Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive March 2022

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Words HYPE and HOPE written on blocks of wood. The word HOPE goes over the word HYPE.

Robert J. Marks: AI History — How Did All the Hype Get Started?

Dr. Marks and Gretchen Huizinga muse on the remarkable inventors who made AI what it is — and isn’t — today

In the first segment of the recent podcast, “What Does It Mean to Be Human in an Age of Artificial Intelligence?”, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks discussed what artificial intelligence can and can’t do and its ethical implications with veteran podcaster Gretchen Huizinga In this segment, they talk about the hope, the hype and the likely realities. The entire interview was originally published by Christian think tank, the Beatrice Institute (March 3, 2022) and is repeated here with their kind permission: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/03/Mind-Matters-Episode-176-Beatrice-Institute-Rebroadcast-rev1.mp3 Here’s a partial transcript of the second segment, with notes and links: This portion begins at 18:55 min. A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Gretchen Huizinga: Computational intelligence is one of…

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Extreme magnification - Jumping spider portrait, front view

Spiders Are Smart; Be Glad They Are Small

Recent research has shed light on the intriguing strategies that spiders use to deceive other spiders — and prey in general

Spiders, like octopuses, have eight legs. But they share something else as well — like octopuses, once we got around to studying them, they turned out to be much smarter than expected. What makes spiders even more unusual is that they are smart with very small brains: “There is this general idea that probably spiders are too small, that you need some kind of a critical mass of brain tissue to be able to perform complex behaviors,” says arachnologist and evolutionary biologist Dimitar Dimitrov of the University Museum of Bergen in Norway. “But I think spiders are one case where this general idea is challenged. Some small things are actually capable of doing very complex stuff.” Behaviors that can be…

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Meta Suspends Hate Speech Policy in Countries Near Russia

Hate speech and death threats against Russian and Belarusian political leaders and their militaries are temporarily allowed in twelve Eastern European countries

In a dramatic change of policy, Meta (formerly known as Facebook) will temporarily allow users of Facebook and Instagram in twelve countries to post hate speech and death threats directed toward Russian and Belarusian military personnel and political leaders within the context of the conflict in Ukraine. The change was first reported by Reuters on Thursday morning. A Meta spokesperson told Reuters, “As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’ We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians.” Calls for violence against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko are…

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Asian businesswoman in formal suit working with computer laptop for Polygonal brain shape of an artificial intelligence with various icon of smart city Internet of Things, AI and business IOT concept

Robert J. Marks: Zeroing In on What AI Can and Can’t Do

Walter Bradley Center director Marks discusses what’s hot and what’s not in AI with fellow computer maven Gretchen Huizinga

What makes mankind special? And what does it mean to flourish on the frontier of a technological future? In a recent podcast, “What Does It Mean to Be Human in an Age of Artificial Intelligence?”, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks discusses what artificial intelligence can and can’t do and its ethical implications with veteran podcaster Gretchen Huizinga This interview was originally published by Christian think tank, the Beatrice Institute (March 3, 2022) and is repeated here with their kind permission: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/03/Mind-Matters-Episode-176-Beatrice-Institute-Rebroadcast-rev1.mp3 Here’s a partial transcript of the first segment, with notes and links: Gretchen Huizinga: Well, Bob, you’re not just a senior fellow and director of the Walter Bradley Center, but you’re also a co-founder and were instrumental…

shopping online at home concept.Cartons in a shopping cart on a laptop keyboard

Government Control of What You Buy Grows More Popular

With governments, that is. You’d be surprised at how far along they are with digital currency and how detailed the control could be

Recently, we looked at a new idea governments are looking at — programmable digital currency. It’s all digital, issued by government, constantly trackable, and can’t be spent on items not approved by government (or only with penalties). The Federal Reserve Board (the United States’ central bank) explains, bureaucratically, Potential benefits of the “digital cash” model using programmable UTXOs are the ability to specify spending constraints on any discrete amount of value and a greater facility to trace the provenance of any particular “virtual banknote.” Alexander Lee, “What is programmable money?” at FEDS Notes (June 23, 2021) In other words, the two benefits of these central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are that the government can potentially control what the money is…

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Futuristic portable device and many pictures.

YouTube Suspends News Show for Reporting on Misinformation

The show's host has accused YouTube of failing to "distinguish between misinformation and reporting"

Last week, YouTube suspended a popular daily news show from The Hill for including in its reporting footage of former President Donald Trump repeating the claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him, a claim that violates YouTube’s policies on misinformation. The co-hosts of the show have criticized the suspension, arguing that the policy, as enforced, is a threat to journalism on YouTube. One of the co-hosts posted about it on Twitter: Robby Soave and Ryan Grim co-host Rising, a daily morning news show for The Hill, one of the country’s leading political newspapers. Last week, they discovered that their channel had been temporarily suspended based on two videos that the show posted that had violated YouTube’s policies. The…

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warhead on transport stand, against a rocket. Weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, a bomb.

What Would a Real-World Nuclear Attack Be Like?

We know some of what it would be like from the records and reconstruction of the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima

Since 1992, I’ve made annual visits to one of the most tranquil places I know, Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory 11,200 feet above the Pacific Ocean. After calibrating my atmospheric instruments, every evening I photograph the sunset while thinking about the horrors of nuclear war. That’s because I’m standing behind the old Atomic Energy Commission Building, from where nuclear tests over the Pacific were once photographed. The origin of those tests occurred 38 minutes before sunrise on July 16, 1945, when the pitch-black sky over New Mexico’s Jornada del Muerto (Journey of Death) desert was instantaneously transformed into a blinding white glare. Scientists and technicians observed this phenomenon from miles away through welder’s glass to protect their eyes. What they saw…

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Woman with hygienic mask shopping for supply.Budget buying at a supply store.Emergency to buy list.Shopping for enough food and cleaning products.Preparation for a pandemic quarantine due to covid-19

Historian Niall Ferguson on What We Can Learn From COVID

To start with how can we be pretty sure we are over it? Ferguson offers some evidence

At COSM 2021, Jay Richards interviewed historian Niall Ferguson, author of Doom: The politics of catastrophe (2021), on the lessons we could learn from historic disasters in interpreting the COVID-19 crises. Ferguson spoke at COSM 2021 (November 10, 3:00 pm) on “Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe”: Setting the annus horribilis of 2020 in historical perspective, Niall Ferguson explains why we are getting worse, not better, at handling disasters. The lessons of history that this country — indeed the West as a whole — urgently need to learn, if we want to handle the next crisis better, and to avoid the ultimate doom of irreversible decline. Generally, he sees the economic impact of the COVID shutdown as comparable to fighting World…

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Personal social credit score. Machine Learning analytics identify person technology,Artificial intelligence no privacy security camera technology concept. Software ui analytics and recognition people.

Is an AI-Driven Social Control System Emerging in America?

The gradual merger of Big Tech and Big Government is worthy of close analysis

Readers may assume that a “social credit system” where government monitors a citizen’s every move and assigns a score or takes action, could only happen in China. But increasingly, governments can monitor a citizen’s every move in North America too. Technology policy analyst Kara Fredericks explains: As Canada demonstrated, Western governments and tech companies are mobilizing to cut off mainstream citizens from public life and constrain their private lives. Actions like protesting government overreach, expressing “anti-authority” ideologies, or even sharing “disinformation” on social media may now be classified as terrorism… In the United States, the increasingly oppressive collaboration between public and private entities is not enforced at the barrel of a gun. It arises from an ideological symbiosis between tech…

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Empty laboratory test tubes isolated on white

“Nothing But… ” Is Now Creating a Crisis in Science

When science writers (and scientists) start using words like “miraculously,” it’s a clue that they are really stumped

In a recent article in Quanta, science writer Natalie Wolchover discusses a little-advertised fact, that the much ballyhooed Large Hadron Collider supports the idea that our universe is fine-tuned — by an intelligence beyond nature? — and that there are many efforts afoot to reinterpret the findings so as to make the problem go away: The crisis became undeniable in 2016, when, despite a major upgrade, the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva still hadn’t conjured up any of the new elementary particles that theorists had been expecting for decades. The swarm of additional particles would have solved a major puzzle about an already known one, the famed Higgs boson. The hierarchy problem, as the puzzle is called, asks why the…

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Frog hiding in the mud

Science Writer: Explain-Away-the-Mind Book Doesn’t Succeed

In a departure from an all-too familiar approach to science writing, Philip Ball offers constructive criticism of the “nothing but”approach to the mind

At eminent science journal Nature, science writer Philip Ball reviews a book offering to explain how the mind arose from the mud. And he departs from the script. The book is Journey of the Mind: How Thinking Emerged from Chaos by neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam. One would expect a conventional science writer to announce that this new book is an important contribution to the quest to naturalize the human mind — to show that the mind is a mere adaptation that enabled the tailless ape to survive the savannah. Such a belief needn’t be true (and isn’t); it’s intended as a placeholder for a better-founded purely naturalist belief. Yet Ball looks at the claims made in Journey of…

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Concept of accusation guilty person girl.

Why Is Cancel Culture Such a Big Part of Our Lives Today?

To understand the Twitter mob’s destruction of lives and careers, it’s essential to address the immense power of groupthink

Just in time for International Women’s Day, Emma Camp, a female student at the University of Virginia, reports experiencing a wave of hostility when she suggested that non-Indian women could legitimately criticize the practice of suttee, by which a woman burns to death on her husband’s funeral pyre, voluntarily or otherwise. The reaction on Twitter suggests that Cancel Culture is its lifeblood. Meanwhile, virologist Julie Overbaugh, a National Academy of Sciences member who has made many contributions to the study of viruses, has been forced out of her teaching and research leadership positions because she had worn a Michael Jackson costume to a Halloween “King of Pop” party in 2009. Curiously, although one of her cited offences in connection with…

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San Francisco aerial view from sea side. Port of San Francisco in the front. City downtown and skyscrapers at sunrise.

When Silicon Valley Turns From Hype Over Vaporware to Fraud…

Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith discuss the famous Theranos case, which resulted huge losses and in convictions for fraud

In a column published today at MarketWatch, Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith talk about that unpleasant subject, the shady side of Silicon Valley. They’re not looking at the unicorns naively chasing rainbows but rather the cases of apparently deliberate deception. One of them is vaporware— announcing a product that won’t really exist any time soon (perhaps in the hope of dissuading potential buyers from investing in a competitor’s product). Another is “fake it until you make it,” the topic of today’s column. Investors sign on by throwing money at the company, which the company then spends trying to develop what it said it already has. Either way, the company keeps lying as long as necessary, or until its cover is…

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A humanoid robot with a shopping trolley is shopping at a grocery store. Future concept with robotics and artificial intelligence. 3D rendering.

Engineering Mag Editor Dislikes Androids That Make People “Feel”

That’s not really the job of a robot, says Evan Ackerman, who“hugs robots” himself

Evan Ackerman, a senior editor at the prominent engineering mag IEEE Spectrum, thinks — even though he “hugs robots” — that we don’t really need androids in daily life. Ackerman, who has a degree in Martian geology, focuses on “Nicola,” an android under development at Riken, a research institute in Japan, modeled on a boy and intended to ““to promote natural interactions with both adults and children.” So far, it is only a head. The reason that this research was necessary is because androids can be tricky to read at times, especially when making expressions associated with negative emotions, which are more difficult to distinguish. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m so skeptical that androids are the best…

Camera slowly moving in data center showing server equipment wit

Serverless Computing: What Is It?

A serverless system makes for a more convenient and efficient experience

A new trend in cloud programming these days is known as “serverless” programming. This term is a bit confusing, because it does not mean that your code isn’t running on a server. What it does mean is that you don’t have to manage the server(s). The Physical Server In the early days of the Internet, nearly all communication was directly between the “client” (the person using a web browser or other application) and the “server” (the physical device you were communicating with). Of course, there is a limit to the number of connections that a single physical machine can process. Early on, several mechanisms were developed that allowed companies to grow their services beyond what a single machine could handle,…

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Creative businessman with an idea

Study: When Solving Puzzles, Spontaneous Insight Beats Analysis

A study out of Belgium compared the results of analytical thinking and flashes of insight, both with and without distractions

CUNY journalism teacher Emily Laber-Warren reports at Scientific American on an interesting psychology study out of Belgium that divided the 105 undergraduate participants into three groups where each member was to solve to solve a group of 70 word puzzles under three different conditions,. The first group just had to solve the puzzle in 25 seconds or less, the second group had to also remember two numbers flashed on a screen, and the third group had to remember four numbers flashed on the screen. Each participant was asked to record whether the puzzle was solved by an Aha! insight or systematically, step by step. Laber-Warren explains: The purpose of making people remember random numbers was to burden their mind with…

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Woman in red cloak praying alone

Study: Accountability to God Means a Greater Sense of Well-being

Researchers found that the association between accountability to the divine and sense of psychological well-being was stronger in those who prayed more

A recently published study sought to measure the difference that a sense of accountability to God made in terms of psychological well-being, as distinct from church attendance, prayer and meditation: Religious believers who embrace accountability to God (or another transcendent guide for life) experience higher levels of three of the four variables of psychological well-being – mattering to others, dignity and meaning in their lives, though not happiness – according to a study from researchers with Baylor University, Westmont College and Hope College. The study also found that this relationship is stronger among those who pray more often, suggesting that accountability coupled with communication may be a powerful combination for well-being. Lorie Fogleman, Baylor University, “Study Examines Link Between Accountability…

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Robot with Artificial Intelligence observing human skull in Evolved Cybernetic organism world. 3d rendered image

Experts Guess: How Might Humans Change Over the Next 10,000 Years?

So much has changed in the past few thousand years that the past may not be a reliable guide to the future

Evolutionary biologist Nicholas R. Longrich thinks he knows how human beings will change in the next 10,000 years: It’s hard to predict the future. The world will probably change in ways we can’t imagine. But we can make educated guesses. Paradoxically, the best way to predict the future is probably looking back at the past, and assuming past trends will continue going forward. This suggests some surprising things about our future. We will likely live longer and become taller, as well as more lightly built. We’ll probably be less aggressive and more agreeable, but have smaller brains. A bit like a golden retriever, we’ll be friendly and jolly, but maybe not that interesting. At least, that’s one possible future. Nicholas…

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Clocks in sky. Time flies

Even If a Time Machine Didn’t Kill You, It Wouldn’t Change Much

Here are some interesting reflections by science buffs on time machines, as seen in movie clips. Are they even possible?

Cartoonist and science fan David B. Clear explains why it’s not as simple as in the sci-fi films: Let’s assume you’d travel back 1,000 years into the past. Where exactly in the universe was our Earth so long ago? You would have to know and you would have to know very precisely. The smallest error and you’d end up in space again or, which is not much better, you’d transport yourself into the Earth’s crust, into the middle of a mountain, or somewhere in the middle of the atmosphere… And even if you could make sure that there’s nothing standing at your destination, you still have another problem — you need to match the Earth’s speed and direction. In other…

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Still life with old-fashioned lamp, magic witch books, tarot cards and old papers. Mystic background with ritual esoteric objects, occult, fortune telling and halloween concept

Firefly Episode 5: So River Is Now a Witch? Part 2

Simon and River are captured because a town on the planet lacks a doctor. But then things take an occult turn…

As I mentioned in the first part of this review of Episode 5, we stumble through a series of contrivances to get Simon and River kidnapped. Mal and his crew continue to make baffling choices. They decide to leave Simon and River behind. Mal essentially says that they were stupid enough to get themselves caught, so they are on their own. This is baffling because Mal’s driving force is worry about his crew, and he’s long since made it clear that he considers Simon and River to be part of his crew. Because he was the one who had told them to take a hike, one would think that he’d feel some sort of responsibility for their predicament. But he…