Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive February 2022

big-bang-in-space-the-birth-of-the-universe-3d-illustration-stockpack-adobe-stock
Big Bang in Space, The Birth of the Universe 3d illustration

How Easy Is It To Imagine Absolutely Nothing?

Theories around the Big Bang provide an interesting test of the concept

The Big Bang is, for most, the beginning of all science questions about the universe … and the mind and all that Many dislike the Big Bang because, while it is makes the best sense of the universe, it implies that there is a God. What are the arguments either way? Some see the Big Bang as engineered, though not by a divine Mind. Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb, argued in Scientific American last October that advanced aliens engineered the Big Bang and that, when we humans are sufficiently advanced, we will create other universes as well. Loeb’s hypothesis is not logically stranger than the many that attempt to account for the Big Bang without underlying information/intelligence. It does not appear…

Zen garden stones on sand with pattern, top view. Meditation and harmony

A Neurosurgeon and a Philosopher Debate Mind vs. Body

Philosopher Joshua Farris defends controversial Cartesian dualism. Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor critiques it but thinks it may account for near-death experiences

In “Why Cartesian Dualism,” neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviews theology professor Joshua Farris on dualism, the idea that the human being is both mind and body. That is, the mind is not simply a product of the brain, as many philosophers and scientists believe. What are the arguments for and what is the evidence for the reality of the mind? In this podcast, they talk about a specific type of dualism, Cartesian dualism — developed by French mathematician René Descartes (1596– 1650). https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/02/Mind-Matters-Episode-172-Joshua-Farris-Episode-1-rev1.mp3 A partial transcript and notes follow: Michael Egnor: The topic today is why Cartesian dualism? In this episode, we’ll discuss the merits of a theory of the mind–body relationship, in contrast to alternative viewpoints, such as materialism, hylomorphism,…

planets-and-exoplanets-of-unexplored-galaxies-sci-fi-new-worlds-to-discover-colonization-and-exploration-of-nebulae-and-galaxies-stockpack-adobe-stock
Planets and exoplanets of unexplored galaxies. Sci-Fi. New worlds to discover. Colonization and exploration of nebulae and galaxies

Astrophysicist: Stop Looking For Extraterrestrial Civilizations!

And accept that ‘Oumuamua was a natural object, though a very mysterious one

Stony Brook astrophysicist Paul Sutter, who specializes in the emptiest regions of the universe, tries to put the mystery of space object ’Oumuamua on a non-extraterrestrial footing. ‘Oumuamua, first spotted by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS1) in Hawaii on October 19, 2017 — hence the Hawaiian name — was observed for only 11 days before it left the solar system. It was cigar-shaped and not very large (it could fit inside a football field) but it was weird. It was also the first object to visit our solar system that was known to come from interstellar space: It was, from the moment of its discovery, a weird object — weird orbit, weird speed, weird properties ……

very-large-array-new-mexico-stockpack-adobe-stock
Very Large Array - New Mexico

The Drake Equation at 60 Years: The Second Most Famous Equation

After Einstein's e = mc squared. New technology is improving our ability to search the skies for signs of possible extraterrestrial civilizations

Last year marked the sixtieth year of the iconic Drake Equation, developed by astronomer Frank Drake aimed at stimulating the public to think about the prerequisites for life on other planets. Seth Shostak at Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) says it is the most famous equation after e = mc2 and offers a bit of its history: The Drake Equation was cooked up by astronomer Frank Drake in 1961 to serve as the agenda for the first meeting on the topic of SETI. In 1960, Drake had conducted a pioneering search for extraterrestrial signals – a several-week long effort he named Project Ozma. Somewhat unexpectedly, this modest experiment attracted a great deal of attention, and Drake was encouraged by J.P.T.…

concept-of-asteroid-mining-in-space-for-rare-raw-materials-stockpack-adobe-stock
Concept of asteroid mining in space for rare raw materials

Firefly Episode 2: When Captain Mal Gets a Pang of Conscience…

In the 2002 series, he decides to return stolen goods when he learns of the plight of those from whom they are stolen — with fearsome consequences

Last time, we discussed the first episode of the 2002 Firefly series because Disney is thinking about ruining it with another season. In case you were wondering, this review contains spoilers. In Episode 2, we find Captain Malcolm getting to know his passengers. The doctor’s sister River is suffering flashbacks from her time in the “labs.” Despite being a doctor, her brother Simon has no idea what’s wrong her. She keeps repeating the phrase, “Hands are blue, two by two.” After a bar brawl, the crew lands a job. It’s an old-fashioned train heist. Malcolm and Zoe, his partner in crime, land on the train and steal the goods by latching them to their ship and lifting them into the…

canada-geese-in-flight-stockpack-adobe-stock
canada geese in flight

Source of Most Animal Intelligence Still a Mystery

Eric Cassell takes questions: If life forms are born or hatched knowing this stuff, it isn’t learned. But if it’s in the genes, where is it?

Recently, geologist Casey Luskin interviewed Eric Cassell, author of Animal Algorithms: Evolution and the Mysterious Origin of Ingenious Instincts (2021) on one of the central mysteries of biology: How do animals “know” things that they can’t have figured out on their own? This is the third and final part. Here’s the first part, with transcript and notes and here’s the second. Below is the third part, the audience questions, with notes and partial transcript: Eric Cassell is an expert in navigation systems, including GPS whose experience includes more than four decades of experience in systems engineering related to aircraft, navigation and safety. He has long had an interest in animal navigation. His model for animal navigation is the natural algorithm:…

comment like share
Social media concept.

New York Senate Tries To Shut Down Misinformation on Social Media

The introduction of the bill raises concerns about government's intrusion into the freedom of speech online

In December, a bill was presented in the New York State Senate that would attempt to hold social media companies responsible for their role in circulating incitements to violence, incitements to self-harm, and misinformation.  Introduced by Democratic/Working Families Party Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan, the legislation would empower the state’s Attorney General to bring an action against any social media company that allows for the circulation of content that incites violence or that “includes a false statement of fact or fraudulent medical theory…”. No person, by conduct either unlawful in itself or unreasonable under all the circumstances, shall knowingly or recklessly create, maintain or contribute to a condition in New York state that endangers the safety or health of the public through…

bienenkreis-stockpack-adobe-stock
Bienenkreis

Can Insects Be Conscious? Let’s Look At Bees First

Consciousness does not seem to reside in the neocortex so complex behavior in bees has raised the question for biologists and philosophers alike

Honeybee scientist Andrew Barron and philosopher Colin Klein, both then at Macquarie University in Australia, argue that bees have some form of consciousness. Let’s look at what they have to say: According to an article in Smithsonian Magazine, Barron broached the question of bee consciousness with Klein, who was highly skeptical at first. But Barron pointed out that at least one key theory holds that …the core of human consciousness is not our impressive neocortex, but our much more primitive midbrain. This simple structure synthesizes sensory data into a unified, egocentric point of view that lets us navigate our world. Insects, Barron and Klein now argue, have midbrain-like structures, including a “central complex,” that seem to allow bugs to similarly…

illustration-of-synapse-and-neuron-on-a-blue-background-stockpack-adobe-stock
Illustration of synapse and neuron on a blue background.

Neuroscientists: The Hard Problem of Consciousness Isn’t So Hard!

Damasio and Seth tell Nautilus that materialist explanations will eventually crack consciousness, as they have cracked everything else

Recently, thinkmag Nautilus brought together neuroscientists Antonio Damasio and Anil Seth to argue that the “Hard Problem of Consciousness.” is not so hard after all. Antonio Damasio, author of Feeling & Knowing: Making Minds Conscious (Penguin Random House, 2021), has argued that intelligence is everywhere in life forms and that even viruses have “some fraction of” intelligence. Anil Seth is the author of Being You: A new science of consciousness (2021). He is convinced that the Hard Problem, so named by philosopher David Chalmers, is “magical thinking” and that “there is much to be done in a straightforward materialist understanding of how the brain relates to conscious experience.” For the purposes of their discussion with Kristin French, consciousness is defined…

Bunch of old used outdated mobile phones and batteries. Recycling electronics

Surveillance and Silence at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

Why are countries instructing their Olympic athletes to use burner phones?

In a previous article, I looked at the security issues with the MY2022 app, the official app for the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games, and the app that everyone who attends must download. The app has two key vulnerabilities that leave user data exposed when sending information over WiFi.* Aside from these vulnerabilities, the University of Toronto-based Citizen Lab found a list of censored keywords in the app’s code, as well as the capability to report someone who has sent politically contentious content over the messaging service. The keyword feature does not seem to be active, but as Jeffrey Knockel, author of the Citizen Lab report, told the New York Times, they could censor content with “the flip of a switch.” This is one…

newspapers-and-laptop-different-concepts-for-news-network-or-traditional-tabloid-journals-data-sources-electronic-screen-of-computer-or-paper-pages-of-magazines-internet-or-papers-stockpack-adobe-stock
Newspapers and Laptop. Different Concepts for News -  Network or Traditional Tabloid Journals. Data Sources - Electronic Screen of Computer or Paper Pages of Magazines, Internet or Papers

The Cultural Changes That Destroyed Trust in Media

The critical question isn’t whether traditional media are trusted but whether their model can even survive the tsunami of the internet

Felix Salmon, chief financial correspondent at Axios, shares the gloomy news: For the first time ever, fewer than half of all Americans have trust in traditional media, according to data from Edelman’s annual trust barometer shared exclusively with Axios. Trust in social media has hit an all-time low of 27%. Felix Salmon, “Media trust hits new low” at Axios (January 1, 2021) But the trust issue is highly polarized: When Edelman re-polled Americans after the election, the figures had deteriorated even further, with 57% of Democrats trusting the media and only 18% of Republicans. Felix Salmon, “Media trust hits new low” at Axios (January 1, 2021) But even if media are willing to just write off Republicans, it can’t be…

live-house-fly-stockpack-adobe-stock
live house fly

How Do Insects Use Their Very Small Brains To Think Clearly?

How do they engage in complex behaviour with only 100.000 to a million neurons?

If we had a skeleton that was outside, not inside, our body — and six legs — we might find it easier to understand how insects think. But only a bit easier. Despite complex behavior, insects are working with 100,000 to maybe a million neurons, compared to our, maybe, 86 billion — but insects make the most of what they have. Consider, for example, the dragonfly. How does it manage to deal with all the issues that a fighter pilot must address, while catching prey? One adaptation is specialized neurons: Dragonflies (order Odonata) and hoverflies (order Diptera) are among insect flyers equipped with special neurons for targeting with optic flow. “The ability of insects to successfully pursue targets in clutter…

lego-mindstom-ev3-fll-robotics-competitions-for-kid-stockpack-unsplash
LEGO MINDSTOM EV3 - FLL ROBOTICS COMPETITIONS for kid.

A Lego Toy That Solves Mazes May Bring New Hope to Amputees

Organic materials that enable computer chips to work like neurons could improve the usability of prostheses

A Lego toy robot with an organic brain, programmed to solve mazes, promises better prostheses: In the winter of 1997 Carver Mead lectured on an unusual topic for a computer scientist: the nervous systems of animals, such as the humble fly. Mead, a researcher at the California Institute of Technology, described his earlier idea for an electronic problem-solving system inspired by nerve cells, a technique he had dubbed “neuromorphic” computing. A quarter-century later, researchers have designed a carbon-based neuromorphic computing device—essentially an organic robot brain—that can learn to navigate a maze. Saugat Bolakhe, “Lego Robot with an Organic ‘Brain’ Learns to Navigate a Maze” at Scientific American (January 28, 2022) The difference between a regular materials-only computer chip made of…