Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive September 2021

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mini robot work

Love Among the Ruins, for Robots — Sci-fi Saturday

A beautifully rendered animated short of robots looking for some place to just exist in a deserted, ruined industrial landscape

“Left Behind” at DUST by Minna Ericksson and Kateriina Kontturi at Xero Shorts (May 1, 2021, 7:14 min, animated) A lone robot walks the desolate landscape in search of a new life. It finds one in a unexpected place. Review: In a ruined, dystopian industrial landscape, a large robot (presumably laid off from a shut down enterprise) searches for a new place to be. The robot finds a cute baby robot that, duckling fashion, immediately bonds and begins to follow it around. The giant robot is none too pleased and tries, at first, to shed its unwanted companion. Then the baby robot begins to dance and… no more spoilers. This animation is not a laff riot; the climax reaches for…

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Fog in the forest

Longtime Skeptic Now Accepts Parapsychology as Science

But read the fine print. It’s a matter of determining what can be considered a science statement, whether it is proven or disproven

University of London psychology prof Chris French has a complex relationship with parapsychology (research into, for example, extrasensory perception or ESP). At one time, he believed in it, then was, for four decades, a skeptic — but he has now come round to a new approach to the question: How do we decide what is and isn’t “science”: Before we can assess the scientific status of any discipline, we must first consider what philosophers of science refer to as the demarcation problem. What criteria must be applied in order to decide whether a discipline is a true science or not? This is a fascinating topic that has been a subject of discussion amongst philosophers of science for a very long…

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Layers of Deceit Plague a High-Tech Call Center – Sci-Fi Saturday

Locked in, Jess must try to save a competitor’s life when she can only contact artificial intelligence choices that are not programmed to provide the needed assistance

“Lifeline” (2018) at DUST by Harry Jackson (At DUST September 6, 2021, 7:57 min) Jess, and her trial for a job at a high-tech call centre. When her competitor suddenly collapses, her only means to save him is a state of the art computer system. The problem is, the art is in a terrible state. Review: Jess (Gwyneth Keyworth) and Keith (Nathan Bryon) are competing for a job at the futuristic (and dominant) call center Ulternative Solutions. The iconic “room” where the company started — and they are locked into while trying out — is dusty. And Keith, it turns out, has asthma… Julia Deakin, as the witchlike supervisor, apprises the competitors of the company’s “ruthless sales ethic” “cherry picking…

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A moody science fiction concept, of a figure standing in a field with UFO lights glowing in the sky. On a foggy spooky night. With a vintage, grunge edit

The UFOs Carl Sagan Was Convinced Of But Couldn’t Talk About

Sagan had already been denied tenure at Harvard, a sci-fi screenwriter reflects, and he couldn't afford to take more chances

Sci-fi screenwriter Bryce Zabel recalls a memorable dispute with cosmologist Carl Sagan (1934–1996) in a parking lot forty years ago: The Voyager II unmanned spacecraft had been launched in August of 1977. Now, four years later, it was due to make its closest approach to Saturn on August 25, 1981. It was even going to send back photos in almost real time. I got an idea. Bryce Zabel, “Cosmic Collision: My UFO Debate with Carl Sagan” at Medium (August 24, 2021) His idea was to interview Sagan (remember the insignificant Pale Blue Dot that Earth is supposed to be?). I got to host Saturn and Beyond, and it was going to be Carl Sagan and me “live,” without commercial interruption,…

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Robot eyes closeup

Sure, AI Could Run the World — Except for Its Fundamental Limits

But many of the basic errors, problems, and limitations have no easy solution

We are told that not only will AI take our jobs but it will take our bosses’ jobs and their bosses’ jobs and pretty soon., AI will be running the world… We can see those films on Netflix any night. Science writer and science fiction author Charles Q. Choi offers, in a longish piece at the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers’ online magazine, Spectrum, talking about the real world where “Neural networks can be disastrously brittle, forgetful, and surprisingly bad at math.” AI frequently flubs and it is not clear how to make it flub less. Here are brief notes on three examples of the seven he offers: ➤“Brittle” 97% of AIs could not identify a school bus flipped…

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Chess Pieces on Board for Game and Strategy

3. Atheist Dillahunty Spots Fallacies in Christian Egnor’s Views

“My position is that it’s unacceptable to believe something if the available evidence does not support it.”

“Does God exist?”Earlier this month, Christian neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty began to debate the question at Theology Unleashed. As they briefly explain in the first episode, Egnor was an agnostic and became a Christian, based on his experiences; Dillahunty went the opposite route. In the second episode, Egnor set out his position briefly, offering ten proofs of the existence of God. Now it is Matt Dillahunty’s fifteen minutes — to spot weaknesses in Egnor’s arguments and offer his own, beginning at 20:30 min. He begins by remarking on Egnor’s speed of presentation: A partial transcript and notes follow: Matt Dillahunty: Never in the entire history of doing debates has someone come in and, in 15 minutes,…

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Printed circuit board

“Listen to the technology; find out what it’s telling you…”

That’s the motto of CalTech’s Carver Mead, who will speak at COSM 2021

A COSM 2021 speaker that tech watchers won’t want to miss is CalTech’s Carver Mead (1934–), best known in computer history for pioneering the automation, methodology and teaching of the integrated circuit design used in microprocessors and memories. According to the Lemelson–MIT Student Prize program, “Carver Mead has made many of the Information Age’s most significant advances in microcircuitry, which are essential to the internet access and global cellular phone use that many people enjoy and take for granted every day.” Mead is also honored as a teacher. Forty years at CalTech, he advised the first female electrical engineering student there, Louise Kirkbride, who went on to become a tech developer and inventor in her own right. He has helped…

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Knight chess isolated on gray background

2. A Neurosurgeon’s Ten Proofs for the Existence of God

First, how did a medic, formerly an atheist, who cuts open people’s brains for a living, come to be sure there is irrefutable proof for God?

“Does God exist?” On September 17, in a dramatic debate, Christian neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty squared off on the question at Theology Unleashed. The debate hosts are Arjuna Das for Theology Unleashed and Nathan from Digital Gnosis as the moderator. A partial transcript and notes follow. Egnor has been a guest at Theology Unleashed, before, debating materialist philosopher David Papineau. The ten proofs of God that he presents as his opening argument below are not drawn from sacred texts but from philosophical reasoning: Michael Egnor: There are, broadly speaking, two different kinds of theology. There’s natural theology and there’s revealed theology. Revealed theology is the use of scripture, personal experiences, or relationships to God. And that’s…

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Desperate woman trying to log into her computer forgot password

Forgot Your Password? Maybe You Can Forget It for Good! But Wait…

Tech companies are trying to develop workarounds for passwords via biometrics — facial recognition, fingerprints, and behavior patterns

A tech writer — maybe not the sort of person you’d expect — confesses that he is terrible with passwords. But he is hardly alone: In 2019, a survey conducted by Google and The Harris Poll found that 24% of Americans use “password,” “123456,” or some other ridiculously easy combination as the key to their online world. More than a third of people in the U.S. and Canada keep their passwords in notebooks or on Excel, according to a 2019 study from HYPR, the self-anointed “passwordless company.” And the same report detailed how 72% of people reuse their passwords in their professional and personal lives, while 49% just add or change a particular digit or character in their passwords when…

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Knowing the Enemy

Debate: Former Atheist Neurosurgeon vs. Former Christian Activist

At Theology Unleashed, each gets a chance to state his case and interrogate the other

“Does God exist?” On September 17, in a rip-roaring old-fashioned debate, Christian neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty debated the question at Theology Unleashed. We’ll cover this debate for you, including transcripts and notes. First, each participant was given a chance upfront to state where he is coming from and why. Michael Egnor, representing the Yes side, went first. How did a medic, formerly an atheist, who cuts open people’s brains for a living, come to be sure there is a God? And how did a fundamentalist Christian come to be hosting The Atheist Experience? The debate hosts are Arjuna Das for Theology Unleashed and Nathan from Digital Gnosis as the moderator. A partial transcript and notes follow.…

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creativity imagination and dreams concept.

Jules Urbach, Founder of OTOY, to Speak at COSM 2021

George Gilder has called him "ingenious" and "the most inventive software engineer" he has ever met

Dozens of brilliant minds in technology will be flocking to Bellevue, Washington this November for the exclusive national summit known as COSM. Among them will be founder and CEO of OTOY and Lightstage, Jules Urbach. Philosopher of technology George Gilder has called him “ingenious” and “the most inventive software engineer” he has ever met. Gilder holds a a 20-year investment in OTOY. What has earned Urbach such high praise? Urbach has been a bold pioneer in computer graphics from a young age. At eighteen years old, he created one of the first CD-ROM games ever created, Hell Cab. Six years later, he founded Groove Alliance, which went on to produce Real Pool, the first 3D game available on Shockwave.com. In…

Wifi and 5G digital network Concept.Smart city and communication network,LPWA (Low Power Wide Area),Wireless communication,Big data,iot(internet of thing) on Bangkok city Thailand background.

The Changing Relationship Between AI and Wireless

AI and wireless are combining to create surprising possibilities

Advanced computing techniques, often given the summary label of artificial intelligence (AI), and the latest generations of wireless protocols are combining to create new and exciting possibilities. Early generations of wireless connectivity were pursued to enable mobility and eliminate cables. From 1G’s introduction of analog voice mobile telephony, each generation of mobile communications has brought fundamentally new and different innovations. The full impact of these capabilities has typically been unappreciated. That pattern appears to be repeating itself. The potential impact of technological innovations takes time to reveal itself. It tends to surprise all but a few visionary individuals. In previous wireless generations wireless devices were typically stand-alone generators or receivers of information. Today advanced computing techniques (i.e., AI) are being…

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Soup With Letter Noodles On Spoon

Can There Be a General Theory for Fine-Tuning?

If you make a bowl of alphabet soup and the letters arrange themselves and say, good morning, that is specified. What are the probabilities?

In Episode 2, the first part, (September 9, 2021), Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer discusses fine tuning in biology with Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks the way “Life is so finely tuned that it is frightening,” Put another way, the billions of cells in our bodies are each like a city. Not as a group but each of them. No wonder we feel so sick when things are going wrong with our cells. It is like billions of dysfunctional cities… Anyway, Hössjer has been working on a general theory for fine-tuning: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-Episode-151-Hossjer-Diaz.mp3 This portion begins at 12:07 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: Ola, you came up with a general theory. We…

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children's sorter with geometric shapes on a white background selective focus

If Google Thinks For You, Use THEIR Search Engine. Otherwise…

Google’s monopoly affects the free exchange of ideas in the public square and our electoral process

For years, the internet has been dominated by the all-seeing Google. Google has been so successful in its execution and protection of its brand that we culturally understand that to “Google” something is to conduct an internet search, despite the existence of alternative search engines. Google holds a massive advantage over all other search engines. More than 88% of all web searches are conducted through Google while the second-largest web browser, Bing, claims not quite 6% of all web searches. While alternative search services have existed for years (such as DuckDuckGo, Ask, and Startpage), only two English language indexes exist – Google’s and Bing’s. Most of the familiar search “alternatives” pull from those two datasets. Alternative search engines, then, aren’t all that…

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Viking Longships Approaching at Sunset - illustration

Expert in Defense and Technology To Speak at COSM

By looking to the past, historian Arthur Herman charts a hopeful path into the future

This November, historian Arthur Herman will be addressing the use of artificial intelligence in military preparedness at COSM 2021, an exclusive national summit exploring the myriad ways in which technology is shaping the world around us. Herman received his B.A. from the University of Minnesota and his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in history and classics. Since then, he has written nine books, including New York Times bestseller How the Scots Invented the Modern World, Pulitzer Prize finalist Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry that Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age, and Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, which was named one of the Economist’s Best Books of 2012. Herman is now a senior…

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Foam cell, a macrophage cell with lipid droplets

Life Is So Wonderfully Finely Tuned That It’s Frightening

A mathematician who uses statistical methods to model the fine tuning of molecular machines and systems in cells reflects…

In Episode 2, “Life is fine-tuned in a fearful and wonderful way” (September 9, 2021), Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer discusses fine tuning in biology with Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks. It’s a bit scary to think that each of our cells is like a city because it certainly gives us some idea of all the things that can (but, thankfully, usually don’t) go wrong, Note: Episode 1 was “Run the gambit of complexity” (September 20, 2021) discussed here and here. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-Episode-151-Hossjer-Diaz.mp3 This portion begins at 01:14 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: Today we’re going to talk about fine tuning in biology. How biology is fine tuned to allow us to…

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Holograms of masks, Hackers hiding behind digital anonymous masks, fake accounts. Concept for internet crime, fraud, cyber attack, spam, electronic theft. 3D illustration, 3D render

China Manipulates Social Media to Spark Protests in the U.S.

Cybersecurity firm FireEye and Google Threat Analysis have fingered a campaign against the Hong Kong democracy movement, as well as claims that COVID started in the U.S.

Both a September report by cybersecurity firm FireEye and a threat assessment post by Google highlight the scope of China’s current global propaganda campaign. According to FireEye’s Threat Research Blog, thousands of “inauthentic accounts” — across dozens of social media platforms and websites around the world — amplify the Chinese government’s messaging. While several non-government organizations, cybersecurity firms, and media outlets have reported on the way China’s Twitter network manipulates social medial platforms, FireEye and Alphabet say the breadth and scope of the propaganda campaign is much greater than previously thought: Most reporting has highlighted English and Chinese-language activity occurring on the social media giants Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. However, we have now observed this pro-PRC activity taking place on…

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Vaccine or flu shot in injection needle. Doctor working with patient's arm. Physician or nurse giving vaccination and immunity to virus, influenza or HPV with syringe. Appointment with medical expert.

COVID-19, Bayes’ Rule, and Simpson’s paradox

Israeli data, when studied carefully, confirm the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines

Israel has a very high COVID-19 vaccination rate and yet, on August 15, 2021, 58% of those Israelis hospitalized for COVID-19 were fully vaccinated — suggesting that vaccinations are ineffective or even harmful. This is a great example of two common statistical traps. The first is confusion about inverse probabilities. One hundred doctors were once asked this hypothetical question: In a routine examination, you find a lump in a female patient’s breast. In your experience, only 1 out of 100 such lumps turn out to be malignant, but, to be safe, you order a mammogram X-ray. If the lump is malignant, there is a 0.80 probability that the mammogram will identify it as malignant; if the lump is benign, there is a 0.90 probability that…

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open eye in space

Researchers: The Universe Simulated Itself Into Existence

A recent physics journal paper proposes self-simulation as the origin of the universe, using a quantum gravity model

Yesterday, we looked at “Untitled Earth Sim 64,” a science fiction comedy based on the idea that Earth is a messed up simulation — created by entities that are in themselves simulations. And maybe their simulators were in turn simulated… And so forth. The problem is, where’s the original? Surprisingly, perhaps, there is a physics theory that offers an answer: The universe simulated itself: A new hypothesis says the universe self-simulates itself in a “strange loop”. A paper from the Quantum Gravity Research institute proposes there is an underlying panconsciousness. The work looks to unify insight from quantum mechanics with a non-materialistic perspective. How real are you? What if everything you are, everything you know, all the people in your…

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Big Bang

The Big Bang: The Beginning of All Questions About the Universe

... and the mind and all that

This offbeat “Science Uprising” film discusses the way in which the Big Bang, — the idea of a cosmic beginning — is unpopular among many philosophers of science because it sounds like an argument for the existence of God. But it is the best science explanation: You may also wish to read: The Big Bang has no natural beginning. In the debate between theistic neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and naturalist philosopher David Papineau, the question gets round to the origin of the universe itself