Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive July 2020

Breaking Through Concept

Michael Egnor: Denying Free Will Is Totalitarian

Specifically, “The denial of free will is the cornerstone of totalitarian systems.” That’s what he told podcaster Lucas Skrobot in the second of two podcast discussions: Dr. Michael Egnor | Free Will and Totalitarian Ideologies (Part 2 of 2) [E152] Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor has written a fair bit on free will for Mind Matters News. Here are some selections to consider: No free will means no justice: “Free will is the cornerstone of all human rights and the cornerstone of our Constitutional rights. The denial of free will is, literally, the denial of human freedom. Without free will, we are livestock, without the presumption of innocence, without actual innocence, and without rights. A justice system that has no respect for…

Psychology concept. Sunrise and woman silhouette.

Neurosurgeon Explains Why You Are Not a Zombie

Podcaster Lucas Skrobot recently interviewed neurosurgeon Michael Egnor on the difference between the mind and the brain. Egnor told him, “My wife jokes with me that meeting me is always the worst part of a person’s life.” At 22:08, Dr. Egnor provides a thought experiment to explain that minds must transcend materials—the zombie problem. The zombie problem? Ah yes, the philosophers’ zombie: For that, you might also see one of Egnor’s articles: “Neuroscientist Michael Graziano should meet the p-zombie.” To understand consciousness, we need to establish what it is not before we create any more new theories: A p-zombie (a philosophical zombie, as distinguished from the kind that sells movies) is identical to a human being but has no first-person…

man inside man

The Grammar of Consciousness: I vs. Me

Long ago, in elementary school English grammar, many of us learned about the first person singular: I, me, my, mine. (And then went on to all the others… ) In a long and interesting (paywalled) article about theories of consciousness, we learn about efforts to distinguish between “I” and “me.” In one experiment, a neuroscientist, Catherine Tallon-Baudry has tried to distinguish: This time, they homed in on the distinction between “I” and “me”. Tallon-Baudry says “I” captures the most basic aspect of self – the aspect that comes before thought, the unified entity that does the thinking. It is fundamentally different from the kind of reflection about “me” that implies monitoring different bodily functions without that sense of unity. To…

big brother watching you

2084 vs 1984: The Difference AI Could Make to Big Brother

In a recent podcast, Oxford mathematician John Lennox answered some questions raised about his new book, 2084 by Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks, including questions as to how the loss of privacy could wind up really harming us: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-089-John-Lennox.mp3 From the transcript: Robert J. Marks: It’s been said that AI is the new electricity. It’s neither good nor bad. You have addressed some of the potential negative uses of artificial intelligence or the negative impacts of artificial intelligence, but expanding on that, what are some of the big threats that you see in the use of AI technology in the near future? John Lennox: Well, the threats are best explained by comparing them with the advantages. Let’s take…


AT&T CTO Says, Yes, You Can Live Without Your Smart Phone

At COSM 2019, Jay Richards interviewed AT&T CTO Andre Fuetsch (the guy who says your smart phone will disappear). Is that true? And how will we live? From the interview: Andre Fuetsch: We are now on the brink of being able to connect many, many more things than we’ve ever seen before. And just by the fact of being able to connect more things … look at the more traditional wireless networks that we’ve had in the preceding generations. It frankly was just about connecting phones, right? “Some were sort of dumb phones, some were more feature phones. Some are now obviously more smartphones. And these were really more of kind of a one to one relationship with people. 5G,…

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John Lennox: How AI Raises the Stakes for All of Us

This is an excerpt from John Lennox‘s 2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity (Zondervan 2020) published with permission: In April 2018 at the TED talks in Vancouver physicist and cosmologist MaxTegmark, president of the Future of Life Institute at MIT, made this rather grandiose statement: “In creating AI [artificial intelligence], we’re birthing a new form of life with unlimited potential for good or ill.” A study by Sir Nigel Shadbolt and Roger Hampson entitled The Digital Ape carries the subtitle How to Live (in Peace) with Smart Machines. They are optimistic that humans will still be in charge, provided we approach the process sensibly. But is this optimism justified? The director of Cambridge University’s Centre for the Study…


China’s Health Code App: One More Way to Track Citizens

For the Chinese Communist Party, SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus) has provided an opportunity to expand its massive surveillance system. The current extensive network of facial recognition cameras has left some gaps. People could avoid recognition, for example, by wearing a face covering to curb the spread of a respiratory illness. Now, China is looking to fill those gaps by keeping the Alipay Health Code app, launched at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a mainstay for its citizens: Compared to omnipresent facial recognition software and other surveillance systems in China, the health code mechanism covers more people and collects a broader range of personal information. The state can also impose stricter control as people now have to use health codes…