Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Monthly Archive May 2020

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Two Astronauts on the Alien Planet Discover Plant Life. Space Travel, Discovery Of Habitable Worlds and Colonization Concept.

Is Intelligence Common or Rare in the Universe?

A recent analysis says that life is common but intelligence not so much. Let’s explore the reasoning

We really don't know anything about life elsewhere in the universe so even university-trained scientists often try to WISH it into existence.

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Free-range red angus cattle on pasture, Argentina.

No Free Will Means No Justice

Materialist biologist Jerry Coyne doesn’t seem to understand what denying free will would mean for the criminal justice system

Without free will, no one is innocent. Who asks cattle on the way to the abattoir if they are guilty or innocent?

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abstract circle fractal background

Hulu’s Devs Series: Where They Get Determinism Wrong

Devs disposes of a key limitation of computers that can supposedly predict the future with psychobabble

Call me a nitpicker: As a computer engineer, I must say, computers cannot predict the future.

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ufo flying over the desert

Close Encounters, Fifth Kind, Just Missed Contact

Worth a watch but Stephen Greer and I part company when he makes clear that he believes everything is conscious

In his documentary on UFOs, Stephen Greer certainly gets one thing right: Consciousness doesn’t fit into conventional science inquiry.

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Bright light at the end of the dark spooky coridor. Concept of near death experience

Neuroscience Can’t Dismiss Near Death Experiences

It’s sobering to note that neuroscience has utterly failed to explain how the brain and mind relate

Despite claims, NDEs are radically different from any mental experience caused by brain impairment.

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couple of two seniors or mature people walking in the airport going to their gate and take their flight wearing medical mask to prevent virus like coronavirus or covid-19 - carrying luggage or trolley

Ten Ways COVID-19 Will Change Your Next Air Trip

You’ll still get there but it definitely won’t be half the fun

On board, the plane will be cleaner but also leaner. Expect to wear a mask and snack before you go.

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Initial public offering icon on dark background. IPO share investment concept. 3d rendering

Where Have All the Profitable Startups Gone?

We must distinguish between COVID-19's devastating impact and pre-existing problems that it is making worse

The most successful startups of today aren’t as profitable as those founded 20 to 50 years ago. Something is terribly wrong with the current startup system.

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medical statistics and graphic charts with stethoscope

Making Sense of the Numbers Behind COVID-19

Media and politicians put statistics before us to sway our opinions. But what do they really mean?

Numbers can frighten or enlighten. The secret is making them explain themselves. Here’s a quick primer.

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Software engineers working on project and programming in company

Automated Code Generation Tools Can Solve Problems

We may be seeing the rebirth of an old approach to productivity that finds a middle ground between too constrained and too risky

A programming language creates a middle space between the way humans think and the way computers think. What's the best compromise point?

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media reporter with microphone making journalist interview for news

Advice to Physicists: “Shut Up and Do Physics”

Well-known public intellectuals sometimes stray outside their silos of expertise, showing questionable judgment about, for example, AI

Stephen Hawking was a genius in theoretical physics but he did not know much about computers and his fears of an AI takeover were unfounded.

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man jumping on rock formation

Is Materialism Falsifiable? Yes, Easily.

Neurologist Steven Novella is sure that materialism is not falsifiable by science

Contrary to Steven Novella's claims, cosmological singularities refute materialism. Kurt Gödel can explain

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Father And Young Son Reading Book Together At Home

Fatherhood Is Not “Subpersonal”

Human fathers care (but gorillas don’t) because fatherhood depends on explicitly human ideas

Why do men see themselves as “fathers” but male gorillas don’t? Proposed answers from evolutionary psychology are hopelessly inadequate.

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Circuit board with CPU.  Motherboard system chip with glowing processor. Computer´s technology and internet concept.

Devs Both Grips and Challenges Hulu Viewers

I had fully expected Devs to be yet another series about sentient AI but it is something fresher

Alex Garland departs from conventional sci-fi themes to create a thought-provoking film, packed with action and based on a challenging underlying philosophy.

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Archaeological excavation with skull still half buried in the ground

Philosopher Flattens Evolutionary Psychology

There is no such thing as a fossil mind

Rejecting evolutionary psychology means realizing that we cannot both claim to represent “Science!” and refuse to be bound by its standards.

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robots call center

Why Richard Dawkins Thinks AI May Replace Us

He likes the idea because it is consistent with his naturalist philosophy

Dawkins thinks we didn’t evolve so as to understand consciousness. But that our odd situation points nowhere. Isn’t all this past its sell-by date?

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cybercrime, hacking and technology concept - male hacker with headphones and coding on laptop computer screen wiretapping or using computer virus program for cyber attack in dark room

The New Cyber Cold War with China

Cybersecurity strategist Peter Singer told Wired that there has never been a better time than the COVID-19 pandemic to be a government hacker

The United States has formally accused China of both funding and operating cells of hackers who infiltrate research labs working on responses to COVID-19.

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economist table with report

What, Exactly, Do Economists Do?

Economist make the world a better place

Thanks to economists, during the economic crisis that began in 2007, the President, Congress, and Federal Reserve did not repeat the errors of the 1930s.

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Close-up view of the Difference Engine

Lovelace: The Programmer Who Spooked Alan Turing

Ada Lovelace understood her mentor Charles Babbage’s plans for his new Analytical Engine and was better than he at explaining what it could do

Turing thought that computers could be got to think. Thus he had to address Lovelace’s objection from a century earlier, that they could not be creative.

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Close-up view of 'one way' road sign with blurred building in the background. Manhattan, New York City, United States of America.

Flubbed Headlines: New Challenge For AI Common Sense

I propose a new challenge: Teach computers to correctly understand the headline “Students Cook and Serve Grandparents”

Many high tech companies, including Microsoft, are headquartered near the coast in the state of Washington. The executives must have been terrified when they read the headline: “Tuna Biting Off Washington Coast” But wait. Tuna are not chomping on Seattle beaches. The headline, meant to convey good news for fishermen, can be read that way of course. We use common sense to identify the intended meaning and the incorrect interpretation makes us smile. But AI has trouble doing this because it lacks common sense. To solve the problem of AI’s lack of common sense, Microsoft’s co-founder Paul Allen (1953–2018) poured big bucks into Seattle’s Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. “To make real progress in A.I., we have to overcome the…

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Woman and man in social distancing sitting on bench

Five Surprising Changes To Watch for from COVID-19

Expect to hear much more about robots that can stand in for humans, as a way of enabling social distance

There are the Spanish police drones flying around, enforcing lockdown orders. And Singapore’s robotic police dogs, enforcing social distance. Will they go away?

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