Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive August 2021

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Colorful wooden alphabet letters  isolated on white background and texture, top view

How the Split Brain Emphasizes the Reality of the Mind

Fascinating research following up Roger Sperry’s work — which showed that the mind is not split when the brain is — has confirmed and extended his findings

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor did a recent podcast with Arjuna Das at Theology Unleashed, “where Eastern theology meets Western skepticism.” In the previous segment, they discuss the significance of the fact that there are aspects of the human mind that cannot be split into parts — as demonstrated by the work of Nobelist Roger Sperry (1913–1994). In this segment, they discuss the neuroscientists who followed up on and extended Sperry’s work — one of whom met a tragic end: Here is a partial transcript and notes for the 1 hour 6 minute mark through the 1 hour 12 minute mark: Michael Egnor: There has been some absolutely intriguing work done since Sperry that I think very clearly shows the existence of…

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Crypto Art Non-fungible token (NFT). Digital art

4 NFTs: You Bought One. But Do You Really Own It? Could You Ever?

Right now, the non-fungible tokens markets leave a lot to be desired as a business proposition, Bernard Fickser explains why

Introduction: At Expensivity, Bernard Fickser explains that a non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique token in cryptography that represents, say, real estate or art rather than money. Because the tokens have unique identities (non-fungible), they can be bought or sold while reducing the risk of fraud. So how do they work?: The series is called How Non-Fungible Tokens Work: NFTs Explained, Debunked, and Legitimized (July 30, 2021). In Part 4, he looks at the question of what benefits NFTs, in their current state, really confer on you (or don’t): 4 What Just Happened? The creation and purchase of an NFT as described in the last section raises a lot of interesting — and troubling — questions. It’s easy enough to…

China stock market exchange / Shanghai stock market analysis forex indicator of changes graph

China’s Crackdown on Big Tech: Didi Global Inc.

In an authoritarian government, data is power

The Chinese Communist Party is on a campaign to reign in the private sector and some analysts say it is just the beginning. According to Wall Street Journal: Investors, analysts and company executives believe the government is just getting started in its push to realign the relationship between private business and the state, with a goal of ensuring companies do more to serve the Communist Party’s economic, social and national-security concerns. Jing Yang, Keith Zhai, and Quentin Webb, “China’s Corporate Crackdown Is Just Getting Started. Signs Point to More Tumult Ahead” at Wall Street Journal. Last November, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) reined in Ant Group, Ltd. which was poised to open on the Shanghai and Hong Kong index with…

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a hand rolling dice

Randomness is Not a Scientific Explanation

We can never know if anything is truly random

It is common in the sciences to claim aspects of our universe are random: In evolution, mutations are random. In quantum physics, the wave collapse is random. In biology, much of the genome is random. In business theory, organizational ecologists state new ideas are random. There is a general idea that everything new has its origins in randomness. This is because within our current philosophy of science, the two fundamental causes in our universe boil down to randomness and necessity. Since necessity never creates anything new, then by process of elimination the source of newness must be randomness. Similar to how the ancient Greeks believed the universe originated from chaos. Here’s the irony of the view that whatever is unique…

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Justice and law concept. Gavel on sounding block in hand's Male judge at a courtroom, working with document law books, report the case on table in modern office.

Section 230: What Is It and Why the Controversy?

Does Section 230 provide Big Tech too much power, or is it necessary for the moderation of misinformation and inappropriate content?

At the center of the controversy between free speech and the rights of private companies lies Section 230, the controversial U.S. code dating back to 1996. Toward the end of his term in 2020, former President Donald Trump famously tweeted that Section 230 should be “completely terminated.” Sen. Josh Hawley, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard voiced their support, but by and large, the sentiment was met with fierce resistance. Advocates for the reform (or complete repeal) of Section 230 argue that it shields Big Tech companies from accountability when they engage in politically-motivated censorship and content moderation. Supporters of Section 230 argue that it is essential to keep the internet free of misinformation and vile or obscene material. Section 230…

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Models of two brain halves on black background

The Brain Can Be Split But the Mind Can’t

Neuroscientist Roger Sperry found that splitting the brain in half does not split consciousness in half. It just gives you a rather interesting, but very subtle set of perceptual disabilities

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor did a recent podcast with Arjuna Das at Theology Unleashed, “where Eastern theology meets Western skepticism.” In this segment, they discuss the significance of the fact that there are aspects of the human mind that cannot be split into parts — as demonstrated by the work of Nobelist Roger Sperry (1913–1994). Here is a partial transcript and notes for the 57 minute mark to the 1 hour five minute mark: Michael Egnor: If one is to try to understand the mind in a coherent, consistent framework, one wants to have a metaphysical perspective that does the job, that makes sense. I think there are three different metaphysical perspectives that one could consider, materialist, idealist, and dualist… By…

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cute model of the Earth, Sun and Moon with googly eyes on the chalkboard, a donut, a globe and a cookie on the chalkboard

When God Gets Distracted — Sci-fi Saturday

A clever animated short offers a take on why there is so much violence and chaos in the world

“Tales from the Multiverse” uploaded at DUST by director Magnus Igland Møller (August 6, 2021, 6:36 min, animated) “God is a single parent and amateur programmer. He’s working on project ‘Earth’ but never seems to get a break from the kids. One day though, he finally gets a breakthrough.” Review: This film debuted in 2020 (IMDB). It’s a clever riff on why we live in a crazy world. God can’t really concentrate on the computer program he is using to simulate (create Earth) because he is breaking up fights between his kids. He tries out Adam and Eve, a round Earth and a flat Earth, and dinosaurs living alongside Stone Age people. But his absence, even when he seems to…

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Crab close up, Cuba

If We Find Life on Exoplanets, Some of It Might Be “Crabs”

Over millions of years, many crustaceans gradually grew to look more and more like crabs, a process called convergent evolution

The earliest crablike creatures are thought to date from about 365 million years ago (the Late Devonian period). But the odd thing is that many creatures that did not start out looking like crabs have, over tens of millions of years, grown to look like them. A good many lobster-like decapods (= they have ten feet) began to look like crabs (carcinization). Possible causes include greater mobility (some crabs can climb trees), easier hiding in narrow spaces, and less temptation for predators (no juicy tail). Biologists call this process convergent evolution — life forms converge on the same solutions to their problems even if they are not closely related. So we might ask, if we find life on other planets,…

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the giant robot launching rocket punch destroy the city,illustration painting

Real vs. Digital Humans Locked in All-Out War — Sci-fi Saturday

The reals are attacking the digitals and the digitals invade Toronto in the 24th century in an attempt to power them down

“E-X-T” by director Adrian Bobb (Uploaded at DUST August 2, 2021, 7:38 min) “200 years after humanity has abandoned the real world for a digital one, the system’s most talented security agent is forced out of retirement to recruit and lead a team of talented warriors to eliminate a threat from a world no one has seen for centuries. The real world.” Further: “In the snow-covered ruins of 24th century Toronto, AEGIS, a humanoid war machine, leads a team of five similar yet unique machines into the EXT, the new real-world to retake an enemy-occupied server installation vital to the survival of their digital homeland. During an attempt to ambush a large pack of enemy-controlled war-drones, AEGIS recalls an interrogation…

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Starlight night

Quantum Physicist: Aliens May Communicate by Starlight

Terry Rudolph of Imperial College, London, argues that they may have evolved so as to take advantage of quantum mechanics via photonics more easily than we can

Terry Rudolph of Imperial College in London argues in a recent preprint paper that technologically advanced extraterrestrials might manipulate the light from stars to send messages over great distances“ — almost like a series of interstellar smoke signals,” as science writer Dan Robitzski puts it: The physics of the ordeal get a bit dense — which is probably reasonable if aliens are rapidly communicating across star systems — but the basic idea is to use entangled photons from different stars to transmit messages that appear to be random twinkling to any nosy onlookers. Dan Robitzski, “Scientist claims that aliens may be communicating via starlight” at Futurism That’s a reason, it is suggested, why we might not “see” extraterrestrials. Rudolph’s open-access…

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An internet email symbol and a group of people are separated by a red prohibitory symbol No. restrictions on access to the global Internet. Censorship. Information control, society isolation policy

Is “Misinformation” Another Way to Say “Unwelcome Information”?

Cameron English notes that, on social media, major media outlets can botch the science with impunity but the slightest offenses, real or imagined, get others silenced

At American Council on Science and Health (“promoting science and debunking junk since 1978”), Cameron English reflects on the handwringing among social media companies about how to crack down on “misinformation” on COVID-19. Given the number of authoritative statements made and suddenly reversed, tt seems that any such crackdown would largely be driven by politics. For example: Facebook recently announced that it would “no longer take down posts claiming that Covid-19 was man-made or manufactured,” and the company’s new policy nicely underscores this point about credibility. What was the social media platform’s justification for allowing users to discuss the lab-spillover hypothesis? It didn’t hire a team of virologists and foreign policy experts to assess the viability of competing explanations for…

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Non-fungible token hologram on virtual digital screen, nft with network circuit and globe. Dark background. Concept of cryptoart and technology

How To Create Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), Simplified

While still deeply skeptical of what ownership of an NFT really means at present, Fickser decided to experiment with creating, buying, and selling NFTs

Introduction: At Expensivity, Bernard Fickser explains that a non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique token in cryptography that represents, say, real estate or art rather than money. Because the tokens have unique identities (non-fungible), they can be bought or sold while reducing the risk of fraud. So how do they work?: The series is called How Non-Fungible Tokens Work: NFTs Explained, Debunked, and Legitimized (July 30, 2021). In Part 3, Fickser demonstrates the do-it-yourself minting of NFTs. 3 The Do-It-Yourself Minting of NFTs The process of creating NFTs, along with buying and selling them, is simple and straightforward. All that’s required is setting up a crypto wallet that handles Ethereum cryptocurrency (ETH), loading it with some of that currency, visiting…

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Empty old opera gala theater stage and red velvet curtains

How Philosopher John Locke Turned Reality Into Theatre

His “little theater in the mind” concept means that you can’t even know that nature exists. It may just be a movie that’s being played in front of your eyes

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor did a recent podcast with Arjuna Das at Theology Unleashed, “where Eastern theology meets Western skepticism.” In this segment, they discuss the way in which theories of perception that began in the early modern era (17thcentury on) led to doubt about our ability to perceive reality. Here is a partial transcript and notes for the forty-seven to fifty-seven minute mark: The Cartesian theater of the mind Arjuna Das: This is one of [the Vedic] arguments against the brain explaining consciousness. By the time it reaches the end stages of its processing, you have about 20 pixels worth of data. So the information that comes from your senses gives you reference points and then your sensors actually are…

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Beautiful Young Woman Looking Through Binoculars At The Sea On A Bright Sunny Day

Peering Into the Future with Nikola Danaylov

In a new online series, futurist Danaylov shares both wisdom and folly about future expectations for science and technology

Is our future determined? And if so, what is it determined by? These are the questions Nikola Danaylov is discussing at Singularity Weblog, an online format the futurist author and podcaster uses for addressing topics of science, technology, humanity, and the future. In his latest series, Danaylov – who playfully addresses himself as “Socrates” – posits that humanity’s future is, indeed, determined – determined by the stories we tell ourselves.  Before we jump into his fascinating analyses, let’s take a look at Danaylov himself to understand the worldview from which he writes. Danaylov is a futurist author and speaker based in Toronto, Canada. As a futurist, Danaylov is optimistic about the future of technology and the possibility of an age…

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Man at work signing legal contract by using digital signature

Can Digital Signatures Protect NFTs in Digital Marketplaces?

The concept of owning an NFT on a blockchain is specific to the blockchain, with no legal force in society at large

Introduction: At Expensivity, Bernard Fickser explains that a non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique token in cryptography that represents, say, real estate or art rather than money. Because the tokens have unique identities (non-fungible), they can be bought or sold while reducing the risk of fraud. So how do they work?: The series is called How Non-Fungible Tokens Work: NFTs Explained, Debunked, and Legitimized (July 30, 2021). In Part 2, we look at digital signatures 2 Digital signatures in digital marketplaces Of course, there’s more to the story. As already suggested, when someone buys a non-fungible token, they’re not simply buying a digital file of some collectible that can be readily copied. So what exactly are they buying? To understand…

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Joke

Why Animals Can Count But Can’t Do Math

A numerical cognition researcher outlines the differences between recognizing numbers and doing math

At The Conversation, psychology professor Silke Goebel offers some perspective on the differences between the way animals and small children process numbers and the way adults do. As a researcher in numerical cognition, she tries to focus on how brains process numbers. Her research shows that Humans and animals actually share some remarkable numerical abilities – helping them make smart decisions about where to feed and where to take shelter. But as soon as language enters the picture, humans begin outperforming animals, revealing how words and digits underpin our advanced mathematical world. Silke Goebel, “Why animals recognise numbers but only humans can do maths” at The Conversation (July 28, 2021) Essentially, she says, there are two different types of counting…

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Blockchains Have NFTs Unnecessarily Tied Down

New ideas propose severing the accidental relationship between NFTs and blockchains

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), for those who haven’t been paying attention, are digital collectibles that have been gaining popularity. Essentially, they allow someone to “mark” their “ownership” of a piece of cyberspace.  Since their original inception in 2012, NFTs have invariably been tied to blockchain technology. However, a recent review of the technology by Bernard Fickser has shown that there is nothing inherently tying NFTs to blockchain. In fact, blockchains may be holding NFTs back considerably. (For those needing a refresher, a short guide to how the blockchain works can be found here.) In his article, Fickser notes several interesting discrepancies between NFTs and cryptocurrencies. First of all, there is a lot of technology built into cryptocurrencies to keep them anonymous, while the entire point of…

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matching keys made of circuits & led lights, encryption & crypto

Cryptography: Are Non-Fungible Tokens a Scam? Or Can They Work?

By Warren Buffett’s logic, if cryptocurrencies are rat poison squared, non-fungible tokens are rat poison to an infinite power. But is that all there is to be said about them?

Introduction: At Expensivity, Bernard Fickser explains that a non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique token in cryptography that represents, say, real estate or art rather than money. Because the tokens have unique identities (non-fungible), they can be bought or sold while reducing the risk of fraud. So how do they work?: The series is called How Non-Fungible Tokens Work: NFTs Explained, Debunked, and Legitimized (July 30, 2021). In Part 1, he looks at the problems with making NFTs work. 1 Non-Fungible Tokens: Rat Poison Raised to an Infinite Power? “Poised to radically reconfigure the crypto-asset market, non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are revolutionizing our conception of money and value, creating not just entirely new markets but even new economies that are…

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futuristic got

How Did Descartes Come To Make Such a Mess of Dualism?

Mathematician René Descartes strictly separated mind and matter in a way that left the mind very vulnerable

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor did a recent podcast with Arjuna Das at Theology Unleashed, “where Eastern theology meets Western skepticism.” In this segment, before getting into problems with René Descartes’ understanding of consciousness, they begin by talking about qualia, a topic considered “central to a proper understanding of the nature of consciousness.” For example, I run my fingers over sandpaper, smell a skunk, feel a sharp pain in my finger, seem to see bright purple, become extremely angry. In each of these cases, I am the subject of a mental state with a very distinctive subjective character. There is something it is like for me to undergo each state, some phenomenology that it has. Philosophers often use the term ‘qualia’ (singular…

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Close up of vinyl record on stack of records collection

Strong Vinyl Record Sales Show Why Going Retro Helps You Stay Rooted

In a digital age, why bother buying vinyl records, print newspapers, or a spinning top?

Originally published at Newsmax. Vinyl is very much back in vogue these days. At the height of COVID-19 last year, vinyl sales exceeded CD sales for the first time since the 1980s. And this year, the first Record Store Day of 2021 saw over 1.5 million vinyl albums sold in a week, with more sales being tallied up after the second Record Store Day drop on July 17th. While around 85% of music industry revenues now come from streaming sources, this slow and steady increased interest in vinyl is notable. While several factors affect music consumption trends, vinyl endures for two main reasons. First, the music sounds better on vinyl, and second, it’s a physical product that can be handled. The reward…