Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive August 2021

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Crowd of people walking street wearing masks

Why did the New York Times Discredit the Lab Leak Theory?

The Times led the way in zealously discrediting the quite reasonable COVID-19 lab leak theory. But what underlay its zeal?

Ashley Rindsberg, author of The Gray Lady Winked (2021), offers an eye-opening look at the close links between the New York Times and Chinese propaganda media. It may have been these relationships that caused the Times to go to considerable trouble to discredit the “lab leak” theory on the origin of COVID-19. It remains a viable theory despite powerful attempts by the Chinese Communist Party to discredit it. (For background, see “Lab leak theory vindicated: What that means for fighting COVID-19.”) Sound like tinfoil to you? Then consider this: In the opening months of the pandemic, the lab leak hypothesis was actively discredited by the media and scientific establishment, with anyone associated with it smeared as “racist”. The question we…

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Religion conflicts global issue

Religion Is Far Too Complex to Have a Single Evolution Story

Casey Luskin reflects on Yuval Noah Harari’s thesis that religion evolved through stages because humans needed it in order to co-operate in larger groups

In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2015), historian Yuval Noah Harari recounts a familiar sort of tale about the origin of religion. Casey Luskin, who has been reviewing the book, explains, Yuval Noah Harari tells the standard evolutionary story. According to this story, religion began as a form of animism among small bands of hunters and gatherers and then proceeded to polytheism and finally monotheism as group size grew with the first agricultural civilizations. At each stage, he argues, religion evolved in order to provide the glue that gave the group the cohesive unity it needed (at its given size) to cooperate and survive. Casey Luskin, “Reviewing Sapiens: Getting the Origin of Religion Backwards” at Evolution News and Science…

Stethoscope on computer with test results in Doctor consulting room background and report chart for medical costs in modern hospital on Laptop desk. Healthcare costs business and fees concept.

An Epic Failure: Overstated AI Claims in Medicine

Independent investigations are finding that AI algorithms used in hospitals are not all they claim to be

Epic Systems, America’s largest electronic health records company, maintains medical information for 180 million U.S. patients (56% of the population). Using the slogan, “with the patient at the heart,” it has a portfolio of 20 proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms designed to identify different illnesses and predict the length of hospital stays. As with many proprietary algorithms in medicine and elsewhere, users have no way of knowing whether Epic’s programs are reliable or just another marketing ploy. The details inside the black boxes are secret and independent tests are scarce. One of the most important Epic algorithms is for predicting sepsis, the leading cause of death in hospitals. Sepsis occurs when the human body overreacts to an infection and sends chemicals into the…

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shamanic girl with frame drum on abstract structured space background.

A Glimpse of Sci-Fi in a World of Panpsychism — Sci-fi Saturday

Shamanism isn’t science, of course, but it makes more fictional sense in a sci-fi world where everything has a soul than one where nothing does

“The Shaman” at DUST (July 30, 2021) by Marco Kalantari (2015 at IMDB, 16:16) The dark year 2204, in a world that has seen 73 years of continuous war. Recently mankind re-discovered the arts of Shamanism. The Shaman’s school of thought believes that every person or object has a soul. During battle Shamans step over into the Netherworld to find and convert the souls of their enemies’ giant battle machines. This tactic enables a single man to overcome an invincibly seeming steel monster. This is the story of Joshua, a Shaman, who is sent on a mission to convert the soul of a giant battle colossus. He does not yet know that the soul is prepared for his coming and…