Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive December 2020

Guérilla urbaine

Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems: The Cause—and Cure—of Wokeness?

Why do so many people today think there are only arguments, not facts?

In modern “woke” ideology, there are no facts, only arguments which express cultural power— based on the acceptance of those arguments by current society. In such ideologies, it is not important whether or not the arguments are logically consistent or if they are true in any real sense. What is important is whether or not they achieve the desired results in politics and society. This is not a criticism. It is a description of their methodology (for a review of the academic literature on the subject, see the book Cynical Theories by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay. Many people wonder how we got here. Why do so many scholars actively reject logic as a method of finding the truth, and…

backside graduation hats during commencement success graduates of the university, Concept education congratulation. Graduation Ceremony ,Congratulated the graduates in University during commencement.

Will Machine Learning Disrupt Academic Rankings?

A case study in the best computer science and artificial intelligence programs

Note: Our author, Ross Gulik, an educational consultant who closely follows the academic ranking industry, offers us a look at how such rankings are created and how they might be improved. 1 Introduction to AcademicInfluence.com AcademicInfluence.com is a new website that claims to do academic rankings right. Getting academic rankings right has become a pressing concern for higher education. As AcademicInfluence.com correctly observes on its methodology page, schools face enormous pressure to perform well in the big annual rankings. The big academic ranking organizations (such as US News and Times Higher Education) carry enormous weight. If a school slips in these annual rankings, it can affect student enrolments, the bottom line, and the prestige of the institution. This pressure leads…

Top view of attractive young woman sleeping well in bed hugging soft white pillow. Teenage girl resting, good night sleep concept. Lady enjoys fresh soft bedding linen and mattress in bedroom

#5 AI hype: AI Could Go Psychotic Due To Lack of Sleep!

Well, that’s what we can hear from Scientific American, if we believe all we read

Our nerds here at the Walter Bradley Center have been discussing the AI hypes of the year. Our director Robert J. Marks, Eric Holloway and Jonathan Bartlett have been talking about 12 overyhyped AI ideas. From AI Dirty Dozen 2020 Part II, here’s #5 AI: can go psychotic due to lack of sleep! https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-114-Jonathan-Bartlett-Eric-Holloway.mp3 Our story begins at 16:03. Here’s a partial transcript. Show Notes and Additional Resources follow, along with a link to the complete transcript. The story started at Scientific American Some types of artificial intelligence could start to hallucinate if they don’t get enough rest, just as humans do… The change will come when (and if) AI systems that mimic living brains are incorporated into the wide…

The concept of biased views judged by appearances. Various miniature people standing behind the glasses.

How Bias Can Be Coded Into Unthinking Programs

MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini started the project as a trivial “bathroom mirror” message

Coded Bias, a new documentary by 7th Empire Media that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020, looks at the ways algorithms and machine learning can perpetuate racism, sexism, and infringements on civil liberties. The film calls for accountability and transparency in artificial intelligence systems, which are algorithms that sift large amounts of data to make predictions, as well as regulations on how these systems can be used and who has access to the data. The documentary follows the path of MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini. Buolamwini took a class on science fiction and technology in which one of her assignments was to create a piece of technology that isn’t necessarily useful but is inspired by science fiction. Buolamwini…

More candles, more light in the dark night.

Is Technology Always Progress? Let’s Talk About That

Tradition itself is a type of technology

We often make a sharp distinction between “traditional” and “modern.” We view tradition with distrust, assuming that we are simply latching ourselves onto arbitrary decisions from yesteryear. Technology, on the other hand, is viewed as progressive. Rather than entrenching us in the past, technology is supposed to propel us into the future. Technology is the way that we structure our environment in order to maximize our productivity and happiness. We use technology to automate away the bad and boring parts of work, and emphasize the fun parts more predominate. We use technology to boost our productivity to make sure that everyone has everything that they need. What most people miss is that tradition itself is a type of technology. Tradition…

Chat bot concept

#6 A Conversation Bot Is Cool —If You Really Lower Your Standards

A system that supposedly generates conversation—but have you noticed what is says?

Our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been interviewing fellow computer nerds (our Brain Trust) Jonathan Bartlett and Eric Holloway about 12 overhyped AI concepts of the year. From AI Dirty Dozen 2020 Part II. Now here’s #6. A means of generating copy from AI: “GPT-3 Is “Mindblowing” If You Don’t Question It Too Closely So what about the bot that replaces conversation? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-114-Jonathan-Bartlett-Eric-Holloway.mp3 Our story begins at “09:03. Here’s a partial transcript. Show Notes and Additional Resources follow, along with a link to the complete transcript. Robert J. Marks: GPT-3. Those are four alphanumeric letters that rhyme. GPT-3. And, there was a headline that says there’s a subreddit populated entirely by AI personifications of other subreddits. First…

Close Up Of Granddaughter Hugging Grandmother In Park

Some Scientists Struggle With Why There Are Grandmothers

Why do humans live to be old when most animals don’t? Pop psychology weighs in

Pop science specialist Alison Gopnik, author of several books, including The Philosophical Baby (2010) and Scientist in the Crib (1999) explains grandmothers: On an evolutionary timescale, Homo sapiens emerged only quite recently. Yet in that short time, we have evolved a particularly weird life history, with a much longer childhood and old age than other animals. In particular, we’re very different from our closest primate relatives. By at least age seven, chimpanzees provide as much food as they consume, and they rarely live past 50 – there’s no chimp equivalent of human menopause. Even in forager cultures, where growing up is accelerated, children aren’t self-sufficient until they’re at least 15. What’s more, even in communities without access to modern medicine,…

robot working with digital display

Can Robots Be Less Biased Than Their Creators?

We often think of robots as mindless but the minds of their creators are behind them

In some ways, it’s an odd question. Many of us would think of a robot as the opposite of bias. But the reality is that, because everything the robot is and does is a consequence of human actions, a robot could in fact be very biased. How will we know? Some AI developers are attempting to deal with this question: Last summer, hundreds of A.I. and robotics researchers signed statements committing themselves to changing the way their fields work. One statement, from the organization Black in Computing, sounded an alarm that “the technologies we help create to benefit society are also disrupting Black communities through the proliferation of racial profiling.” Another manifesto, “No Justice, No Robots,” commits its signers to…

Watermelon Pacman eating small red round pieces

#7 AI Can Create Great New Video Games All by Itself!

In our 2020 "Dirty Dozen" AI myths: It’s actually just remixing previous games

Our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been interviewing fellow computer nerds (our Brain Trust) Jonathan Bartlett and Eric Holloway about 12 overhyped AI concepts of the year. From AI Dirty Dozen 2020 Part II. Now here’s #7. Computers can create their own video games, no imagination involved! Or maybe… wait … don’t invest just yet … https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-114-Jonathan-Bartlett-Eric-Holloway.mp3 “Computers can create their own video games” starts at 05:07. Here’s a partial transcript. (Show Notes and Additional Resources follow, along with a link to the complete transcript.) Robert J. Marks: Okay. Number seven. AI can implement video games just by watching. This was from an article called “Learning to simulate dynamic environments with gameGAN.” Eric Holloway (pictured): Yeah but…


Deepfake of Queen’s Christmas Message Highlights Era of Fake News

The concept is actually an old one and we are not helpless against such deceptions

Elizabeth II is among the longest-serving constitutional monarchs in history (1953–). Britain’s edgy Channel 4 tested the waters with a deepfake Christmas address: In Commonwealth countries like Canada, it is a longstanding custom to listen to Elizabeth’s Christmas Address. So how did the fake fare?: If you have bad eyesight and limited hearing, you might, might, be fooled by the fake Queen on a busy Christmas day. But by the time she starts talking about Netflix and launches into a dance routine, you’d surely know something’s up. Channel 4 makes little effort to hide its deception, but that hasn’t stopped some critics from expressing discomfort with the stunt. Rhett Jones, “First Deepfake Address from the Queen of England Makes Its…

baby chimpanzee ape at the zoo.

If DNA Doesn’t Make Humans Different From Chimps, What Does?

How do we get to Beethoven’s Fifth and quantum theory?

Some neuroscientists think they have an idea worth pursuing: With only 1% difference, the human and chimpanzee protein-coding genomes are remarkably similar. Understanding the biological features that make us human is part of a fascinating and intensely debated line of research. Researchers at the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and the University of Lausanne have developed a new approach to pinpoint, for the first time, adaptive human-specific changes in the way genes are regulated in the brain… To explain what sets human apart from their ape relatives, researchers have long hypothesized that it is not so much the DNA sequence, but rather the regulation of the genes (i.e. when, where and how strongly the gene is expressed), that plays the…

Giving a helping hand.

And Walter Bradley Reached Out His Hand …

J. P. Moreland recalls Walter Bradley, who was there when it really mattered

In the Foreword to For a Greater Purpose, philosopher J. P. Moreland recalls an incident when both he and Walter Bradley were young football players: I had never suffered a concussion in my life, but there I was, laying on my back in the middle of a field, with a twilight wooziness that made me want to faint. Suddenly, I noticed a hand enter my cloudy visual field and a voice asked me how many fingers he was holding up. Three, I said, and as I did, I began to come out of it. I was able to see to whom the hand belonged: Butch (we used to call him that) Bradley! … Walter Bradley reached out his hand to…

sri lanka elephant

Sci-fi Saturday: What If Next-Stage Evolution Children Appear?

A sci-fi short from Sri Lanka looks at the possibilities

Here’s the last item in our Saturday reviews of free, relevant sci-fi fun from DUST, the sci-fi channel at YouTube. This one is “Vikaari”from Synhedrion Studios (Sri Lanka, 13:54): Due to some possible “evolutionary transformation,” children in Sri Lanka are born with no emotional reaction to anything but with the ability for telekinesis and a hive mind. It’s suggested that that is an adaptive response to continuous warfare. Many want to kill them, saying “They look like kids, but they’re not.” Eerily reminiscent of the persecution of people with Down Syndrome. Evolution theories are evoked in glowing color to explain the situation though many such theories are contested today. The story is very well done as a parable of the…

alien planet landscape, beautiful forest the surface of an exoplanet

The Search for Extraterrestrial Life Gets an Update

The universe appears fine-tuned for life to a dramatic degree; it’s at least reasonable to think it’s out there

California Institute of Technology, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Santiago High School are updating the famous Drake Equation (1961): Over the span of human history, many have wondered if life exists on other planets—intelligent or otherwise. As new tools have been applied to the question, many space scientists have become convinced that the likelihood of extraterrestrial civilizations developing seems more probable than not given all that has been learned. As other exoplanet systems have been found, many circling stars very similar to our sun, it has become difficult to find anything unique about our own planet to justify a belief that Earth alone ever produced life. In this new effort, the researchers have expanded on research done by Frank Drake…

The face of a child robot.

Sci-Fi Saturday: Can Parents Get Back a Dead Child as an Android?

They aren’t even united in their grief; they just think they must “do something” to get back a facsimile of what they remember.

Are you in lockdown at home? Hey, here’s another one we found, in our weekly foray into free short sci-fi. This is from SkillLab Creative Studio: “Article 19-42” (14:29 min) A French couple (subtitles in English) drive to an old barn in northern woods, on a seemingly curious mission—to resurrect a dead child as an android: One wouldn’t offer a spoiler, such as above, except that the film goes on way too long without making that part clear. The ambience—one suspects that the lab is illegal—is wonderful. The central characters are pitch perfect: parents of an only child, united by and obsessed with her death. They aren’t even entirely united in their grief; they both want to get back at…

Spaceship in space above the planets in distant solar system. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

Astrobiologist: Change How We Search For ET!

There’s a longstanding controversy in the pursuit of extraterrestrial life as to whether life forms must be carbon-based

Sara Imari Walker, of Arizona State University, puts her finger on a key issue: The discovery of life on another planet should be a momentous event for humanity, but any announcement of a biosignature detection made right now will not be a milestone but a mess, because scientists will have no consensus that we’ve even made a discovery. Here on Earth, we don’t recognize life by its atmospheric byproducts. In fact, none of our current biosignatures address the central question: What about us makes us alive? Our biosignatures are not definitive signs of life because we don’t have a coherent theory of what life is… Carl Sagan famously showed that adopting a definition that includes the ability to eat, metabolize,…

smart hotel in hospitality industry 4.0 technology concept, robot butler (robot assistant) use for greet arriving guests, deliver customer, items to rooms, give information, support  variety languages

Sci-Fi Saturday Film: The Robot Tries To Learn About Grief

An elderly woman buys a robot to help her when she finds herself all alone, due to tragedy

In our weekly foray into free sci-fi at DUST, we found “Rewind” (13:36 min, set in December 2043) An elderly woman, Sheila, whose daughter has been in a high-conflict zone in a military environment, learns to manage with a robot—ordered apparently off the internet, with a manual—that can learn to do housework and hang Christmas decorations. It’s an agreeable story and good Christmas fare! That said, the robot is obviously a guy in a “robot” suit. He learns to do housework, appreciate snow—and to deal with tragedy a robot could never really understand. A robot can’t deal with things that are non-computable because non-computables cannot be programmed. This is a fact often overlooked by heady futurists. But don’t let that…

Close up portrait of a common raven (corvus corax)

At Scientific American: Ravens Are As Smart As Chimpanzees

Birds have a different brain structure from mammals but that doesn’t appear to limit natural intelligence

We wrote about this earlier but now Scientific American has weighed in. Researchers were trying to address the deficiency in studies of raven intelligence that focused only on whether the bird knew that the researcher was hiding something: A new study that that tries to address that deficit provides some of the best proof yet that ravens, including young birds of just four months of age, have certain types of smarts that are on par with those of adult great apes. The brainy birds performed just as well as chimpanzees and orangutans across a broad array of tasks designed to measure intelligence. “We now have very strong evidence to say that, at least in the tasks we used, ravens are…

Female doctor consoling senior woman wearing face mask during home visit

#8 in our AI Hype Countdown: AI Is Better Than Doctors!

Sick of paying for health care insurance? Guess what? AI is better ! Or maybe, wait…

Merry Christmas! Our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been interviewing fellow computer nerds (our Brain Trust) Jonathan Bartlett and Eric Holloway about 12 overhyped AI concepts of the year. From AI Dirty Dozen 2020 Part II. Now here’s #8. Sick of paying for health care insurance? Guess what? AI is better! Or maybe, wait… https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-114-Jonathan-Bartlett-Eric-Holloway.mp3 “Is AI really better than physicians at diagnosis?” starts at 01:25 Here’s a partial transcript. Show Notes and Additional Resources follow, along with a link to the complete transcript. Robert J. Marks: We’re told AI is going to replace lawyers and doctors and accountants and all sorts of people. So, let’s look at a case of the physicians. This was a piece…

Team of  programmers working on new project.They working late at night at the office.

Does Programming Depend More on Math or Language Skills?

Neither, actually, say researchers. It’s a more global network

Researchers have discovered that learning to code software uses not just math or language skills but rather a broader region of the brain called the “multiple demand network,” which is active when we are solving complex problems: “Understanding computer code seems to be its own thing. It’s not the same as language, and it’s not the same as math and logic,” says Anna Ivanova, an MIT graduate student and the lead author of the study. Anne Trafton, “To the brain, reading computer code is not the same as reading language” at MIT News Paper. (open access) (December 15, 2020) Neuroscientist Evelina Fedorenko, another of the study’s authors, says that there are two schools of thought regarding programming: One is, you…