as an academic, predictably clever and evasive, but the bottom line is, we don’t have this cognition captured.

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gold-colored Bitcoin coin on ground

And Now… Crypto-COVID!

How the COVID-19 pandemic is creating “social distance” for crypto-currencies

While the equity markets have garnered a lot of attention in the COVID-19 pandemic, cryptocurrencies have been largely ignored by the media. This is partly because interest in cryptocurrency in general has waned over the last two years. But the pandemic has shed some light on their market mechanics.

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Sick girl lying on the hospital bed and her mom kiss to support.

Can People in Comas Have Abstract Thoughts?

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor discusses how we might test for that ability

In the recent podcast, “Michael Egnor on Whether People in Comas Can Think,” Robert J. Marks raised an interesting point with Egnor: Can people in comas think abstractly or do they form thoughts only at a much more basic level, given how physically distressed they are? The answer might surprise you.

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Open and closed.

Is There Really a “Rubber Hand” Illusion?

A venerable claim in psychology, that our minds are easily fooled about our bodies, comes under fire
It sounds as though too many people know too much about what to expect for any raw data about human cognition to be recovered from the Rubber Hand illusion. Read More ›
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Portrait of bored sleepless young man sitting on the couch watching TV at night

Sci-fi Culture: There’s Life Here on Planet Covid!

But you have to look hard. Here’s some help
With major releases postponed, we sci-fi fans tirelessly check our email and bookmarked sci-fi news sites for any good news. If you’re one of those, have no fear! I’ve compiled a short list of what’s been going on in the community over the past few weeks. Expect to see more updates like these as long as needed. Read More ›
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Robot and human cooperating in jigsaw puzzle

Thinking Machines? Has the Lovelace Test Been Passed?

Surprising results do not equate to creativity. Is there such a thing as machine creativity?

The feats of machines like AlphaGo are due to superior computational power, not to creativity at originating new ideas. Computer scientist Selmer Bringsjord sees the ability to write, say, a novel of ideas as a more realistic test of human vs. computer achievement.

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The poetry of Love

Thinking Machines? The Lovelace Test Raises the Stakes

The Turing test has had a free ride in science media for far too long, says an AI expert

In the view of Rensselaer philosopher and computer scientist Selmer Bringsjord, the iconic Turing test for human-like intelligence in computers is inadequate and easily gamed. Merely sounding enough like a human to fool people does not establish human-like intelligence. He proposes the much more challenging Lovelace test, based on an observation from computer pioneer Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) that true creativity is what distinguishes humans from machines.

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