Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive November 2021

dvd drive and pda
Laptop with pendrive, sd card, CD and portable hard drive. Concept of data storage

The Physicality Of Data And The Road To Personal Data Ownership

“The Physicality Of Data And The Road To Personal Data Ownership” was originally published by Forbes, July 2, 2021. David Kruger is co-founder and VP of Strategy for Absio Corporation, and a co-inventor of Absio’s Software-defined Distributed Key Cryptography (SDKC). This article is the first in a series on the physicality of data. I’ll follow up with additional installments of this series over the next several weeks, so check back to see those as they become available. All of us tend to conflate the word “data” with the word “information.” Usually, that’s OK, but collapsing data on a computer and information into one thing rather than two separate things makes thinking accurately about data ownership difficult. Here’s why: Information is…

law book library
Law book library

US News’ Law School Rankings Are Losing Ground, Analyst Says

Big Data has enabled a number of competitive new ranking systems, says Wake Forest University prof

Recently, physics professor Jed Macosko of Wake Forest University spoke to Mind Matters News about the way access to huge troves of data (Big Data) enables a variety of university ranking systems, depending on what matters to the prospective student. This is a far cry from traditional ranking systems like US News, which assume that all agree on the ranking criteria. You’re a physics professor who co-founded a new college ranking system. How did you end up here? I was born in 1972, in Minneapolis. My dad, Chris Macosko, who had a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University, worked in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota. There were four of us kids and we grew…

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illustration of balloon flying at the end of the sky, surreal minimal concept

3.Neuroscientist: Mind Is Not Just Brain? That’s Career Limiting!

Neuropsychologist Mark Solms and neurosurgeon Michael Egnor agreed that clinical experience supports a non-materialist view but that the establishment doesn’t

Recently, distinguished South African neuropsychologist Mark Solms discussed the real state of brain research with Stonybrook neurosurgeon Michael Egnor at Theology Unleashed (October 22, 2021) In the first portion, Solms, author of The Hidden Spring (2021), began by asserting in his opening statement that “the source of consciousness in the brain is in fact in the brain stem,” not the cerebral cortex, as is almost universally assumed. Dr. Egnor then responded that his clinical experience supports the view that the mind is not merely the brain. Now, Solms talks about the reality that discussing the fact that the mind is not merely the brain can be a career-limiting move. A partial transcript, notes, and links to date follow: Next, I…

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Canadian Geese Flying in V Formation

The Intelligence Birds and Bees Naturally Have — and We Don’t

An exploration of the stunning findings in Eric Cassell's new book, "Animal Algorithms"

You’re aiming to find your childhood friend’s home in a new city. A map helps; GPS is better. Accessing all that previously-acquired mapmakers’ knowledge, employing all of that satellite, radio and computing technology, you’ll probably (although not certainly) reach your goal. Could some “dumb bird” do any better?  Way better, actually.  Baked-in Brain Power A bird born near Wales (UK) knows how to fly over 6,200 miles (10,000 km) south in the winter, following the west coastlines of Europe and Africa, then crossing the Atlantic Ocean to land in Argentina. The same bird knows how to return to its original home a few months later. She flies north along the east coasts of South and North America, then crosses the Atlantic back…

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Mount Fuji and Lake Shojiko at sunrise in Japan.

3. Does Mt Rushmore contain no more information than Mt Fuji?

That is, does intelligent intervention increase information? Is that intervention detectable by science methods?

In Define information before you talk about it, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviewed engineering prof Robert J. Marks on the way information, not matter, shapes our world (October 28, 2021). In the first portion, Egnor and Marks discussed questions like: Why do two identical snowflakes seem more meaningful than one snowflake. Then they turned to the relationship between information and creativity. Is creativity a function of more information? Or is there more to it? Now, they ask, does human intervention make any difference? Does Mount Rushmore have no more information than Mount Fuji? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/3efb31b8-8406-43fb-a8f9-66a0b635215d-Mind-Matters-Episode-158-Robert-Marks-Egnor-Guest-Host-Information-Bingecast-rev1.mp3 This portion begins at 24:22 min. A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Michael Egnor: Dr. Jeffrey Shallit, a mathematician at the University…

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Boston Dynamics’ Famous Robot Dog Being Put to Work

Long stalled in the area of research and development, "Spot" is now being prepared for its first job

Boston Dynamics is a robotics innovation company that has been best known for “converting capital into viral YouTube videos.” Their first sensation was over a decade ago, when they released the legendary breakthrough “Big Dog” robot video. What was unique about the robot dog was its ability to traverse a diverse array of terrain. Additionally, as can be seen in the video, it even handled sudden impacts well. Boston Dynamics continued to develop these multi-terrain walkers, coming up with a more humanoid design with “Pet Man.” While Boston Dynamics’ robots have long been an area of research and development, they have recently been put to work. The current incarnation, known as “Spot,” is currently being outfitted for doing what it…

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Cyborg hand holding a  Medical icon and connection 3d rendering

How Does AI Change My Healthcare?

And what if my most important problem is NOT medical?

What is AI doing to me? That is a good question to contemplate. I want to focus on healthcare: How is my healthcare impacted by AI? In ways that are both obvious and obtuse, AI is changing healthcare. As it changes healthcare, AI is changing us! All of our lives are increasingly quantified. We have devices to count our steps, monitor our pulse and even track how much water we drink. During my last visit, my dentist recommended that I get an Oral-B iO Electric Toothbrush. He was pretty enthusiastic about it and so I got one. This toothbrush not only has a Bluetooth connection to an app you can download onto your phone, but it uses artificial intelligence! Wow!…

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Happy beautiful twins girls point up isolated on blue background, two sisters showing something above their heads , advertisement, place for text, body language

Why Physicalism Is Failing as the Accepted Approach to Science

The argument that everything in nature can be reduced to physics was killed by the philosophical Zombie, as Prudence Louise explains
At Medium, Prudence Louise, a writer on philosophy and religion, explains that in 1994 philosopher David Chalmers killed the Zombie in cold blood, igniting “a zombie apocalypse.” Sounds like an unusual role for a philosopher. And the Zombie?: “The philosophical notion of a “zombie” basically refers to conceivable creatures which are physically indistinguishable from us but lack consciousness entirely (Chalmers 1996)” — Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Louise asks us to picture that: Imagine you meet your doppelganger. Someone physically identical to you, atom for atom. The only difference is the doppelganger has no inner consciousness. They look happy or sad, they even tell you of their hopes and dreams. But there is nothing more than physical processes moving in response to physical causes. Their lips move and sounds which are meaningful to you come out, but they experience nothing at all. From the outside you are identical. But from the inside the zombie is a hollow imitation. That is a philosophical zombie. The physical structure, functions and behavior are identical, but there is no consciousness. What exactly is the missing ingredient? Prudence Louise, “The Impossibly Hard Problem of Consciousness” at Medium (October 30, 3021) The zombie could, in principle, exist. At the same time, we all know we are not zombies in the sense that we know we are conscious more certainly than we know anything else. And if consciousness is an illusion, well, whose illusion is it? As Louise goes on to show, for a physicalist (a person who believes that everything is physical), the zombie is an “explanatory nightmare.” It forces us to sense that there is something besides the physical. Although we can explain more and more about the human body in terms of structure and function, there is no good science-based theory of consciousness on the horizon. And if we can explain everything about a human being except consciousness, well, we haven’t explained, say, the difference between Jane and Zombie-Jane, which humans generally agree is important. As Louise explains in her short article, “The stakes are high. If there can’t be a scientific explanation of conscious experience, this shows physicalism is false.” One problem is that science explains third-person phenomena but consciousness is a first-person phenomenon. She then goes into much more careful logical and philosophical detail but here’s the gist: When you move your body to the fridge in response to a desire for a snack, or take medication in response to pain, or lock the doors due to a fear of burglars, there is no causal connection between those conscious states and the physical effects of your body moving. This view isn’t fatal to the physicalist theory, but it puts it on critical life support. Our mental states cause actions which move matter constantly, giving us a lot of evidence it’s true. Any arguments those powers are illusory will need to be stronger than our confidence our conscious states cause our bodies to move. Prudence Louise, “The Impossibly Hard Problem of Consciousness” at Medium (October 30, 3021) Physicalism took root in a mechanistic view of the universe, pioneered by Isaac Newton. And before the Zombie even showed up, that view was already being challenged by quantum mechanics, in which the conscious observer plays a key role in what happens. But, for scientists, physicalism is not the only game in town: Alternative metaphysics, like idealism, substance dualism or panpsychism all avoid the hard problem by denying causal closure. They accept the observation that consciousness is non-physical, and it’s causally effective, which means causal closure must be false. Unlike the observations of consciousness and its causal powers, causal closure isn’t based on observations of the world. It’s a metaphysical commitment. Physicalism is confronting a problem created by its philosophical commitments being in conflict with our observations of the world. Prudence Louise, “The Impossibly Hard Problem of Consciousness” at Medium (October 30, 3021) Of the three alternatives Louise lists, panpsychism seems to the one many scientists are gravitating to. Instead of “nothing is conscious,” many now think everything is conscious. Just recently, prominent biochemist James Shapiro titled a paper “All living cells are cognitive.” And prominent neuroscientist Antonio Damasio offered that viruses have some type of intelligence. Other well-known science achievers argue that electrons have a rudimentary mind. In response to criticism from physicists Sabine Hossenfelder and Sean Carroll, philosopher Philip Goff points out that panpsychism is not in conflict with physics. It offers a simpler view of physics than dualism, with fewer gaps than materialism (including physicalism). Essentially, panpsychism offers a way for scientists to address human consciousness, as currently understood, without explaining it away as an illusion. It would allow them to say that if Zombie-Jane existed, she would be missing something critical that Jane has (and so does everything else, to at least some extent). Whether that benefit makes panpsychism a better explanation of reality than idealism or dualism is a separate question. Each of these points of view has its own issues but the Zombie isn’t one of them. You may also wish to read: Theoretical physicist slams panpsychism Electrons cannot be conscious Sabine Hossenfelder’s view because they cannot change their behavior. Hossenfelder’s impatience is understandable but she underestimates the seriousness of the problem serious thinkers about consciousness confront. There is a reason that some scientists believe that the universe is conscious: It would be more logically coherent to say that you think the universe is conscious than to say that your own consciousness is an illusion. With the first idea, you may be wrong. With the second idea, you are not anything. Read More ›
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Creative background, the human brain on a blue background, the hemisphere is responsible for logic, and responsible for creativity. of different hemispheres of the brain, 3D illustration, 3D render

2. Neurosurgeon and Neuropsychologist Agree: Brain Is Not Mind

Michael Egnor tells Mark Solms: Neuroscience didn’t help him understand people; quite the reverse, he had to understand people, and minds, to make sense of neuroscience

Recently, distinguished South African neuropsychologist Mark Solms discussed the real state of brain research with Stony brook neurosurgeon Michael Egnor at Theology Unleashed (October 22, 2021). In the first portion, Solms, author of The Hidden Spring (2021), proposed in his opening statement that “the source of consciousness in the brain is in fact in the brain stem,” not the cerebral cortex, as is almost universally assumed. Dr. Egnor now responds that his clinical experience supports that view — and also the view that the mind is not simply “what the brain does” as some popular neuroscientists claim: A partial transcript, notes, and links to date follow: Arjuna [host]: And now, Michael, could you give a brief explanation of your views?…

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Time travel machine. Surreal steampunk technology

Can a Man Go Back and Fix His Past? — Sci-Fi Saturday

It turns out that the old man calling from 2120 doesn’t just want to give his younger self advice; he wants to change the past to prevent tragedy

“Hey, it’s me” (2020) at DUST by Mark Sposato & Courtney Sposato (October 11, 2021), 11:11 min. A selfish man tries to alter his destiny when he receives an ominous phone call from his future self. Review: Year 2120 and a sick and unhappy old man (Cedric Cannon) wants to go back and talk to his past self (RJ Brown). The past self, in 2030, is young and swinging and already has the neon telephone that can do that — as he shows his “date.” And then the phone rings and it’s his old man. That is, himself as a sick old man (120 years old)… And he has only seven minutes with him. No more spoilers. The story revolves…

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Extraterrestrial aliens spaceship fly above small town, ufo with blue spotlights in dark stormy sky.

Elon Musk Keeps Buzz About Extraterrestrials in the News

He has said that we may be ET’s sims. Then this year he created an uproar by doubting UFOs — and another one months later by implying that they do exist. Huh?

Self-driving car and private space travel entrepreneur Elon Musk has been all over the map recently as far as ET is concerned. He has claimed that our universe may have been simulated by extraterrestrials. He has hinted that he himself is an extraterrestrial. Earlier this year, he apparently reversed course and identified (on Twitter) the strongest argument for the idea that ET doesn’t even exist: ‘Strongest argument against aliens,’ Musk tweeted, along with two charts that shows camera resolution has advanced, but UFO pictures have remained the same. The post concludes that extraterrestrials do not exist, due to most images showing floating blobs, but many of the comments argue otherwise. One user responded with ‘that’s exactly what an alien would…

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Man and woman playing game using virtual reality headset and gamepads in the dark room of the playing club

In a Futurist Game, Inmost Thoughts Are Real — Sci-fi Saturday

When a family plays the game, long-simmering hostilities surface as acts

“My House” (2020) at DUST by Alexander Edep (Oct 25, 2021, 9:53 min) A family game night turns ugly when a protective mother, desperate to keep her turn in the game a secret, is forced to commit a heinous act that holds a troubling, family-shattering secret. Review: Don’t watch this one to relax. It features a futurist game played by members of a family (a couple with a teenage boy and girl). In it, just about any family circumstance can be simulated — and is. The telling touch is that the event that is simulated is just what one could see happening, apart from law, religion, civilization, and, inevitably — what the neighbors would think? The game feels like unconscious…

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The alien is studying the data set about the man.

Astronomer: ET Is More Likely To Be AI Than To Be a Life Form

Royal astronomer Lord Martin Rees explains that, apart from other issues, AI would last much longer in the hostile galactic environment

Prominent British Royal Society astronomer Lord Martin Rees thinks that ET will turn out to be AI: Human technological civilisation only dates back millennia (at most) – and it may be only one or two more centuries before humans, made up of organic materials such as carbon, are overtaken or transcended by inorganic intelligence, such as AI. Computer processing power is already increasing exponentially, meaning AI in the future may be able to use vastly more data than it does today. It seems to follow that it could then get exponentially smarter, surpassing human general intelligence. Perhaps a starting point would be to enhance ourselves with genetic modification in combination with technology – creating cyborgs with partly organic and partly…

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3d illustration human body brain

Consciousness: Is It in the Cerebral Cortex — or the Brain Stem?

In a recent discussion/debate with neurosurgeon Michael Egnor, neuropsychologist Mark Solms offers an unconventional but evidence-based view, favoring the brain stem

In September, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor debated atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty at Theology Unleashed, on the existence of God. This time out (October 22, 2021), he is teamed with distinguished South African neuropsychologist Mark Solms, author of The Hidden Spring (2021) — who begins by declaring, in his opening statement, “the source of consciousness in the brain is in fact in the brain stem,” not the cerebral cortex, as almost universally assumed. He explains his reasoning with evidence. Egnor doesn’t dispute that statement; in fact, in his own opening statement later, he reinforces it with observations from his own practice. To learn more, read on. A partial transcript, notes, and links to date follow the video link: Arjuna [host]: Hello, and…

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BIG letters inside a London store

Does Creativity Just Mean Bigger Data? Or Something Else?

Michael Egnor and Robert J. Marks look at claims that artificial intelligence can somehow be taught to be creative

In Define information before you talk about it, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviewed engineering prof Robert J. Marks on the way information, not matter, shapes our world (October 28, 2021). In the first portion, Egnor and Marks discussed questions like: Why do two identical snowflakes seem more meaningful than one snowflake? Now they turn to the relationship between information and creativity. Is creativity a function of more information? Or is there more to it? This portion begins at 10:46 min. A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Michael Egnor: How does biological information differ from information in nonliving things? Robert J. Marks: I don’t know if it does… I do believe after recent study that the mind…

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Female humpback whale with calf

Can AI Help Us Talk to Whales? Maybe. But Then What?

In the real world, if we succeed in communicating with whales, it will be much like communicating successfully with dogs, cats, and horses. None of them are furry people.

A recent article in the Smithsonian Magazine holds out the hope that AI can help enable us to talk with whales: The clicks of sperm whales are ideal candidates for attempting to decode their meanings—not just because, unlike continuous sounds that other whale species produce, they are easy to translate into ones and zeros. The animals dive down into the deepest ocean depths and communicate over great distances, so they cannot use body language and facial expressions, which are important means of communication for other animals. “It is realistic to assume that whale communication is primarily acoustic,” says Bronstein. Sperm whales have the largest brains in the animal kingdom, six times the size of ours. When two of these animals…

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fragment of snow texture Snowflakes close-up. crystal clear ice. macro photo. winter. shallow depth of field. Christmas background for layout. christmas theme.

How Information Becomes Everything, Including Life

Without the information that holds us together, we would just be dust floating around the room

In Define information before you talk about it, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviewed engineering prof Robert J. Marks on the way information, not matter, shapes our world (October 28, 2021). In the first portion, Egnor and Marks discuss questions like: Why do two identical snowflakes seem more meaningful than one snowflake? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/3efb31b8-8406-43fb-a8f9-66a0b635215d-Mind-Matters-Episode-158-Robert-Marks-Egnor-Guest-Host-Information-Bingecast-rev1.mp3 This portion begins at 01:02 min. A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Michael Egnor: I know that information is a topic that you have a strong professional interest and a great deal of professional expertise. Probably the best way to start is to ask what is information? Robert J. Marks: It turns out that before talking about information, you really have to define it.…

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Machine learning systems and accurate facial recognition concept , smart phone with blue screen and blur human faces background

Facebook (Meta) is strengthening, not dumping facial recognition

They’re getting rid of the annoying parts but read the fine print

Jerome Pesenti, Facebook’s VP of Artificial Intelligence, explains the changes to the face recognition system that have accompanied the very recent brand name change from Facebook to Meta: In the coming weeks, Meta will shut down the Face Recognition system on Facebook as part of a company-wide move to limit the use of facial recognition in our products. As part of this change, people who have opted in to our Face Recognition setting will no longer be automatically recognized in photos and videos, and we will delete the facial recognition template used to identify them. This change will represent one of the largest shifts in facial recognition usage in the technology’s history. Jerome Pesenti, “An Update On Our Use of…

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3D medical background with virus cells

Neuroscientist: Even Viruses Are Intelligent

Antonio Damasio says, in the excerpt from his new book, that — based on the evidence — we cannot deny viruses “some fraction” of intelligence

University of Chicago biochemist James Shapiro’s just-published paper concludes that bacteria, based on their behavior, are cognitive, which means that they are aware in some sense, perhaps some would say, intelligent. What about viruses? Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio says, in an excerpt from his recent book, Feeling & Knowing, that we can also credit some sort of intelligence to viruses: Viruses cannot reproduce on their own, but they can invade living organisms, hijack their life systems, and multiply. In brief, they are not living but can become parasitic of the living and make a “pseudo” living while, in most instances, destroying the life that allows them to continue their ambiguous existence and promoting the manufacture and dissemination of “their” nucleic acids.…

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bacteria

University of Chicago Biochemist: All Living Cells Are Cognitive

James Shapiro’s recent paper points out, with examples, that bacteria meet the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of “cognitive”

University of Chicago biochemist and evolutionary biologist James Shapiro has a message that those who believe that consciousness is an illusion (as, for example, philosopher Daniel Dennett claims) should heed: If all living things are “cognitive” then, to what extent would life itself have to be an illusion? Something’s wrong there. Let’s follow the thread of what Shapiro is saying. He takes a simple approach: If bacteria and archaea, thought to be the oldest, simplest life forms from at least 2 billion years ago, can be shown to have cognitive processes, then it stands to reason that most (if not all) of the more complex life forms have them too: All living cells sense and respond to changes in external…