Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive July 2021

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Background with a Planet, Moon and Star

SETI’s Seth Shostak Explains the New Galileo Project To Find ET

Controversial Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb has put together a private funding package to search for alien life

The Galileo Project, formed in response to the recent release report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), proposes to look “systematically, scientifically and transparently” for evidence of ET. The report noted that a number of observed phenomena remain unexplained. SETI’s Seth Shostak explains: Avi Loeb, a Harvard astrophysicist who doesn’t hesitate to swim in the shark-infested waters of controversy, is proposing a major effort to find aliens in our solar system, perhaps even in our airspace. He has raised $1.7 million in private funding to launch something he calls the Galileo Project, an initiative to bring the rigor of experimental science to ufology. Loeb’s plan is to use a telescope now under construction, the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, to study interstellar…

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Working helmet on a pile of stones

When Emergency Services Are Run by AI … — Sci-fi Saturday

It’s not just that AI doesn’t care; it can’t. And that shows

“Stuck” (2020) by Pablo Andrés Tobón Gallo (at Dust July 28, 2021,14:38 min) Many light-years away from Earth, Eve, a mine colony operator, awakes to find herself trapped underground after an explosion went off at the surface. Fear increasing as she feels the walls closing around her, one of her hands trapped, an oxygen leak in her suit and unable to use her thrusters, Eve has to find a way out. Fast. Review: Harrowing. The horrifying thing about the story is that these kinds of accidents happen in Earth’s mines and similar high-risk situations in real life. Ana Isabel Castillo Betancur turns in a good performance as Eve, who has no idea how incompetent management response can be, especially when…

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Ideas escape from brain of pensive african man

Dualism Is Best Option for Understanding the Mind and the Brain

Theories that attempt to show that the mind does not really exist clearly don’t work and never did

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor did a recent podcast with Arjuna Das at Theology Unleashed, “where Eastern theology meets Western skepticism.” In this section (with transcript), they talk about ways we can understand the relationship between the mind and the brain: The basic options are materialist (several varieties), idealist, panpsychist, and dualist. The most popular textbook type theory is reductive materialism, which Egnor says argues that mental states are identical to brain states. Here is a partial transcript and notes for the thirty to forty-two minute mark: Identity theory Michael Egnor: Identity theory doesn’t mean that mental states come from brain states or that they correlate with brain states but that they are brain states, in the same way that the evening…

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Federal Judge Strikes Down Florida Big Tech Law

The judge ruled that the law violates the First Amendment rights of social media companies

A federal judge struck down the recent Florida legislation aimed at reigning in the censorship powers of Big Tech, hours before it was set to go into effect. Within days of Governor DeSantis signing the bill into law in May, NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) filed a lawsuit, representing the biggest names in social media (such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Amazon). They argued that the new law is a violation of their First Amendment rights as private companies. On June 30, Judge Robert L. Hinkle of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida ruled in favor of NetChoice and CCIA, issuing a preliminary injunction on the law after determining that it violates the First Amendment…

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The Word “AI” Has Become a Marketing Ploy

Think twice before investing in a business that uses the word "AI" without further explanation

Justin Wang received a bachelor’s degree from Murdoch University in 2012 with a grade of 83.7% and a master’s degree in Information Technology Management from the University of Sydney in 2016 with a grade of 82.5%. In January 2017, he founded a Singapore-based company with the mysteriously cool name Scry in order to “manage information technology to achieve business goals, as well as – and perhaps more importantly – how it can be wielded to disrupt existing value networks.” What’s behind the mystery and jargon? It turns out that Scry is a “social forecasting platform.” Users join for free and can enter their personal estimates of the probabilities that certain events will happen, with Scry calculating the average probability. For example, one question is,…

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Chinese Communist Party Called Out For Cyber Attacks

The DOJ has indicted members of state-backed hacker group APT40 for cyber crimes dating back to 2009

On the same day that several countries formally accused the Chinese government of malicious cyber behavior, the U.S. Department of Justice made public its indictment of four Chinese hackers who are part of the hacker group, APT40.* Deng Xiaoyang, Chen Qingmin, and Zhu Yunmin are associated with the Hainan providential arm of China’s Ministry of State Security, and Wu Shurong is a private contractor in Hainan. They are charged with Conspiracy to Damage Protected Computers, Conspiracy to Commit Economic Espionage, and Criminal Forfeiture. The unsealed grand jury indictment outlines cybercrimes dating back to July 2009 and continuing through September 2018.  From the indictment: The object of the conspiracy was to install malware and hacking tools on protected computers and to leverage such…

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Brain mind way soul and hope concept art, illustration, surreal mystery artwork, imagination painting, conceptual idea of success

How we can know mental states are real?

Mental states are always “about” something; physical states are not “about” anything

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor did a recent podcast with Arjuna Das at Theology Unleashed, “where Eastern theology meets Western skepticism.” In this section, they talk about how we can know that the mind is real and how materialist philosophy has just plain gone bad: Here is a partial transcript and notes for the twenty to thirty-one minute mark: Michael Egnor: There was a philosopher named Franz Brentano (1838–1917) in the 19th century who proposed what I think is the best definition of what distinguishes a mental state from a physical state. Brentano asks, is there any unique thing that all mental states have that no physical state has? He said, it’s intentionality, and by intentionality he meant that every mental state…

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Voice recognition, Machine Learning.

You Can Now Hear Our Articles When You Are Driving or Sweeping Up

Curious about that "loudspeaker" icon that has recently appeared in our articles?

You may have recently noticed a new icon that’s appeared on your screen at the beginning of our articles. If you press the little black button with the loudspeaker icon, you will find our article being read aloud for you. This exciting new application – which will make it easier for our readers to enjoy our content even while driving, doing chores, or running errands – is made possible by WebsiteVoice advances in artificial intelligence technology.  WebsiteVoice is a text-to-speech application that converts blog posts and online articles into audible material. It serves over 4,000 clients worldwide in 30 different languages. Founded by Mohamad Awad and Roz Burch, the WebsiteVoice team calls itself “a group of avid readers and podcast…

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Hand with microphone tied with rope, depicting the idea of freedom of the press, idea of the repression of the mass media or freedom of expression

Newsletter Group Creates Alarm Plus Demands for Censorship

Substack is getting a lot of ink these days — raising both hope from readers and hand wringing from old media

The traditional media our parents grew up with are slowly dying in a chronic low-ratings crises — but surprising new media are being born. Substack is getting a lot of ink these days — raising both hope and handwringing. Its very existence shows how information is rapidly changing. At Substack, an online subscription newsletter system founded in 2017, tech guys Chris Best and Hamish McKenzie point out bluntly that the “New York Times” model of information is doomed: Today, as a result of a mass shift of advertising revenue to Google and Facebook, the news business is in crisis. The great journalistic totems of the last century are dying. News organizations—and other entities that masquerade as them—are turning to increasingly…

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Pot with beautiful blooming azalea and cup of tea on table

How Science Points To Meaning in Life

The earliest philosopher of science, Aristotle, pioneered a way of understanding it

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor did a recent podcast with Arjuna Das at Theology Unleashed, “where Eastern theology meets Western skepticism.” Among other things, he talks about how science points to meaning in life. Earlier, he had explained why he ceased to be an atheist as he learned more about science and its dependence on mathematics, which is not a material thing. In this section, he talks about the importance of the concept of purpose in nature (teleology), with a hat tip to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BCE) Here is a partial transcript and notes for the fifteen- to twenty-minute mark: Michael Egnor: I think teleology is the cornerstone of understanding nature. That whole system of understanding nature, that includes…

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Abstract fractal spiral. Shell background

Quantum Theory of Consciousness Gains Support From Recent Study

The researchers were testing principles that underpin the Penrose–Hameroff theory

Cristiane de Morais Smith, a condensed matter physicist at the University of Utrecht in Belgium, has teamed up with colleagues from China led by quantum physicist Xian-Min Jin at Shanghai Jiaotong University to test principles that underpin a quantum theory of consciousness. Many dismiss the idea, originally proposed in the Nineties by Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff, because it is assumed that quantum mechanical laws (as opposed to classical physics laws) apply mainly at very low temperatures, for example at – 272 C, which is just below – 273 (absolute zero, when all classical movement stops). De Morais Smith and Xian-Min think, however, that they may have come a bit closer to validating the idea: Our brains are composed of…

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ビジネスプラン

How Informational Realism Subverts Materialism

Within informational realism, what defines things is their capacity for communicating or exchanging information with other things

Here are some brief excerpts from design theorist William Dembski’s chapter in a forthcoming book on informational realism: To see how informational realism dissolves the mind-body problem, we need first to be clear on what informational realism is and why it is credible. Informational realism is not simply the view that information is real. We live in an information age, so who doesn’t think that information is real? Rather, informational realism asserts that the ability to exchange information is the defining feature of reality, of what it means, at the most fundamental level, for any entity to be real. William A. Dembski, “Informational Realism Dissolves the Mind–Body Problem,” a chapter of the forthcoming Mind and Matter: Modern Dualism, Idealism and…

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Our Scientific Salvation Will Be The Death Of Us

Will we trust "the science" (meaning the scientists) to the point of madness?

Originally published at Patheos “The truly insane man is the perfectly rational man.” So says G.K. Chesterton. This saying is very counter intuitive today. The perfectly rational man is the ideal scientist, the man who knows reality in precise quantitative terms, the best kind of knowledge we have. Such scientific knowledge promises the secret of immortality. If we can understand the fundamentals of our physical existence, we can shape our existence in whatever way we wish. The rational man is the messiah of our scientific age. So, why did Chesterton warn us about the rational man? The problem is that rationality only deals with the known knowns and the known unknowns. Rationality does not deal with the unknown unknowns. The…

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Atom Particle

Why Neurosurgeon Mike Egnor Stopped Being a Materialist Atheist

He found that materialism is just not working out in science

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor did another podcast with Arjuna Das at Theology Unleashed, “where Eastern theology meets Western skepticism.” Among other things, Egnor talked about why he ceased to be an atheist as he learned more about science and its dependence on mathematics, which is not a material thing. A partial transcript follows, taking us down to 15 minutes, with notes (more in a further installment): Arjuna Das: (00:01:49) Today, I’ve got Michael Egnor on. I’m very delighted to have him on for a second time. He’s a neurosurgeon, a Christian, and he’s quite good at arguing philosophy too… W So we’ll start out with him telling a little bit of a story, how he changed his metaphysical views through things…

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No, the Surveillance State isn’t Better in the Hands of the Public

Matt Walsh's suggestion that cameras be installed in every classroom is understandable, but it won't teach children to live in a free society

In the modern era, cameras are everywhere. Nearly every person — man, woman, or child — carries a high-end video camera with them everywhere they go on their cell phone. This proliferation of cheap surveillance equipment has caused society to largely re-think the ethics of surveillance. In previous generations, sound and video recording devices were expensive. While recording equipment in general was not out of the reach of ordinary people, miniaturized equipment was, and having enough of it to actually “surveil” someone or something was quite expensive. Today, I can have nondescript cameras set up in each room in my house for just a few hundred dollars. This ability for ordinary people to engage in constant surveillance of their own…

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Close encounters of the third kind. Unidentified objects coming from space. Contact with extraterrestrials UFO.

NASA Seeks Standards for ET Life Claims

The agency wants to develop a credibility scale so we know what to pay attention to

What with everything from Oumuamua to phosphine on Venus claiming our attention, NASA thinks it’s time to develop some standards for what constitutes a credible claim about extraterrestrial life: “The discovery of a potential biosignature in [a planet’s] atmosphere is important, but it’s just the start,” said Green in an interview. “You have to examine potential false positives, whether there are [non-biological] ways to form the chemical, whether the measurement is an artifact of your instrument, whether the environment on the planet is conducive or hostile to life, whether water is present.” Applying such a chain of reasoning could result in a kind of credibility scale for the general public to turn to when they read about new results in…

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アンドロメダ銀河

Some Say That the Universe Is a Donut. Others Say It’s a Hole.

Actually, as astrophysicist Ethan Siegel points out, there’s only one universe — which makes theorizing about it a problem.

At Forbes, theoretical astrophysicist Ethan Siegel comments: The true problem with the Universe is that there’s only one to observe, or at least, only one that we’re capable of observing. We don’t have a large sample of Universes to compare between, and we don’t have a large set of data points available to us within our Universe. It’s like rolling five dice, together, once. Your odds of getting all sixes is small: about 1-in-7800. Yet if you rolled five dice at once and saw that it came up all sixes, you wouldn’t necessarily conclude that it was anything more than random chance. Sometimes, nature just doesn’t give you the most likely outcome. It’s possible that the leftover photons from the…

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Time and space travel concept abstract background

What If Only Part of You Could Be Teleported? — Sci-Fi Saturday

A rooftop smoke break reveals a dreadful secret

“Liminal” at DUST by Collin Davis and Matt Litwiller (July 19, 2021, 6:47 min) From the producers: “Liminal explores big ideas in contained spaces: a character piece with a sci-fi backdrop. Gwen, the lead scientist on a secret experiment to teleport humans, encounters a co-worker on a smoke break. As she grapples with the implications of recent discoveries it’s clear that a dire mistake has been made. Her test subject has lost something along the way. ” Review: “We sent a man to Europa and brought him back in two-thirds of a second … the solar system just got smaller.” This short film benefits from good performances by Anna Campbell (Gwen) and Max Lesser ( Tim), lending authenticity to a…

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Wild Zoo Animal Squares

Would You Become an Animal to Save a Species? — Sci-fi Saturday

The animation is good and the question raised is interesting

“Floreana” at DUST by Louis Morton (Jul 23, 2021), 4:13 min, originally at IMDB 2019 “On a remote island in the future, people are training for an important mission. Take a look at the mechanics of this training facility and the creatures within.” Review: Floreana is an animated film which offers a genuine surprise in terms of how humans in the future might propose to deal with the issue of endangered wildlife. It’s a bit unrealistic (how many people would really go along with living inside animals?) but worth thinking about. Just the right length to get across the basic idea. Films reviewed are sorted roughly by length so you can choose films based on how much time you have.…

Environmental awareness, global warming consciousness and aspirations to protect future of the planet conceptual idea with close up on hand holding the earth in the open palm

The Day Philosophers Started To Take Consciousness Seriously

Of course, once they did, they found themselves deep in huge conundrums

We sometimes forget how far we are from solving the mystery of consciousness. An anecdote from 1994 might help us understand. Picture an utterly boring, pointless conference in Tucson, Arizona, one of whose attendees was an obscure philosopher from Australia, scheduled to give the third talk. And shook everything up: The brain, Chalmers began by pointing out, poses all sorts of problems to keep scientists busy. How do we learn, store memories, or perceive things? How do you know to jerk your hand away from scalding water, or hear your name spoken across the room at a noisy party? But these were all “easy problems”, in the scheme of things: given enough time and money, experts would figure them out.…