Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis
Walter Myers III at COSM 2021 on Silicon Valley
Photo by Ashlee Best, © Discovery Institute

Walter Bradley Center: Year in Review 2021


Mind Matters News is sponsored by the non-profit Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence at Discovery Institute. Will you help Mind Matters News continue by supporting the work of the Bradley Center with an end-of-year donation?

In a world awash with over-hyped claims (both pro and con) about artificial intelligence, the work of the Bradley Center couldn’t be more timely and important.

People know at a fundamental level that they are not machines. But faulty thinking can cause people to adopt views that in their heart of hearts they know to be untrue. The Bradley Center seeks to help individuals — and our society at large — to realize that we are not machines, while at the same time helping to put machines (especially computers and AI) in proper perspective. In place of an idolatry that would make machines our masters, the Bradley Center works for a society that will regard machines as our servants and help us to understand the best ways for machines to enhance life and human flourishing.

Directed by Baylor University professor Robert J. Marks, the Bradley Center is guided by the vision of Discovery Institute board member and entrepreneur William Dembski. The Center disseminates its work through conferences, online media, and books and articles.

Over 200 tech leaders attended the Bradley Center’s COSM 2021 technology summit in November. Designed by Discovery Institute co-founder George Gilder, the in-person summit brought together investors, business executives, and inventors to explore how artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, and many other technologies are re-shaping humanity’s future.

COSM 2021 featured an all-star cast of speakers, including Peter Thiel, co-founder of Pay Pal; Kai Fu Lee, the inventor of speech recognition; Bob Metcalfe, the inventor of ethernet; Ari Emanuel, known as the media visionary who brought Hollywood into the digital age; Gurdeep Pall, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft; and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who engaged in a lively debate with George Gilder about U.S. policy on China. In addition to Gilder, several other Discovery Institute scholars were featured at the conference as well, including mathematician and entrepreneur William Dembski, Bradley Center Director Robert J. Marks, economist Gale Pooley, and Jay Richards, author of The Human Advantage.

COSM 2021 was organized by Discovery President Steve Buri and Discovery Program Director Erik Nutley, and it received rave reviews from its attendees. In a post-conference survey, 98% of attendees said they would recommend the event to others, and two-thirds reported they were “very likely” to attend COSM 2022.

“COSM is the antidote for COVID-induced funk,” wrote one attendee. “It turns out that while the world was suffering… fantastic things have been happening on the technology, biotech, nanotech, and AI front.” Another attendee commented that the content was so overwhelming that he felt “like an eight-ounce glass into which someone just poured a gallon of water.”

COSM is unique because it isn’t afraid to feature experts with divergent views so they can engage in open discussion — and because it emphasizes humans’ unparalleled creativity, a trait that cannot be duplicated by machines. The annual conference is well on its way to becoming a “must attend” event for visionary tech leaders and investors interested in the opportunities and challenges posed by new technologies.

As the influence of COSM continued to grow in 2021, so too did the impact of the Bradley Center’s online platform, Mind Matters News. Under the leadership of veteran journalist Denyse O’Leary, the site will have published over 850 articles in 2021 and attracted nearly 2 million users. The number of users in 2021 represented a dramatic 82% increase over the previous year.

The Center’s signature Mind Matters podcast released 50+ new episodes in 2021. Overseen and hosted by Center Director Robert Marks, the podcast featured notable guests that included Erik Larson, author of Harvard University Press’s The Myth of Artificial Intelligence; Gregory Chaitin, the founder of algorithmic information theory; Angus Menuge, a Professor of Philosophy at Concordia University; and Paul Werbos, a machine learning pioneer.

Work also continued in 2021 on various book projects supported by the Center. One of them is a book by Robert Marks that will examine AI hype vs. AI reality and describe the unique capabilities of humans that can’t be replaced by AI. Marks’ book is slated for publication by the end of 2022.

If you support the Bradley’s mission to defend human uniqueness while still harnessing the benefits of “intelligent” machines for human flourishing, please donate now!

John G. West

Senior Fellow, Managing Director, and Vice President of Discovery Institute
Dr. John G. West is Vice President of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and Managing Director of the Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Formerly the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, West is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker who has written or edited 12 books, including Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, and Walt Disney and Live Action: The Disney Studio’s Live-Action Features of the 1950s and 60s. His documentary films include Fire-Maker, Revolutionary, The War on Humans, and (most recently) Human Zoos. West holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University, and he has been interviewed by media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, Reuters, Time magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.

Walter Bradley Center: Year in Review 2021