Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive October 2021

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Black hole illustration

13. Egnor vs. Dillahunty: Are Singularities a Part of Science?

Also, an audience member asks the debaters: Does atheism make better predictions than theism?

In the “Does God exist?” debate at Theology Unleashed between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), we now look at questions from the audience on whether singularities are really a part of science and whether atheism is really a belief system that can make predictions. Readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were all unfalsifiable. When, in Section 4, it was Egnor’s turn to rebut…

Group of people holding hands praying worship believe

Compassion and Religion: Darwin’s Unscratchable Itches

If one’s research is in a hole as deep as evolutionary psychology is when accounting for compassion, why not stop digging?

Last Sunday, I pointed to a chapter I wrote in The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith: Exploring the Ultimate Questions About Life and the Cosmos (2021) on evolutionary psychology, best understood as the psychology we have derived from our not-quite-human ancestors. “Not-quite-human ancestors”? Well, if you believe in conventional evolution theory at all, you must suppose that we have not-quite-human ancestors. Thus, to understand the origin of traits like giving to the Heart & Stroke Fund or subscribing to popular science magazines, we must get back to a point before any such institutions could have existed but there was some sort of dim potential. But we can’t really do that because, as noted last Sunday, there is no such…

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robot ai artificial intelligence is learning creativity

AI Tries Creativity! … by Kidnapping Newborns — Sci-fi Saturday

But the AIs seeking world dominance kidnap the wrong child

“The Shift” (2021) at DUST by Johan Samuelsson (July 8, 2021, 7:10 min) Many years ago tech giants lost control of AI robotic technology. By kidnapping and monitoring newborns, the Ai robots are now trying to master the one thing they have yet to understand – Creativity. The Shift is about creativity, and the things that separate humans from robots. The idea for “The Shift” grew from the development of new Artificial Intelligence (AI) focused technology that simplify, and replace humans tasks and jobs. As a motion designer I experience this constantly in updated softwares, and countless of plug-ins that simplify daily tasks. For example some crafts that took several hours to complete by hand a couple of years ago,…

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double moon above Crater Landscape on alien Planet.

Would ET Intelligences Understand the 1974 Arecibo Message?

Probably not, says astrobiologist Dirke Schulz-Makuch, who raises the question of whether we could ever really communicate with extraterrestrial intelligences

In early, easily-mocked sci fi, a little green man points his raygun at an unsuspecting passerby and barks “Take me to your leader.” Fast forward: If the little green man didn’t have the technology to figure out who the leader was before landing, he certainly wouldn’t have the technology to get here. In any real-world scenario, we must assume that extraterrestrial intelligences are doing common sense logical things that we would do: Check Earth’s inhabitants out first by monitoring our communications. Some analysts have pointed out that there are places they could even hide technology in our solar system (Lagrange points, for example) with much less chance of being noticed. But then the question is, what to say to them?…

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Time flies

A Man in Dire Need Contacts His Unborn Grandson — Sci-Fi Saturday

The grandson “gets the mail” and sends back something from the future, via a mysterious mailbox, that gives the felons a considerable surprise

“Mailbox” at DUST by Louis Yin (October 15, 2021, 17:00 min) An American Chinese immigrant makes contact with his grandson in the future via a mailbox. Together they have to deal with their mutual enemies. Review: Based on Yanan Wang’s short story, “The Post man,” the story begins in New York City in 1946, where Chinese immigrants are oppressed by a criminal landlord. The gritty, authentically period tale begins to revolve around an old mailbox that turns out not to be time bound. Not a spoiler: Bo (William Yuekun Wu) can mail things to the future. His grandson (whose life appears to have only somewhat improved by being two generations on… ) can, however, help by mailing back stuff from…

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Extrasolar planet with atmosphere and moon

Harvard Astronomer: Advanced Aliens Engineered the Big Bang

Avi Loeb writes in Scientific American that when we humans are sufficiently advanced, we will create other universes as well

At Scientific American, Avi Loeb, the longest-serving chair of astronomy at Harvard (2011–2020), tackles the question of what came before the Big Bang. He surveys the conventional explanations for this singularity in time and space (when all points are zero) and comes to a somewhat surprising conclusion: Creation by an alien intelligence is the best way to account for our universe: Now there are a variety of conjectures in the scientific literature for our cosmic origins, including the ideas that our universe emerged from a vacuum fluctuation, or that it is cyclic with repeated periods of contraction and expansion, or that it was selected by the anthropic principle out of the string theory landscape of the multiverse—where, as the MIT…

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Abstract tech background 3D illustration. Quantum computer architecture. Futuristic technologies in global communication network

Seth Lloyd Will Take Us Into the Quantum Realm at COSM 2021

Dr. Lloyd, an MIT physicist, will tackle "Quantum Computing: Does it Change Everything, or Anything?"

Quantum physics has captured the imagination of culture, despite the fact that it upends everyday physics. Take, for instance, Marvel’s Ant Man (2015), whose creators consulted with physicists in their seemingly-absurd application of quantum physics to a fictional superhero universe. Quantum science will be one of the many topics explored at COSM 2021 this November. To aid in that exploration, physicist Seth Lloyd will be joining to discuss, “Quantum Computing: Does it Change Everything, or Anything?” Dr. Lloyd earned his Ph.D. from Rockefeller University, and is currently a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. His research interests lie in quantum information and control theory. He has authored and co-authored over 200 scientific publications, and is the author of Programming the…

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Blockchain , cryptocurrencies , bitcoin and distributed ledger technology concept..Block chain , network connect icons and earth furnished by NASA.

Is Bitcoin Just a Flash in the Pan? Peter Thiel Responds

He reveals that PayPal started out as a libertarian project to free money from central control but that proved harder than anticipated

In this fourth and final episode based on his talk at COSM 2019, Peter Thiel — who founded PayPal in part to help break up currency monopolies — offers some thoughts on cryptocurrencies’ future. In the earlier episodes of his discussion at COSM 1919 with philosopher of technology George Gilder, top venture capitalist Peter Thiel offered Three Contrarian Ideas: 1.Big Tech, as it operates today, is communist. 2. Big Tech is also slowing down. And 3. Learning today has almost nothing to do with the so-called educational system. Now, about the future of cryptos: This portion begins at 27:21 min. A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. George Gilder: Peter, you started PayPal, in part to…

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Illustration of synapse and neuron on a blue background.

Brain Cells Can Mislead Each Other, Cause Mental Disorders

Neuroscientists: When cells talk to each other, due to faulty signals given to proteins, they don’t always say the right things

Recent research in how brain cells talk to one another may help treat anxiety and addiction disorders, as well as dementias. Brain cells talk to each other through synapses, where molecules whose chemistry is interpreted as information are released and travel to the next cell: When people learn or remember things, this signalling is strengthened. When communication between synapses goes wrong, circuits become broken. As more circuits are lost, this changes how people can think and perform everyday tasks. This is seen in cognitive disorders, such as forms of dementia and some mental health conditions. University of Nottingham, “Scientists gain new understanding of how brain cells talk – which could help in the treatment of mental health conditions and memory…

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Old-fashioned Telephones Mounted On Wall

COSM: The Trek From Phone to Smart Phone: What Have We Learned?

Daniel Berninger, a pioneer and activist in VOIP communications, shares his insights about keeping the internet free and accessible

Daniel Berninger, an activist in the transition from plain old telephone service (POTS) to the online world of the cell phone (“disruptive communications”), will be speaking at COSM 2021. He has been involved in VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) since 1995, starting with the original assessment of VoIP at Bell Laboratories and was a founder of the VON Coalition, “keeping IP communications free from government regulation.” He is a frequently cited resource on regulatory, antitrust, and VoIP issues (for example, in Business Week, WSJ, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Bloomberg, Forbes, Associated Press, Dow Jones, Info World and the trade press). He is also a founder of VCXC (Voice Communication Exchange Committee). His interests and approach: ➤ the decline of the…

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Cute white English Bulldog puppy in a graduation cap

Tested!: Are the Least Expert People the Most Confident? No.

The claimed Dunning–Kruger effect in psychology is a very shakeable truth frequently exploited by online social bullies

Have you ever been in an online discussion where a vocal proponent confidently claimed that his opponent was the victim of the dreaded “Dunning–Kruger” effect? At Vox, Brian Resnick explains, “That’s where people of low ability — let’s say, those who fail to answer logic puzzles correctly — tend to unduly overestimate their abilities”: An obvious example people have been using lately to describe the Dunning-Kruger effect is President Donald Trump, whose confidence and bluster never wavers, despite his weak interest in and understanding of policy matters. But you don’t need to look to Trump to find an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect. You don’t even need to look at cable news. Brian Resnick, “An expert on human blind spots…

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Empty cinema hall with red seats. Movie theatre

Ari Emanuel, COSM 2021: Movie Nite’s Changed; It’s Not Just COVID

How are both streaming services and the global pandemic changing the way we watch movies?

The movie-going experience was already changing before the COVID-19 shutdowns of 2020, due to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. But the global pandemic may be changing how we watch movies forever. “The pandemic has changed everything, and that will be reflected on screen,” writes HuffPost. Headlines have roundly been indicating the same. From Quartz: “Coronavirus is pushing an already vulnerable film industry closer to the edge.” From FEE: “To Survive COVID-19, Movie Theaters Will Have to Change.” What will that change look like? Hollywood maven Ari Emanuel will be at COSM 2021 this November to explore that question. Emanuel is a businessman and super-agent (having represented names like Oprah Winfrey, Martin Scorsese, and even Donald Trump). He is the CEO…

.Businessman holding tablet and management group of people in his hand. Virtual icon of social network. Business technology concept.

Asilomar AI Principles: Ethics to Guide a Top-Down Control Regime

Experts agree on a humanistic AI ethics program! Before we break out the champagne, let's ask some serious questions about their assumptions.

Get 1,200 artificial intelligence (AI) researchers and 2,500 other businesspeople and academics, such as Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, Ray Kurzweil, and David Chalmers, to all endorse one document about AI ethics. Voila! You have the Asilomar AI Principles with serious sound bite power: Experts agree on a humanistic AI ethics program! Do the Principles advance a worthy cause? To a certain extent, perhaps, in theory. Reading the text of the Asilomar Principles, however, you get a few vague ethical aspirations offered to guide a top-down control regime. Surveying the Principles’ 23 points, a few stand out as smooth, velvet glove power-grabbers. The points do it subtly, so as the holographic Dr. Lanning advised in I, Robot (2004), “you have to ask the right questions.”  At least one useful thing a 30-year litigation…

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Businessman in blue shirt is holding a magnifying

Top Venture Capitalist on Tackling the Big, Corrupt Universities

Peter Thiel: Online education is great for learning, but unfortunately, learning has almost nothing to do with the so-called educational system

In this third episode — on Peter Thiel’s Third Contrarian Idea — philosopher of technology George Gilder revisits world class tech venture capitalist Peter Thiel’s live streamed talk at COSM 2019 in “ The failures and self-hatred of Big Tech.” In the first episode, Thiel noted that the way Big Tech operates today has more in common with a communist state than with a democracy. So his First Contrarian Idea, set out there, is that decentralization is coming. In the second episode, he talked about his Second Contrarian Idea: If you look at the big picture over the past few years, Big Tech’s progress is slowing. That’s not the hype we hear but then Thiel didn’t make nearly $4 billion…

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Topographic map MRI of the human brain.

What Can Mapping the Whole Brain Tell Us About Ourselves?

Researchers attempting to map the brain must contend with massive complexity at every level, as a report in Nature shows

The worm and fly brains have been mapped. The mouse brain has, in part, been mapped. But the human brain offers the real challenge for the researchers working around the clock. Our brains are not just more complex; they are more complex on a number of dimensions: To truly understand how the brain works, neuroscientists also need to know how each of the roughly 1,000 types of cell thought to exist in the brain speak to each other in their different electrical dialects. With that kind of complete, finely contoured map, they could really begin to explain the networks that drive how we think and behave. Alison Abbott, “How the world’s biggest brain maps could transform neuroscience” at Nature (October…

Planet Earth from Space People's Republic of China highlighted, elements of this image courtesy of NASA

LinkedIn Says Goodbye to China

If the blasé business world of LinkedIn cannot pass the Cyberspace Administration of China’s rules, then what platform can?

LinkedIn announced that it will no longer host social media and content sharing in China. Instead, it’s China-only app will be a job-board site. This comes after LinkedIn received criticism for blocking certain researcher profiles in China as well as human rights advocates and journalists who write on China. LinkedIn, which was bought by Microsoft in 2016, was one of the only U.S.-based social media outlets still operating within China. Twitter, Facebook (including Instagram, WhatsApp), and YouTube (owned by Alphabet, Inc.) are banned. Google (also owned by Alphabet, Inc.) left in 2010. Signal and Clubhouse were banned in 2021. Other apps, such as TikTok (owned by ByteDance, Inc.) have their own Chinese version that complies with censors and data regulators.…

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Big data analytics through machine learning, Artificial Intelligence concept background, Using deep learning algorithms for neural network data analysis, Abstract AI 3d illustration

Researchers: Is the Cost of Improving Deep Learning Sustainable?

At IEEE: System designers may have to go back to relying on experts again to tell them what matters, rather than on massive databases

Deep Learning is an approach to computer programming that attempts to mimic the human brain (artificial neural networks) so as to enable systems to cluster data and make accurate predictions (IBM). It’s the dominant AI system today, used to predict how proteins fold and analyse medical scans as well as to beat humans at Go. And yet, four Deep Learning researchers recently wrote in IEEE Spectrum that “The cost of improvement is becoming unsustainable.” As part of their special report, “The Great AI Reckoning,”they explain: While deep learning’s rise may have been meteoric, its future may be bumpy. Like Rosenblatt before them, today’s deep-learning researchers are nearing the frontier of what their tools can achieve. To understand why this will…

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Datenverkehr im Internet im Schneckentempo

Peter Thiel Says, Forget the Hype: Big Tech Is Slowing Down

Second Contrarian Idea: We can see the slowdown clearly if we look past the hype

Philosopher of technology George Gilder revisits world class tech venture capitalist Peter Thiel’s live streamed talk at COSM 2019 in “ The failures and self-hatred of Big Tech.” Ih the first part, Thiel noted that the way Big Tech operates today has more in common with a communist state than with a democracy. His First Contrarian Idea, set out there, is that decentralization is coming. In this part, he talks about his Second Contrarian Idea: If you look at the big picture over the past few years, Big Tech’s progress is slowing. Thiel, the author of Zero to One (2014) will attend COSM 2021 (November 10–12) in person this time, along with Gilder. Note: You can get the best rate…

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A Young Man Reading The Bible To Another Young Man In Jail

12. Egnor vs. Dillahunty: How Can God Be Both Just and Merciful?

After atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty explains his view of morality, an audience member asks neurosurgeon Michael Egnor to explain how a just God can show mercy

In the “Does God exist?” debate at Theology Unleashed between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), we are looking at the nature of good, as well as the problem of evil. Now, as the questions continue, Matt Dillahunty defends his view of the foundations of morality and Michael Egnor explains how justice and mercy can be combined. Readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were…

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Group young people using mobile smartphone outdoor - Millennial generation having fun with new trends social media apps - Youth technology addicted - Red background

Are We Really Luddites Just for Logging Off?

We can be wiser about boundaries for technology

(This piece is reprinted with permission from the Houston Chronicle, October 7, 2021.) Have you ever been called a Luddite? If so, you were probably not being credited with fueling a skilled labor movement in 19th century England. You were being jabbed for your relationship to technology. Today, the term is largely pejorative and can be directed at anyone who questions, rejects or even fumbles with technology. If you resist a new technology in favor of an old one, you’re a Luddite. If the recent testimony from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen persuaded you to quit social media, you’re a Luddite. If you don’t know how to use a newer technology efficiently, you’re a Luddite. You’re swimming upstream down the river…