Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive September 2021

Exoplanets with moon

Could “Rogue Planets” Hold the Key to Extraterrestrial Life?

A new paper asks us to think about the possibilities of planets that have been kicked out of a predictable orbit.

A new paper asks us to think about the possibilities of planets that have been kicked out of a predictable orbit: In a new paper, Alberto Fairén from the Center of Astrobiology in Madrid, Spain, and I look into the possibility that planets wandering through interstellar space could also host life. These “rogue” planets may have been ejected out of their original solar system during the early, chaotic phase of planetary formation. There are two general types of rogue planets: gas giants like Saturn and Neptune, and rocky Earthlike planets. While the chances for life on gas giants is extremely remote, rocky migrating planets could in principle host microbial life. To do that, they would need internal heat from the…

Full moon on desert mountain peaks at sand storm

When the Robot Discovers Nature — Sci-Fi Saturday

On a ruined planet, a dog robot get caught in a time warp

“Genesis” (2020) at DUST May 2, 2021 Constantin Kormann(4:00 min, animated) Our protagonist lands on a foreign planet, finds an alien artifact and travels back into a time, where the planet was covered by a lush forest. Review: The “protagonist” is actually a dog robot who finds itself trapped in a time warp. The big question would, of course, be — why go back to techno-civilization, especially if you are just a dog anyway? Cute. But what happens when the battery runs out? Curiously, we think we should make robots like the animals we know. Think of Boston Dynamics’s controversial police “dogs.” Nature seems to have thought of everything first — an argument, if you like, for intelligent design. Anyway,…

Oumuamua is a mildly active comet, and the first interstellar object detected passing through the Solar System.

What Space Object ‘Oumuamua Says About How Science Works

The space object, thought by at least one famed astronomer to be an ET lightsail, prompts thoughts about how scientists decide what to believe

The subtitle of Matthew Bothwell’s wrap-up on ‘Oumuamua is most informative: An alien-made artefact or just interstellar debris? What ʻOumuamua says about how science works when data is scarce. At least one astronomer, Harvard’s Avi Loeb, insisted that ‘Oumuamua must be an “extraterrestrial light sail.” And few suggested that that couldn’t possibly be true. Right. What do we do when we are not sure? Bothwell, author of the forthcoming Invisible Universe, offers some thoughts. W all imagine ET in our own image: Victorians of the late 19th century, living in the era of ambitious engineering, looked at Mars and saw globe-spanning canals – evidence, they believed, of a grand industrial civilisation mirroring their own. In the Cold War 1960s, as…

Senior couple watering seedlings in their garden

Scarcity? We have the same resources as Neanderthal Man!

What we do with our resources is different. Economics professor Gale Pooley has spent his career lifting our spirits about the state of the world

COSM 2021 is fast approaching. On the weekend of November 10-12, titans of the tech world will descend on Bellevue, Washington, to discuss the future of technology. Topics to be covered include blockchain, NFTs, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and Big Questions like “Is Technology Soaring or Slumping?” This year, COSM will include Discovery Institute’s own Gale Pooley, senior fellow at the Center on Wealth & Poverty. This isn’t Pooley’s first round at COSM. He addressed the COSM crowd in 2019 with a talk entitled, “Killing Thanos – Defeating the Ideology of Scarcity” (video posted at the end of this article). This November, Pooley’s topic is “The End of Inflation.” The economics professor has spent his career lifting our spirits about…

Electrocardiogram in hospital surgery operating emergency room showing patient heart rate with blur team of surgeons background

Why Some Scientists Think Consciousness Persists After Death

We should not assume that pepole who are near death do not know what we are saying

A very significant change that happened in the last century or so has been the ability of science professionals to see what happens when people are thinking, especially under traumatic conditions. It was not a good moment for materialist theories. Here is one finding (there are many others): Death is a process, usually, not simply an event. Consciousness can persists after clinical death. A more accurate way of putting things might be that the brain is able to host consciousness for a short period after clinical death. Some notes on recent findings: The short answer is, probably, yes: Recent studies have shown that animals experience a surge in brain activity in the minutes after death. And people in the first…

door choice

What Do We Need To Know About Life After Capitalism?

At COSM 2021, a number of thinkers will discuss and debate the pressing questions

Recently, George Gilder and Jay Richards enjoyed a wide ranging discussion on the topics and people that will converge for the COSM 2021 Technology Summit: From Life After Google to Life After Capitalism. They cover the paradoxes of the future of technology. Here is a partial transcript of the first ten minutes: Jay Richards: The theme of COSM 2021 is Life After Capitalism, which is also the name of your forthcoming book. What does that mean exactly? What are you referring to, this idea of life after capitalism? George Gilder: In the last few months, literally trillions of dollars of new money has been printed. Money has been deprived of its informational content. It’s now merely an expression of government…

small mushrooms toadstools

Mushrooms Have Minds? Well, If You Doubt Humans Are Exceptional…

… it is a short step to thinking that mushrooms have minds. A Miami University biologist has taken that step

It’s pretty daring to claim that mushrooms have minds. But, in the light of what we have learned about plant communications, we should perhaps pause a moment to at least listen. Miami University biologist Nicholas P. Money, argues: Given the magical reputation of the fungi, claiming that they might be conscious is dangerous territory for a credentialled scientist. But in recent years, a body of remarkable experiments have shown that fungi operate as individuals, engage in decision-making, are capable of learning, and possess short-term memory. These findings highlight the spectacular sensitivity of such ‘simple’ organisms, and situate the human version of the mind within a spectrum of consciousness that might well span the entire natural world. Nicholas P. Money, “The…


Babak Parviz, Inventor of Google Glass, Returns to COSM 2021

Parviz will be addressing the question, “Is It the End for Silicon Valley?”

Last time he appeared at COSM, he contributed to a panel discussion on Information Theory of Biotech. Now, Dr. Babak Parviz is returning to COSM this November to address the question, “Is It the End for Silicon Valley?” Parviz has an impressive history that spans engineering and health care issues, but he is perhaps most famous for his leadership in developing Google Glass.  As described by the University of Michigan in 2014: Google Glass is compact, lightweight, and while resting on your nose, will guide you to your destination, allow you to have phone conversations, take photos and video, get information, and share your experiences with others in unprecedented ways. Glass is the first device that allows us to truly…

human memory loss

Our Brains Break DNA in Order to Learn More Quickly

Memory loss in old age may be easier to understand if we know more about the mechanisms our brains are using to keep key memories intact

An interesting 2015 discovery sheds some light on memory issues: The urgency to remember a dangerous experience requires the brain to make a series of potentially dangerous moves: Neurons and other brain cells snap open their DNA in numerous locations — more than previously realized, according to a new study — to provide quick access to genetic instructions for the mechanisms of memory storage. David Orenstein, “Memory-making involves extensive DNA breaking” at MIT News (July 14, 2021) The paper is open access. Jordana Cepelowicz explains an “unsettling” discovery made by Li-Huei Tsai’s team at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory: … to express learning and memory genes more quickly, brain cells snap their DNA into pieces at many key…