Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive July 2020

digital-illustration-painting-design-style-a-dragon-slayer-fighting-with-boss-of-dragon-in-video-game-against-ruins-city-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Digital illustration painting design style a dragon slayer fighting with boss of dragon in video game, against ruins city.

AI-written Scenario for Dungeons & Dragons Is Actually Quite Good

It is a computer revolution, not in type, but in scale

I still remember walking past the tabletop game store in the mall when I was a kid. I used to think, “that looks really interesting, but everyone would think I’m a nerd if I started playing it.” Admittedly, I am most definitely a nerd, and proud of it. But only recently have I begun diving into the world of tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons (otherwise known as D&D). The poster (left), from one of the many Dungeons & Dragons-themed films of recent decades, gives some sense of the genre. My first experience pillaging through a cave as I smashed anything and everything with my mighty hammer was way more enjoyable than I imagined. The experience was most definitely helped…

abstract round light background.jpg
3D rendering abstract round light background

Oxford Mathematician: Atheism Detracts from Science

The problem, as John Lennox sees it, is that atheism does not provide grounds for believing in rationality

Today, Evolution News and Science Today published an excerpt from Oxford mathematician John Lennox’s 2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity (Zondervan 2020): in which Lennox discusses some of the ways in which atheism detracts from science: Science proceeds on the basis of the assumption that the universe is, at least to a certain extent, accessible to the human mind. No science can be done without the scientist believing this, so it is important to ask for grounds for this belief. Atheism gives us none, since it posits a mindless, unguided origin of the universe’s life and consciousness. John Lennox, “Why Science and Atheism Don’t Mix” at Evolution News and Science Today: He offers physicist John Polkinghorne’s explanation of…

woman-passenger-sitting-in-the-backseat-and-selects-a-route-when-her-self-driving-car-rides-on-the-highway-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Woman passenger sitting in the backseat and  selects a route when her self-driving car rides on the highway.

If Self-Driving Cars Become the Norm, What Will It Feel Like?

Already, Millennials are more likely than their parents to see transportation as simply a means to an end

Recently, Jay Richards interviewed Bryan Mistele, founder and CEO of INRIX, on the non-fiction future of the self-driving car. INRIX provides data systems for analyzing traffic issues relevant to self-driving (autonomous) vehicles. He sees a bright future, amid many misconceptions: From the interview: Jay Richards: What do you think is the key misconception that people have about this technology? Bryan Mistele: I think the biggest misconception is that it’s just about autonomous vehicles. That you’ll go to a dealer, you’ll buy an autonomous vehicle. That’s not really the vision of what people in the industry are pursuing. It’s about what we call the ACES, Autonomous Connected, Electric, and Shared, all working together to deliver, basically, mobility as a service. Certainly…

paradigm-of-quantum-wave-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Paradigm of Quantum Wave

At Nautilus: Electrons DO have a “rudimentary mind”

Panpsychists in science believe that nature is all there is but, they say, it includes consciousness as a fundamental fact of nature

A leading theory of consciousness, Integrated Information Theory (IIT) proposed by University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Giulio Tononi and championed by by another leading neuroscientist, Christof Koch, has clear panpsychist affiliations. It is favored by proponents of the idea that electrons are conscious. Whoa!, you say. How can electrons be conscious? Wouldn’t they at least need a brain to be conscious? Let’s hear an explanation from proponent Tam Hunt (right) at Nautilus: You might see the rise of panpsychism as part of a Copernican trend—the idea that we’re not special. The Earth is not the center of the universe. Humans are not a treasured creation, or even the pinnacle of evolution. So why should we think that creatures with brains, like…

Check mark on shield.jpg
Check mark on shield, Security, safe, privacy or other Security concept background, Data Protection Concept, Technology Background

Hackers Seize Popular Twitter Accounts for Giant Bitcoin Scam

Scammers have gained access to a number of high-profile Twitter accounts, including those of Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Kanye West, and Elon Musk

Today, hackers gained control of a number of Twitter accounts, and used them to scam people out of their Bitcoin money. As we have reported before, the security within Bitcoin actually seems to facilitate scams. In the current ripoff, scammers have gained access to a number of high-profile Twitter accounts, including those of Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Kanye West, and Elon Musk. Their usual line is that they are seeking matching donations to a good cause. So if the user sends Bitcoin to a certain wallet address, the high-profile Twitter account will send a matching donation. However, the wallet address (and the promised match) are both frauds, and the money goes straight into the scammers’ pockets. It is unclear how…

man-in-a-tesla-car-behind-the-wheel-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Man In A Tesla Car. Behind The Wheel Concept.

German Court Rules: Tesla Autopilot Is False Advertising

In America, for reasons many people can’t quite comprehend, the regulatory agencies haven’t said much about the inflated claims

Here at Mind Matters News, we have long been critics of Elon Musk’s claims about his “self-driving” Teslas. Autopilot is a cool feature but marketing it as “full self-driving” is simply a lie, and a dangerous one at that. Musk (right) has been making false claims about Autopilot for almost half a decade now. He claimed in 2016 that all Teslas that left the factory were equipped with the hardware for Level 5 full self-driving. If you’re not aware of the levels of self-driving defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), Level 5 means that the car will take you wherever you want to go and you can sleep in the back. Level 4 means that, in some situations…

Shaved male nape.jpg
Shaved male nape and a lot of usb cables connected to it. Concept of dependence in thinking and information

AI Expert: Artificial Intelligences Are NOT Electronic People

AI makes mistakes no human makes, so some experts are trying to adapt human cognitive psychology to machines

David Watson of the Oxford Internet Institute and the Alan Turing Institute has published an interesting and quite readable paper in Minds and Machines on the way in which artificial intelligence experts often endow their creations — mistakenly — with human characteristics. In his open access paper, “The Rhetoric and Reality of Anthropomorphism in Artificial Intelligence,” he fills us in on some of the limitations of AI and proposes fixes based on human thinking. First, thinking that AI is like a human or about to become like a human is not new: The biomimetic approach to AI has always inspired the popular imagination. Writing about Rosenblatt’s perceptron, the New York Times declared in 1958 that “The Navy has revealed the…

computer-error-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Computer error.

AI Will Fail, Like Everything Else, Eventually

The more powerful the AI, the more serious the consequences of failure

A day does not go by without a news article reporting some amazing breakthrough in artificial intelligence. In fact, progress in AI has been so steady that some futurists, such as Ray Kurzweil, project current trends into the future and anticipate the headlines of tomorrow. Consider some developments from the world of technology: 2004 DARPA sponsors a driverless car grand challenge. Technology developed by the participants eventually allows Google to develop a driverless automobile and modify existing transportation laws. 2005 Honda’s ASIMO humanoid robot is able to walk as fast as a human, delivering trays to customers in a restaurant setting. The same technology is now used in military robots. 2007 Computers learned to play a perfect game of checkers,…

man-riding-on-self-balancing-board-graffiti-stockpack-unsplash.jpg
man riding on self balancing board graffiti

Election Models: Predicting the Past is Easy — and Useless

You can seldom see where you are going by looking in a rear-view mirror
I told my students that I had a model that predicted the popular vote for the the last ten presidential elections (1980–2016) perfectly. Read More ›
groupe-de-bonobos-autour-dun-hotel-a-insectes-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Groupe de Bonobos autour d'un hôtel à insectes

Can Animal Minds Rival Humans Under the Right Circumstances?

Are we just not being fair to animals, as some researchers think?

In 2007, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, a psychologist and primatologist , published a paper in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science with a remarkable citation: Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, Kanzi Wamba, Panbanisha Wamba, and Nyota Wamba, “Welfare of Apes in Captive Environments: Comments on, and by, a Specific Group of Apes,” Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 10:1 (2007): 7–19. What is remarkable about the paper is not the text but the authorship statement. Kanzi, Panbanisha, and Nyota Wamba are not co-author colleagues—they’re apes, bonobos to be specific. Dr. Savage-Rumbaugh (right) is a controversial scientist who believes that animals have intellectual powers that can, under the right circumstances, rival the human intellect. She included her ape subjects as co-authors on the paper because…

stumble warning.jpg
Warning Sign about Stumbling

In Dan Brown’s AI Hype Novel, the Hero Stumbles Onto God

Not clear that was supposed to happen but stories do get away on their authors at times…

In a recent podcast, “John Lennox: False Assumptions in the hype over AI,” Oxford mathematician John Lennox, author of 2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity (2020) discussed common mistaken assumptions with Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks. One of them seems to be that AI might prove there is no God, replace God, or become God. Things get interesting when these science fictions meet the world of fact. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-090-John-Lennox.mp3 From the transcript: Robert J. Marks: In your book, you discussed Dan Brown’s novel entitled Origin. Now Dan Brown is famous for writing many, I don’t know, kind of strange books. One was the Da Vinci Code, but his recent one deals with artificial intelligence and you discuss…

brain anatomy mri.jpg
Doctor demonstrating human brain anatomy and MRI brain on background

Can We Develop Tests of the Brain for Consciousness?

The paper proposing the tests reads like an ambitious but hopeless project that offers some genuinely interesting moments.

In a recent, well-organized paper, neuroscientist Christopher Tyler of the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco offers not only ten features that comprise consciousness but also empirical tests for such features. He hopes to finally crack the Hard Problem of Consciousness by dividing consciousness up into component parts and studying associated brain functions. He calls his approach Emergent Aspect Dualism. He hopes to reconcile monism (physical nature is all there is) with dualism (consciousness is not physical). With that in mind, he hopes to identify the physical machinery that rolls out consciousness, the “neural substrate for conscious processing (NSCP).” But he also hopes to borrow as much from dualism as he can, perhaps in part in order to avoid…

the-runway-of-a-rural-small-airfield-against-a-blue-sky-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
The runway of a rural small airfield against a blue sky

Third Kind Is a Unique Kind of Sci-Fi Film

Director Yorgos Zois helps us to interpret others’ real-life experiences through the sci-fi genre

This week I’ve got another Sci-Fi Saturday short for you. Although not much is currently going on in the big world of sci-fi (though there is always something going on), there never seems to be a dull drum when it comes to short films. Although not a brand new release, Third Kind (2018, 32 min) by Yorgos Zois is interesting, unique, and thought-provoking in several ways. First, let’s talk about interesting. While I would gladly say that most short films I watch are interesting, the slow burn of Third Kind makes it more interesting than most. As three archeologists visit a long since abandoned earth (we’re not really told what time the archeologists are from), they search for a mysterious…

concept-of-future-technology-5g-network-wireless-systems-and-internet-of-things-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
concept of future technology 5G network wireless systems and internet of things

Valley Insider Peter Thiel’s Comments Last Year Proved Prophetic

China’s recent takeover of Hong Kong and the campus Cancel Culture spotlight his warnings for our culture’s future in the age of 5G

Peter Thiel, who spoke by interactive video to the COSM conference last October, is probably the most remarkable of the Silicon Valley insiders. A fuller version of his discussions with tech philosopher George Gilder has just been released. What makes Thiel (think PayPal, Facebook, Palantir, Airbnb, Lyft, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX) unique is that he so much contradicts the Valley stereotype and is certainly not afraid to tell the Valley its faults. In fact, he moved down to Los Angeles in 2018, fed up with the Valley as a one-party state. He suggested in 2019 that Google be investigated for treason for refusing to work with the Pentagon but helping the Chinese military. Most of the time, though, Thiel prefers…

iron-chain-and-castle-on-the-silk-national-flag-of-hong-kong-with-beautiful-folds-the-concept-of-a-ban-on-tourism-political-repression-crime-violation-of-the-rights-and-freedoms-of-citizens-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
iron chain and castle on the silk national flag of Hong Kong with beautiful folds, the concept of a ban on tourism, political repression, crime, violation of the rights and freedoms of citizens

Hong Kong: Tech Companies Face Serious Ethical Decisions

As Hong Kong is transformed into a police state, Western companies, faced with demands for snitching on users, are rethinking cozy relationships with China

The semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong is no longer semi-autonomous, at least in practice. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), circumventing Hong Kong’s parliament and courts, passed the Hong Kong National Security Law on June 30 that effectively abolishes the “one country, two systems” regime outlined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The law was passed one day before the anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China (July 1, 1997), in time to quash any pro-democracy candidates who would likely win in the September elections. Although the CCP justifies its moves from the Hong Kong Basic Law and claims that Hong Kong will maintain autonomy, in practice, it has already arrested dissidents and formed a secretive agency called the Office…

person-sitting-in-front-of-boy-stockpack-unsplash.jpg
person sitting in front of boy

Which Is Smarter? Babies or AI? Not a Trick Question

Not a Trick Question
Humans learn to generalize from the known to the unknown without prior programming and do not get stuck very often in endless feedback loops. Read More ›
brown-monkey-macro-photography-stockpack-unsplash.jpg
brown monkey macro photography

Do Animals Truly Grieve When Other Animals Die?

Yes, but “death” is, in some ways, an abstraction so there are only some things they understand about it

Anthropologist Barbara J. King, author of How Animals Grieve (2014), has written a thought-provoking essay on the difficulties that COVID-19 has created for people coping with the death of a loved one because they are not allowed conventional grieving methods. Although it is titled “Animal Grief Shows We Aren’t Meant to Die Alone,” King’s essay turns out to be appropriately skeptical of ambitious claims about animal grief. She writes, There is a popular perception that some animals, particularly elephants and crows, participate in their own kinds of funerals. But there’s little solid evidence—at least, so far—for this kind of community ritual. Elephants may occasionally cover a dead companion’s body with leaves or branches, but the meaning and intent of this…

businessman-in-ponzi-scheme-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Businessman in ponzi scheme concept

Stocks Are Not a Ponzi Scheme and Here’s Why Not

When you mail a letter to someone in another country, you can enclose an international reply coupon (IRC) that can be exchanged for that country’s postage stamps and used to mail a letter back to you. It is like enclosing a self-addressed stamped envelope except that you do not need to figure out how to buy foreign postage stamps. It is the polite thing to do but also the source of the most famous swindle in history. In 1920, a Massachusetts man named Charles Ponzi (right, in 1920) promised to pay investors 50 percent interest every 45 days. Compounded eight times a year, the effective annual rate of return was 2,463 percent! He said that his profits would come from…

person-holding-baseball-ball-in-black-leather-baseball-mitt-stockpack-unsplash.jpg
person holding baseball ball in black leather baseball mitt

Collectors’ Items Are Now on the Blockchain

When I was growing up, trading cards were all the rage. They mostly centered on baseball but trading cards for every major sport emerged. The Topps Company has long had the lead in baseball cards, with Fleer and Upper Deck trailing far behind. Recently, Topps made a radical move into the digital sector by making some of its trading cards available via the WAX blockchain. WAX stands for Worldwide Asset eXchange. WAX is a blockchain (i.e., cryptocurrency) system that is geared around the buying, selling, and trading of virtual items. Previously, WAX was primarily used to trade goods within gaming platforms. For instance, the massively multiplayer economic strategy game Prospectors utilized WAX to allow users to trade items. However, in…

artificial-intelligence-and-transhumanism-illustration-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Artificial Intelligence and Transhumanism - illustration

John Lennox: Transhumanism Is Not a New Idea

In his just-published book, 2084, Oxford mathematician John Lennox points out that, in the 20th century, both the Communists and the Nazis had attempted transhumanist projects. For example, In the former Soviet Union, attempts were made to use science to create a “New Man.” In 1924, Leon Trotsky wrote: “Man will make it his purpose to master his own feelings, to raise his instincts to the heights of consciousness, to make them transparent, to extend the wires of his will into hidden recesses, and thereby to raise himself to a new plane, to create a higher social biologic type, or, if you please, a superman.” What that program of eugenics involved is explained by historian Andrey Zubov as cited by…