Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive January 2021

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Artificial intelligence and future technologies. Mixed media

Researchers: It Would Be Impossible To Control Super AI

But is superintelligent AI really possible? Some experts are skeptical

From the media release for a recent paper: The idea of artificial intelligence overthrowing humankind has been talked about for many decades, and scientists have just delivered their verdict on whether we’d be able to control a high-level computer super-intelligence. The answer? Almost definitely not. The catch is that controlling a super-intelligence far beyond human comprehension would require a simulation of that super-intelligence which we can analyse. But if we’re unable to comprehend it, it’s impossible to create such a simulation. David Nield, “Calculations Show It’ll Be Impossible to Control a Super-Intelligent AI” at Science Alert The open access research study is here. First, the idea that machines can design smarter machines should be treated with skepticism: maybe we are…

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Lucky Numbers

Sci Fi Saturday: A fight for the winning ticket

In a 2040 superstorm, engulfing the planet, a young woman gets hold of a ticket out

Our next sci fi short is “Here comes Frieda”: (Ripple Effect, 7:34 min) As yet another superstorm bears down on a desperate, weary city in the year 2040, a young woman seeks to redeem her winning sweepstakes ticket for a better life in a low Earth orbit paradise. This film is the ultimate environmental dystopia (no spoilers). It works to the extent that it portrays real characters. The building maintenance man is especially good. Because it is a very short film the filmmakers need not address the question of just why the environment apocalypse is so dire. Nature has a way of rebalancing itself; this has been true since the beginning of life on Earth. The problem with environment damage…

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gray alien. 3d render

At Scientific American: The Aliens Could Be Extremely Boring

Well, we can’t be sure, can we? It’s literally a whole other world

Okay, it’s just a thought. But what if all the interesting stuff is happening in our own imaginations? Caleb Scharf is a University of Columbia astrobiologist and here is his view: There’ll be some initial oddities, some curiosities that aren’t quite the things we planned for. A dull carrier wave signal for instance. Over time more evidence will show up, until eventually it’s clear that there are lots of species out there, puttering around in their own little neighborhoods and doing nothing truly extraordinary, because those possibilities were, in the end, more the product of our lively imaginations than anything that the universe compels life towards. Of course, I’m being a little facetious, the first discovery of life of any…

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Scrap recycling plant, Crane grabber, pile metal to recycle

Sci Fi Saturday: Terrified by a Scrap Monster

Well, if you have never been terrified by a Scrap Monster, you are clearly missing out

Here’s “Pinki” by Spike Hyunsuk Kim (11:08 min) On a back street, a scrap monster makes a sudden lunge at a man. A pink-haired girl helps him, and their future is down to whether he remembers her. No surprise, she is a girl from his high school past. The production values are well done but it’s not clear if this is strictly sci-fi. The scrap monster tormenting the fellow seems right out of folklore rather than sci-fi. That said, it’s fun watching a middle class South Korean business executive try to cope with the Scrap Monster. An agreeable short. Other reviews from the “We are but DUST” files: Sci Fi Saturday: What if there were serious wars over clouds? In…

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Deepfake software

AI 2020 Smash hits #5: Deepfakes—What They Can and Can’t Do

Deepfakes? Our minds often actually fill in a lot of our background for us when we are not even aware of it

Our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks is back with Jonathan Bartlett and Eric Holloway, are back, with the second instalment of 2020 smash hits in AI. Readers may recall that we offered a fun series during the holidays about the oopses and ums and ers in the discipline (typically hyped by uncritical sources). Time to celebrate the real achievements! Well, our nerds think that #5 is believable deep fakes in entertainment, for better or worse https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-117-Eric-Holloway-Jonathan-Bartlett.mp3 Here’s a partial transcript. (Show Notes and Additional Resources follow, along with a link to the complete transcript.) Robert J. Marks: Jon, what are deep fakes and what is Disney doing that’s going to wow us? Jonathan Bartlett: People are worried about…

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Spiral Profile

Toward a Serious Scientific Theory of Consciousness

Quantum physics arises from the fact that when we do not observe a particle, it can be in two different places at once, such that it interacts with itself

Consciousness is the ultimate hard problem of philosophy of science. As of today, there is absolutely no scientific solution to the problem. The nature of consciousness seems ineffable: first person experience appears to be a completely different category of existence than objective externaldescription. This dilemma has led philosophers such as Daniel Dennett to use the ultimate solution: deny the problem exists. Unfortunately, that solution never worked for me at school. The objective reality of bad grades is quite hard to deny. Yet, we need not resort to Daniel Dennett’s ultimate solution. There are concrete things we can say about consciousness if we use the “many worlds” interpretation of quantum physics and the computer science concept of Kolmogorov complexity. Quantum physics…

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Condenser microphone golden in the studio recording creating the sound effect for the content creator

Stakeholders Are Competing for Control of Radio Networks

Future networks will need to need to safeguard the quality of the data

The incorporation of ontologies and semantic reasoning have far reaching implications for wireless communications and spectrum management. Early implementations using adaptive spectrum methods are already being deployed. In the future much deeper uses will be developed. In the context of wireless communications ontology and semantic reasoning have similar roles to their use in the semantic web. The ontology layer defines the participants and variables that impact communication. It also describes the relationships between them. A semantic reasoning engine uses the ontology to analyze the current data and formulate a transmission plan to implement the policies it has been given. Thus, the work being developed for the semantic web is being applied to spectrum management. Physical Layer Stakeholders Early uses of…

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Old city center view in Krakow

Poland Strikes a Blow for Free Speech Against Big Tech

The new law would limit the authority of social media platforms to censor posts or suspend accounts

In December, Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro announced that the nation would pursue legislation to hold social media companies accountable for violating free speech rights. The new law would limit the authority of social media platforms to censor posts or suspend accounts, allowing them to take such measures only when Polish law has been broken. The law would also provide citizens a legal remedy when they feel they have been censored without just cause by appealing to a special court. The announcement was made in response to growing concerns that technological giants like Google, Facebook, and Twitter are squashing free speech rights. Ziobro called the blocking and removal of online content an act of “ideological censorship,” whereby people are silenced…

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Social media concept.

Many are questioning the sudden shutdown of Parler

Opponents see the move as an attempt to enforce a social media monopoly

Recently, an alternative social media platform, roughly equivalent to Twitter, was forced offline after Amazon terminated it services: “Without AWS, Parler is finished as it has no way to get online,” the complaint said. “And a delay of granting this TRO by even one day could also sound Parler’s death knell as President Trump and others move on to other platforms.”Parler’s lawsuit argues that Amazon has unlawfully sought to restrain competition by eliminating a player from the market.It also claims Amazon breached its contract with Parler by not providing Parler 30 days’ notice of termination — and that its actions interfere with Parler’s relationships with current and future users. Brian Fung, “Parler sues Amazon for cutting off its services” at…

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Speed of Painted Dream

A Theoretical Physicist Grapples With the Math of Consciousness

Looking at the various theories, she is not very happy

She’s not very happy with what she sees: The currently most popular mathematical approach to consciousness is integrated information theory, IIT for short. It was put forward by a neurologist, Giulio Tononi, in two thousand and four. In IIT, each system is assigned a number, that’s big Phi, which is the “integrated information” and supposedly a measure of consciousness. The better a system is at distributing information while it’s processing the information, the larger Phi. A system that’s fragmented and has many parts that calculate in isolation may process lots of information, but this information is not “integrated”, so Phi is small. For example, a digital camera has millions of light receptors. It processes large amounts of information. But the…

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military RC military drone flies flies against backdrop of beautiful clouds on blue sky background. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

#6 AI Smash Hit 2020!: AI Defeats Fighter Pilot Hands Down

The future of warfare may involve more machine waste but less human carnage

Our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks is back with Jonathan Bartlett and Eric Holloway, assessing their Top Ten real advances (“Smash Hits”) in AI in 2020. Readers may recall that we offered a fun series during the holidays about the oopses and ums and ers in the discipline (typically hyped by uncritical sources). So now we celebrate the real achievements. Our nerds think that #6 is what happened when AI won all the aerial dogfights in a simulated closed-world contest that was closely watched: According to Javorsek, fighter pilots need to be convinced of the capabilities and utility of AI in combat beyond current practice. DARPA’s AlphaDogfight is a step in this direction. By posing relevant questions, DARPA’s…

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colonnade in medieval spanish monastery of Santo Estevo

Can Religion Improve a Person’s Mental Health?

That’s a big claim but there is considerable evidence for it. The question is, what does the evidence mean?

In 2020, a year when Americans’ perception of their own mental health dropped significantly, we are told that Gallup reported: The only demographic subgroup who didn’t report a decline were those who attend religious services weekly. That group showed an increase of 4 percent compared to 2019. Joe Carter, “New Study: Frequent Churchgoers Have Better Mental Health” at Gospel Coalition Carter cites several sources arguing for the benefits of religion but, in truth, it’s not really a new idea. Religion gives people something to believe in, provides a sense of structure and typically offers a group of people to connect with over similar beliefs. These facets can have a large positive impact on mental health—research suggests that religiosity reduces suicide…

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Cybernetic Brain. Electronic chip in form of human brain in electronic cyberspace. Illustration on the subject of 'Artificial Intelligence'.

#7 AI Smash Hit: Why AI Can’t Do Your Thinking for You

Robert J. Marks: you change a pixel or two in an image and the deep convolutional neural network is totally wrong

Our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks is back with Jonathan Bartlett and Eric Holloway, assessing their Top Ten real advances (“Smash Hits”) in AI in 2020. Readers may recall that we offered a fun series during the holidays about the oopses and ums and ers in the discipline (typically hyped by uncritical sources). So now we celebrate the real achievements and our nerds think that #7 is honest recognition of the vulnerabilities of machine learning. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-116-Jonathan-Bartlett-Eric-Holloway.mp3 Our story begins at 19:37. Here’s a partial transcript. (Show Notes and Additional Resources follow, along with a link to the complete transcript.) Robert J. Marks:Hacking AI and exposing vulnerabilities in machine learning? What’s going on here Eric? Eric Holloway: AI suffers…

missing-piece

Chinese Entrepreneur Jack Ma Missing After Criticizing The Party

If even Jack Ma can just disappear in China’s high tech world, is anyone safe?

Several media outlets are asking “Where is Jack Ma?” China’s most well-known tech entrepreneur and self-made billionaire has not been seen publicly after a speech he gave at the Bund Summit in Shanghai in October criticizing China’s financial system. CNBC’s David Faber reports that Ma (pictured) is not missing but “laying low” and is purposely remaining less visible after his speech angered the CCP. Radio Free Asia, however, says Ma is definitely under a travel ban and may be “under restrictive measures.” More ominously, Asia Times Financial reports that a CCP mouthpiece has said Jack Ma is now “embracing supervision” at an undisclosed location. So who is Jack Ma? He is the founder of e-commerce company Alibaba Group. The company’s…

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アンドロメダ銀河

Physicists Say They Have Found the “Magic Number”

They have refined measurements of a number that is key to the workings of physics

Okay, first, it’s not literally “magic.” But some numbers are very important in the structure of our universe. In this case they are refining a very important but very strange number that links the forces of our universe: This pure number, with no units and dimensions, is key to the workings of the standard model of physics. Scientists were able to improve its precision 2.5 times or 81 parts per trillion (p.p.t.), determining the value of the constant to be α = 1/137.03599920611 (with the last two digits still being uncertain). Paul Ratner, “Scientists find the “magic number” that links forces of the universe” at BigThink The numbers that matter are not necessarily the ones we might expect. How about…

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dramatic sunset over cracked earth. Desert landscape background.

Sci Fi Saturday: What If There Were Serious Wars Over Clouds?

In a world that still has technology but is desperately short of water, that could happen

In “The Oceanmaker” (9:40 min, January 20, 2018) by Martell Animation, “After the seas have disappeared, a courageous pilot fights against vicious sky pirates for control of the last remaining source of water: the clouds.” The animation is well done. But character questions arise. The unnamed pilot seems very nervous. She succeeds in fighting off the water pirates who have clever methods for capturing the world’s remaining water from a remaining cloud. But it’s not clear why she is cast in the role. There are people out there who are much more comfortable with conflict. It’s also unclear why, in a devastated, waterless world, all that technology is still available (what about food, fuel, etc.?) However, the nice thing about…

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Young woman traveling in self driving car

#8 AI 2020 Smash Hit: Big Gains in Practical Self-Driving Cars

The people who have been pursuing Level Five self-driving are nowhere but Level Four is working well

Our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks is back with Jonathan Bartlett and Eric Holloway, explaining their choices for Top Ten real advances (“Smash Hits”) in AI in 2020. Readers may recall that we offered a fun series during the holidays about the oopses and ums and ers in the discipline (typically hyped by uncritical sources). Now it’s time to celebrate the real achievements and our nerds think that #8 is the big advances in practical self-driving cars, that is Level Four cars. The car industry defines five levels of self-driving. Level Five would be Elon Musk’s robotaxis that earn money all on their own while the owners’ sleep (hasn’t happened). Level Four is the practical approach, as Jonathan…

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Old Vintage Arcade Video Games in an empty dark gaming room with blue light with glowing displays and beautiful retro design

Sci Fi Saturday: Can Video Games Save a Lone Survivor?

The film features fine animations of apocalyptic scenes of post-civilization

In “High Score” (3:50 min) by Adrien Vallade, Lou Maurice De Reparaz, Brian Lim, Elodie Ferrer, Pablo Cortes, “In a post-apocalyptic world, a man takes refuge in an arcade.” This is a very short “short” from a French company. The animation scenes of ruin are very well done. Not wholly clear why the video arcade manages to work without a reliable power system but every film is allowed one improbable incident (only one). At any rate (no spoilers), the wholly lone guy actually finds an opponent to play the game with. Some of us would have liked the film to be longer and more complex. What if the opposing player were an intelligent alien or an elemental force? The film…

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open eye in space

Science-Based Reasons Why Materialism Is a Dead End

Bernardo Kastrup points out that there is an “impassable explanatory gap between material quantities and experiential qualities.”

Bernardo Kastrup, a Dutch computer scientist and philosopher who has published fundamental theoretical reflections on the mind matter problem, offers some useful reflections on why materialism can’t really be true. First—and we sometimes forget this—science only exists as it is perceived by the human mind. We could do it well or badly or someway in between. We could succeed or fail. But it is a world of ideas, not things. He writes, Materialism—the view that nature is fundamentally constituted by matter outside and independent of mind—is a metaphysics, in that it makes statements about what nature essentially is. As such, it is also a theoretical inference: we cannot empirically observe matter outside and independent of mind, for we are forever…

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male hand using navigation system on car dashboard

#9 AI Success: Smarter Cars for Non-Millionaires

If your car is a recent model, an affordable aftermarket kit might transform it into a much smarter car

Our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks is back with Jonathan Bartlett and Eric Holloway to assess the Top Ten real advances (“Smash Hits”) in AI in 2020. Readers may recall that we offered a fun series during the holidays about the oopses and ums and ers in the discipline (typically hyped by uncritical sources). Now it’s time to celebrate the real achievements. Our nerds think that the assisted driving kit from Comma.ai is one of them—an aftermarket kit that can make your car a smarter car. So here’s #9, featuring Eric Holloway who is a (smart) cheapskate: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-116-Jonathan-Bartlett-Eric-Holloway.mp3 Our story begins at 09:19. Here’s a partial transcript. (Show Notes and Additional Resources follow, along with a link to…