Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive August 2021

Kai-Fu Lee

Kai-Fu Lee, Inventor of Speech Recognition, to Speak at COSM 2021

Lee is one of many technological geniuses appearing in Seattle this November

This November in Seattle, some of the most brilliant minds in technology will gather for COSM, an exclusive national summit on how technology is remaking the world as we know it. Among its many speakers will be Kai-Fu Lee, a computer scientist, businessman, and the inventor of speech recognition. Lee’s credentials are many and impressive. After his Ph.D. work at Carnegie Mellon (which produced continuous speech recognition), he has journeyed through the offices of Apple, SGI, Microsoft, and Google. In 2009, he launched Sinovation Ventures in an effort to financially support up-and-coming Chinese high-tech companies. In 2018, Lee gave a TED talk on how human beings can thrive in an era of AI. The video (posted below) is worth the…

グローバルネットワーク デジタルコンテンツ

Peter Thiel Speaking in Person at COSM, Seattle, November 10

As a world class venture capitalist, he is known for bluntness about what works and what doesn’t

COSM 2021 is the place to be, November 10–12, to get the inside track on the converging technologies remaking the world as we know it. This year, iconic Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel will be speaking in person, addressing the question “Is Technology Soaring or Slumping?” At the first COSM in October 2019, Peter Thiel spoke by interactive video. Not one to mince words, he told the attendees bluntly that Silicon Valley is losing its touch and compared universities today to the Catholic Church at its worst. He has a remarkable history in both areas. He has been a prime mover in PayPal, Facebook, Palantir, Airbnb, Lyft, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX. And he had intended to found a university. But,…

Horseshoe Crab and Sand

Do Brains Really Evolve? The Horseshoe Crab’s Brain Didn’t

It’s very rare to find an intact fossil brain but a rare combination of minerals preserved one from 310 million years ago

Recently, paleontologist Russell Bicknell and colleagues found a fossil horseshoe crab in the Yale Peabody Museum, originally from the Mazon Creek fossil beds near Chicago. That, in itself wasn’t spectacular but, for geological reasons, the creature’s brain was preserved, an extremely rare situation. So how much had the horseshoe crab’s brain changed in 310 million years? Not at all, really: A new beautifully preserved fossil of a horseshoe crab has now revealed that their brains have hardly changed since at least the Carboniferous Period… The brain structure of the ancient crab is almost identical to that of living species. In fact, it is this extraordinary similarity that meant the researchers could be confident that what they were looking at was…

Adult and child hands holding encephalography brain paper cutout, Epilepsy and alzheimer awareness, seizure disorder, mental health concept

Epilepsy: If You Follow the Science, Materialism Is Dead

Continuing a discussion with Arjuna Das at Theology Unleashed, Dr. Egnor talks about how neurosurgery shows that the mind is not the brain

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnordid a recent podcast with Arjuna Das at Theology Unleashed, “where Eastern theology meets Western skepticism.” In the previous segment, they discussed the way in which people’s minds sometimes become much clearer near death (terminal lucidity). Dr. Egnor suggested that that may demonstrate that the brain constrains the mind (rather than creating it). In this segment, they look at objections raised to the view that epilepsy provides evidence for the mind as not merely a function of the brain. Dr. Egnor begins by focusing on the work of Wilder Penfield, the founder of epilepsy surgeries, who worked in Montreal in the mid-twentieth century, “a wonderful scientist, one of the best scientists that neurosurgery has produced”: Here is a…

Business woman using tablet with cryptocurrency bitcoin link network concept

Will Going Mainstream Spoil the Fun for Crypto?

Crypto exchange FTX.US is, for a tidy sum, naming a Berkeley sports field, with philanthropy thrown in

At least one cryptocurrency exchange seem to be settling into the accustomed round of corporate donorship that creates name recognition with the public. FTX.US, affiliated with global crypto exchange FTX, has given Cal Athletics (University of California, Berkeley) $17.3 million for the right to call the field at field at California Memorial Stadium “FTX Field” for ten years. FTX has been creating recognition with other strategic donations as well: FTX has been on a sports and e-sports sponsorship spending spree this year. In March, the exchange secured the naming rights to the home arena of NBA team Miami Heat for a reported $135 million, while in June, the exchange paid $210 million to acquire the naming rights for e-sports organization…

Social media concept.

Federal Trade Commission Takes Facebook to Court… Again

The FTC hopes to prove in an 80-page complaint that Facebook holds damaging monopoly power over competitors

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed an amended complaint against Facebook, trying again for an antitrust lawsuit after a federal judge dismissed their original complaint earlier this summer. The updated complaint alleges that Facebook has violated antitrust laws and garnered monopoly power, namely by buying up rival companies and imposing unfair policies that “neutralize perceived competitive threats.” Facebook is the world’s dominant online social network, with a purported three billion-plus regular users. Facebook has maintained its monopoly position in significant part by pursuing Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) Mark Zuckerberg’s strategy, expressed in 2008: “it is better to buy than compete.” True to that maxim, Facebook has systematically tracked potential rivals and acquired companies that it viewed as serious competitive…

Dozens of Drones Swarm in the Cloudy Sky.

EMPs Could Combat Vast Drone Swarms Better Than Weapons

Electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) that knock out electronics could be weaponized to disable swarms of enemy drones, a predicted new warfare development

In “EMPs from the sun can wipe computers — and streetlights,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks spoke with electrical engineer Sarah Seguin about electromagnetic pulses (August 12, 2021). Whether natural or designed, these surges can wreck unexpected havoc with electronics. In this third podcast, “EMPs and Warfare,” engineers Marks and Seguin talk about the national defense implications of, for example, using EMPs to knock out key electronics systems in submarines or drone swarms, thus dooming them (August 19, 2021): https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-Episode-148-Sarah-Seguin.mp3 This portion begins at 09:45 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: Okay. Well, let’s talk a bit about EMPs and warfare. Clearly anybody that has a capability of doing a thermonuclear…

Robotic handyman pliers handwrench. Fixing maintenance concept. Creative design toy with metal funnel hopper, cogs wheels gears silver metallic body. Green wall, blue floor background. Copy space

Nobody is Taking Tesla AI Seriously Anymore

Tesla's "AI Day" presented reasonable discussion until the "robot" showed up

Recently, Tesla held its “AI Day.” Tesla often creates an event which highlights some aspect of their business that they want to promote to investors, customers, or to potential employees. Tesla has had “battery day” and “autonomy day” to promote Tesla efforts on those fronts. It is an attempt to keep excitement and exposure to a maximum during seasons when there are no big product reveals. While Elon Musk is typically guilty of leading people on with extravagant (and unwarranted) claims about Tesla technology, these events have recently shown a more reserved side to Tesla’s front man. In “battery day,” he was expected to launch a million-mile battery, but instead talked mostly about getting access to the minerals needed for…

escheresque city
Skyscrapers and City. 3d illustration

Quantum Physicist Shows How Consciousness Can Create Reality

In his argument against physicalism (physical nature is all there is), Andersen draws from the 19th-century philosopher Schopenhauer the concept of Will as the basis of all reality

Tim Andersen, principal research scientist at Georgia Tech in general relativity and quantum field theory and author of The Infinite Universe: A First Principles Guide (2020), offers a riff on the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860). He argues, with Schopenhauer, that Will is the basis of reality: The key to understanding Will is in examining our own sense of consciousness. We have, in a sense, two levels of consciousness. The first is of experience. We experience a flower’s color and smell. Therefore, we are conscious of it. The second is that we are aware of our consciousness of it. That is a meta-consciousness which we sometimes call reflection. I reflect on my awareness of the flower. It is this second level…

walk into fog
Man with his back walking through the fog street

Is a Science Writer’s “Agnosticism” a Futile Pursuit?

John Horgan, a creative thinker and able writer, is agnostic about quantum mechanics, consciousness, and God. But let’s look at the bases for that.

If science writer John Horgan had merely said that agnosticism is the only sensible stance regarding God, there would be little surprise. That view is over-represented in popular science writing. But he says the same thing about quantum mechanics and consciousness too. Some brief snippets from his article (with brief responses): He’s not happy that quantum mechanics, a well-established branch of science (our computers would not work if it were not real) cannot eliminate the role of the conscious observer: Quantum mechanics Introducing consciousness into physics undermines its claim to objectivity. Moreover, as far as we know, consciousness arises only in certain organisms that have existed for a brief period here on Earth. So how can quantum mechanics, if it’s…

Illustration of embryonic stem cells

Paper: Culture, Computing Should Be Considered “Life Forms”

The idea of broadening the definition of life isn’t wholly new. Astronomer Fred Hoyle wrote a sci-fi novel about intelligent gaseous clouds

Some researchers are urging us to broaden our definition of life, which may have an impact on the search for life on exoplanets. In a new paper, published in the Journal of Molecular Evolution, Santa Fe Institute researchers Chris Kempes and David Krakauer argue that in order to recognize life’s full range of forms, we must develop a new theoretical frame. Santa Fe Institute, ” New theory of life’s multiple origins” at ScienceDaily Although there are many definitions of life, they all assume a strict separation between life and non-life — and that is what the researchers challenge: Culture, computation, and forests are all forms of life in this frame. As Kempes explains, “human culture lives on the material of…

Smart car (HUD) , Autonomous self-driving mode vehicle on metro city road iot concept with graphic sensor radar signal system and internet sensor connect.

Machine World at Its Most Nihilist — Sci-fi Saturday

This very short animated cyberpunk thriller portrays a world of autonomous vehicles where faces are very rare

“Autonomous” (2020) uploaded at DUST by Joe Sill (June 24, 2021, 4:38 min) Animated. An animated cyberpunk thriller centered around a motorcycle gang of traffickers in a world of autonomous vehicles.Yuri and her brother Nyx face off against the Metro Task Force as they transport an important package to a client. Review: This animated (very) shortfilm sketches drug dealing in Detroit in a world of autonomous vehicles. It’s a mad rush on motorcycles to a pier amid sealed robocars, pursued by cops who are not clearly human. It’s certainly a scary and inhuman world. The story ends, as so many real-life ones do, with a tragic waste of life. But there seems no point to it really. “Autonomous” seems to…

The Andromeda Galaxy

Veteran Science Writer Says We Won’t Meet Intelligent Aliens

Not because they are not there but because vast interstellar distances make them unreachable

“It does not matter if intelligent life exists elsewhere. We will never find each other,” says veteran science writer Alex Berezow. He’s not saying they are not out there. He is throwing cold water on our chances of contacting them. Some things, he admits, have changed: Thanks to advances in astrophysics, we now know that there are billions of exoplanets in the Milky Way alone, leading most of the scientific community to conclude that life probably does exist elsewhere in the universe. Those who do not believe so are now considered the kooks. And while alien abductions are still not in the mainstream, UFOs are — so much so that the U.S. intelligence community just issued a report on them. Alex Berezow, “We are…

Crashed Satellite Flying Toward The Earth

A Space Mission to Infinity — Sci-fi Saturday

After the space station module crash, the astronaut finds himself befriended by a friendly but mysterious neighbor. Who is he really?

“Flotando” (2018), uploaded at DUST by director Frankie De Leonardis (August 20, 2021, 7:55): A Russian astronaut awakes on a space station module after a crash. Space debris has left the module severely damaged and isolated. As the astronaut tries to reconnect to the base strange noises turn his attention to the outside. The knocks become closer until a strange character emerges. He’s come to welcome the astronaut. Puzzled, scared, and believing everything to be a hallucination the astronaut tries to focus on his communication efforts, but the character decides to open the hatch and let himself in. The story is about realizing and accepting with a sci-fi tone and a surreal twist. Review: The film is a touch surreal.…

Eextraterrestrial aliens spaceship fly above surreal terrain

Data Analyst Offers 15 Reasons Extraterrestrials Aren’t Seen

He estimates that there should be 100,000 civilizations in our galaxy

Data analyst Yung Lin Ma offers fifteen reasons, including some new to us. He begins by observing, There are about 1 billion stars that can produce an environment similar to the Earth. The environment of the earth does not necessarily have life, and this ratio is lower than 1 in 10,000. The reasoning is that at least in our galaxy, there should be 100,000 civilizations. Then why haven’t we seen even any single one civilization? Yung Lin Ma, “15 Reasons Why We Can’t See Aliens” at Medium (July 14, 2020) So, it’s an active question. Of his fifteen reasons, here are three: 3. Extraterrestrial life does exist, and has visited the earth. It was just a long time ago. Later,…

burning wires on the computer power on a black background, close-up, burnt computer equipment

EMPs From the Sun Can Wipe Computers — and Streetlights

Electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) can do that as accidents of nature. But they can also be weaponized. Russia and China both have the technology to detonate at EMP from space.

In “Are your electronics protected against sudden surges?, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks spoke with electrical engineer Sarah Seguin about electromagnetic pulses. (August 5, 2021) Whether natural or designed, these surges can wreck unexpected havoc with electronics. In this second podcast, “EMPs. Be afraid. Be very afraid,” Marks, himself a computer and electrical engineer, and Seguin delve further into the risks (August 12, 2021). For example, in 1989, an electromagnetic coronal mass ejection from the sun infiltrated power plants across North America and northern Europe and destroyed a nuclear power plant’s transformer: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-147-Sarah-Seguin.mp3 This portion begins at 00:13 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: Welcome to Mind Matters News. I’m your…

Cocktail drink on night club.

Defending the Mind’s Reality at a Materialist Cocktail Party

What to say when you find yourself among self-assured elite sloganeers

Most of the university cocktail set is quite sure that the mind is simply what the brain does. To doubt that, in their view, is to part company with science. And yet the evidence points in the opposite direction. If you are stuck with them, here are some snatches of their usual brilliance, along with suggested replies and their sources. Arguments from evolution Claim: We are just animals so, as we might expect, the human brain is not really unique. The human, mouse, and fly brains all use the same basic mechanisms!1 Response: That’s the remarkable part. What we do with our brains sets us apart. And greater size doesn’t really account for that. Lemurs, whose brains are only 1/200th…

woman with gray hair in green jumper talking to the digital virtual assistant at home, asking a question or requesting to switch music. Smart AI speaker concept and voice command control

Automated “Caring”: The Limits of Talking to a Machine

Are there situations where a person would simply prefer to talk to a machine? Some researchers think so

“Just get me to a human!” Those were my words just a few weeks ago, the last time I can recall speaking directly to a machine. It was the Xfinity phone system assistant. I get that there’s a need for large national corporations to effectively manage interactions with their customers, especially with the labor shortages and spikes in internet usage brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. But leaving me to fend for myself with a machine – especially a stubborn, unhelpful one! – isn’t my idea of superior customer service. Eventually, the Comcast assistant got the drift and passed me on to a human being, who quickly and kindly helped me out by doing exactly what the machine said could…

email marketing concept, send e-mail or newsletter

Why So Many Mainstream Media Figures Really Hate Substack

The subscription newsletter service allows good writers to reach their audiences without a horde of censors and gatekeepers, as is usually the case in mainstream media today

Substack — a newsletter site where popular writers can make money via private newsletters — has thoroughly rattled many traditional legacy mainstream media. Founded in 2017 and headquartered in San Francisco, it essentially ensures that the writer, not the medium, is the primary financial beneficiary of the writer’s talent. It also doesn’t need to censor writers on account of, say, money from China. One result is that many well-known writers from, for example, the New York Times, Vox, and BuzzFeed quit their jobs and started writing for newsletter subscribers who pay for premium content, print or podcast, typically $5 a month or $50 a year. Only a few thousand subscribers are needed to generate a nice income for a talented…

A cuban flag with holes waves over a street in Central Havana. La Habana, as the locals call it, is the capital city of Cuba

Social Media Was Instrumental in Recent Cuba Protests

Social media broke down barriers and helped galvanize the Cuban people against their Communist government

One month after protests broke out across Cuba, the island’s Communist government has released a new set of internet and social media regulations specifically aimed at cracking down on anti-government activity. The Cuban government released the new regulations on Tuesday, forbidding internet content that is critical of the state’s policies, specifically on “constitutional, social and economic” matters, as well as content that could incite actions “that alter public order.” In addition, Cubans are now encouraged to report any content violating the new regulations, using a government-created form. Penalties for violating the new internet use decrees will be determined by legislation at a later date. Why such a crackdown on internet content? It’s because social media was essential to the widespread…