Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive May 2022

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The UFO shines on a man standing on the mountain

Pentagon aims to reduce “stigma” around reporting UFOs

The UAPs (formerly UFOs) could be undocumented weather phenomena, returned space junk, or advanced surveillance craft that hostile powers are not telling the United States about. Or…

From Futurism, we hear that government officials are clashing over how much of their accumulated UFO (now called UAP) information they should share with Congress and the public: In interviews with Politico, government officials — who, unsurprisingly, spoke on condition of anonymity — said that there are those within the Pentagon who are “protecting very interesting information” from being released to the public, even as others within and outside the Defense Department are trying to bring daylight to this subject of increasing interest. “They fetishize their secret society,” one intelligence official told Politico in interviews ahead of tomorrow’s House Intelligence Committee hearings on unidentified aerial phenomenon (UAPs, which is the military’s rebranding of what were previously known as UFOs), the…

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Senior man wearing t-rex dinosaur mask withdraw money from bank cash machine with debit card - Surreal image of half human and animal - Absurd and crazy concept of ATM advertise

Could the Dinosaurs Have Had a Now-Lost Civilization?

Geoscientist Dirk Schultze-Makuch asks us to be sure why we believe it couldn’t be true. Not as simple as it first appears…

That’s just crazy talk, right? Geoscientist Dirk Schulze-Makuch, author of The Cosmic Zoo (2017), asks us to think again before dismissing it: Let’s imagine for a moment that some civilization went extinct millions of years before hominids even appeared. Although there isn’t a precise definition of “civilization,” we usually associate it with a species capable of altering its physical environment on a regional or even planetary scale. How would we know, millions of years later, that they had been here? All evidence of their technological achievements is almost certain to have disappeared long ago, as persuasively shown by Alan Weisman in his 2007 book, The World Without Us. Cities and large constructions like dams would quickly crumble and return to…

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Magic Forest at Night under Fullmoon with Fireflies VR360

Firefly: What Worked, What Didn’t… and WHY Was It Cancelled?

When all is said and done, Firefly is one of those classic series that any sci-fi fan should watch

When everything is said and done, Firefly is an excellent series. So the question remains; why was it cancelled? Many opinions have been aired in the entertainment media. In my view, three major reasons stand out. Number 1: The Friday night death slot. That;s what they call it when a show targeted at a younger audience runs in that slot because that audience was usually not at home on Friday nights. So, when the show aired, there was nobody to watch it. Number 2: Bad marketing. It’s said that the promos advertised the series as more or less a zany comedy. While Firefly does have moments of levity, it is more of an action-adventure series. There are plenty of serious…

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3D human brain

Even Neurons Have Rich Clubs and Poor Clubs

Both — doing different jobs — are essential to the brain’s functioning

New York University School of Medicine neuroscientist György Buzsáki offers a long essay at Scientific American, explaining how he came to adopt an “inside-out,” rather than an “outside-in” perspective on how the brain works. The brain, in his view, is primarily preoccupied with self-organization and it incorporates outside information in order to help with that project. Along the way, he entertainingly describes two different types of neurons and what they do: Most neurons are only weakly connected to others, whereas a smaller subset retains robust links. The strongly connected minority is always on the alert. It fires rapidly, shares information readily within its own group, and stubbornly resists any modifications to the neurons’ circuitry. Because of the multitude of connections…

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A trio of woolly mammoths trudges over snow covered hills.  Behind them, mountains with snow covered peaks rise above dark green forests of fir trees. 3D Rendering

Did Small Brains Doom the Mammoth and the Giant Armadillo?

A recent study showed that survivors had brains that were 53% larger, which was perhaps useful in avoiding predators

A recent study of mammal extinctions during and after the Ice Age found that the large mammals (megafauna) that went extinct during the period of 115,000 years ago through 500 years ago (the Late Quaternary) had smaller brains in relation to body mass than those that survived: The researchers explain that the last Ice Age was characterized by the widespread extinction of large and giant animals on all continents on earth (except Antarctica). Among these were, in America, giant ground sloths weighing 4 tons, a giant armadillo weighing a ton, and mastodons; in Australia the marsupial diprotodon weighing a ton, giant kangaroos, and a marsupial ‘lion’; and in Eurasia giant deer, woolly rhinoceros, mammoth, and giant elephants weighing up to…

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algae biofuel tube in biotech laboratory, Photobioreactor in lab algae fuel biofuel industry

Researchers Fuel a Microprocessor Using Power From Seaweed

When they photosynthesize, algae produce a current that can be captured and used to power a small device

It may seem odd that algae (seaweed) can power an electronic device. Cambridge researchers recently powered a microprocessor continuously for over a year using a common type of blue-green algae (Synechocystis), providing them with light and water. They suggest that algae might be able to provide power to small devices. Here’s how it works: Some advantages of algae, according to the researchers: ● Because algae use light as their energy source to produce a tiny electrical current, they don’t “run down,” like batteries. ● Systems for using algae to produce current can be made from “common, inexpensive and largely recyclable materials” according to the researchers, Paulo Bombelli et al., who developed the test device. Its main use is seen to…

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Social but not social

Will AI Overtake Humans? Only If We Let It

We are getting too cozy with dependence on high tech to ease the burden of thinking for ourselves

This story originally appeared at Newsmax. (May 19, 2022) As I reported last year, there’s been a lot of talk about a Singularity in the last decade. That’s the point when machine intelligence (AI) exceeds human intelligence and begins to rule humanity and eventually the entire universe. It’s a scary proposition to be sure, but we can rest easy on that front, because it’s not going to happen. The futurists assume there’s a bridge between narrow applications of AI and the general intelligence humans possess. But no such bridge exists. As Erik J. Larson explains in his book The Myth of Artificial Intelligence, we’re not even on the right road to such a bridge. You can also take George Gilder’s word for it. One…

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nerve cells

New Learning Model for Brain Overturns 70 Years of Theory

The new model, if confirmed, could change the way algorithms are developed

According to new research, when learning takes place, it’s not just the synapses (by which neurons send signals to each other but the whole communication structure (the dendrites) of the neuron that changes. The researchers compare the synapses to leaves and the dendrites to a tree. This, if it replicates, is a radical revision from nearly a century ago. For the last 70 years a core hypothesis of neuroscience has been that brain learning occurs by modifying the strength of the synapses, following the relative firing activity of their connecting neurons. This hypothesis has been the basis for machine and deep learning algorithms which increasingly affect almost all aspects of our lives. But after seven decades, this long-lasting hypothesis has…

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Social media censorship, political war between US president banning social networks. Tiny person on the laptop keyboard looking at the forbidden sign on the screen. Internet communication risk concept

New U.S. Disinformation Board on Hold Amid Flak From Both Sides

Most current controversies are not clear divisions between True and Untrue or Right and Wrong. Government would merely reinforce the Establishment

If you’d blinked, you’d have missed it: The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday paused a new and controversial board’s work on disinformation and accepted the resignation of its leader, capping weeks of concerns about impinging on free speech rights and at times frenzied conspiracy theories about the board itself… The Disinformation Governance Board’s director, Nina Jankowicz, wrote Wednesday that the board’s future was “uncertain,” according to a resignation letter obtained by The Associated Press. Nomaan Merchant and Amanda Seitz, “New ‘disinformation’ board paused amid free speech questions” at Associated Press (May 18, 2022) A recommendation as to whether the Board should continue will be offered, we are told, within 75 days. The Washington Post knows who to blame: “How…

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Two cats hide under the blanket. Outside, the winter snow. The concept of home comfort, security, warmth

Why Cats Can Remember Other Cats’ Names

University of Kyoto scientists found that they can indeed remember, provided they live in the same household

In a study of 48 cats living in private homes and pet cafés, scientists at Kyoto University in Japan determined that they can recognize the names humans give to them if they live in the same household: The scientists showed pet cats living in homes and felines living in “cat cafés” photos of cats they resided with to determine their reactions. The cats were then played an audio recording of their owners, or a researcher, calling out a name — either the name of the familiar cat in the photo or a fake name. Researchers discovered that pet cats spent more time looking at the image when the audio incorrectly identified a familiar cat than when the correct name was…

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Business crisis manager stopping falling dominos from collapsing

Who Opposes Musk’s Proposed Twitter Takeover Deal?

Four groups to watch are Twitter employees, left-wing action coalitions, legacy media, and the European Union

First, the state of play: Elon Musk’s foray into buying Twitter remains on hold amid disputes about how much of Twitter is dominated by bot accounts. Musk believes that 20% of the accounts are spam. Spam bots on Twitter are automated accounts that can take actions like real humans, such as sending out tweets, following other users, as well as liking and retweeting other users’ posts. Such accounts can be programmed to try and drive traffic to a product or service as part of a commercial endeavor or spread content as part of a social or political influence operation. Tom Ozimek, “Musk Says Twitter Deal on Hold Over Spam Bots” at Epoch Times (May 13, 2022) That’s something Musk says…

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scuba diving octopus lembeh strait indonesia underwater

Can Largely Rearranged Genomes Explain Why Octopuses Are Smart?

Even compared to each other, the genomes of three cephalopods studied had been broken up and extensively reorganized

Octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish are among the smartest invertebrates, rivalling mammals for complex behavior that can include delaying gratification, having good memories (even in old age), and getting emotional about pain. Yet they are related to life forms like the nautilus which displays few such qualities. Looking to solve the mystery, researchers began to examine the genomes of the two-spot octopus, the Boston Market squid, and the Hawaiian bobtail squid. And that’s where they discovered something interesting. Squid genomes were arranged differently from those of similar life forms.: Compared to genomes from some of their mollusk kin, the coleoid cephalopods’ genomes are very divergent, says [Oleg] Simakov. “You have this mosaic of chromosomes, where ancestral chromosomes were broken up and…

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Big data futuristic visualization abstract illustration

How Software Makers Will Push Back Against Reforms

Software makers will grumble but insurers may force their hand. That, however, is NOT the Big Battle…

Veteran software developer David A. Kruger offered some thoughts on computer security recently at Expensivity and we appreciate the opportunity to republish them here as a series. On Friday, we looked at the claim that human data collectors should own your data because it is too complex for you to manage. In this final installment, we look at how tech companies will try to avoid actually having to change anything. Preview of Coming Attractions If policymakers start to move towards implementing the policies suggested above, there will be a pushback from software makers that are not HDCs. They will be unhappy about additional software development costs, and they will play the “It’s the cyberattackers, not us!” card, saying it’s unfair to hold…

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flock of bees flying near the beehive

Claim: Honeybees, “Like Humans” Can Tell Odd vs. Even Numbers

Ants, fruit flies, and even plants can also calculate but it does not follow that they are conscious of what they are doing

Recently, researchers, using sugar water, taught honeybees to distinguish odd from even numbers: Our results showed the miniature brains of honeybees were able to understand the concepts of odd and even. So a large and complex human brain consisting of 86 billion neurons, and a miniature insect brain with about 960,000 neurons, could both categorize numbers by parity. Scarlett Howard, Adrian Dyer, Andrew Greentree and Jair Garcia, “Honeybees join humans as the only known animals that can tell the difference between odd and even numbers” at Phys.org (April 29, 2022) The paper is open access. That should, of course, be a hint that bees are probably using a much less complex process than humans. Bees would be useful for this…

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All Religions Temple in Kazan, Russia

What Do Christianity and Hinduism Have in Common?

And where do they differ?

At Theology Unleashed, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and Hindu philosopher and broadcaster Akhandadhi Das discuss the similarities and differences between Thomistic philosophy and Vedanta Philosophy. Thomistic philosophy is the philosophy originally developed by Thomas Aquinas (1225– 1274), adapting the approach taken by early philosopher of science Aristotle (384– 322 BC) to the Christian worldview of the High Middle Ages. His work is of enduring significance in philosophy. Vedanta is “one of the world’s most ancient spiritual philosophies and one of its broadest, based on the Vedas, the sacred scriptures of India. It is the philosophical foundation of Hinduism… Vedanta affirms: The oneness of existence, The divinity of the soul, and The harmony of all religions.” – Vedanta Society of Southern California…

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Human fetus on scientific background

Must We Be Able To Reason To Be Thought Of As Human Persons?

A common argument as to why abortion is generally ethical is that the unborn child cannot reason

Perhaps the most common justification that abortion proponents give for supporting abortion is that the human embryo or fetus isn’t capable of rational thought — and rational thought is the defining characteristic of humanity. They’re wrong in a fundamental way. How they’re wrong is best understood if we look at the metaphysics of human development. Metaphysics is “The branch of philosophy that examines the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, fact and value.” (American Heritage Dictionary) The ancient philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BC), who provided an important foundation for science, pointed out that humans are rational animals. That is, we have at least the possibility of rational thought, although at some stages of life…

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set of alien planet isolated on black background, nearby exoplanets (3d science illustration)

Among 5000 Known Exoplanets, There Are Some Really Strange Ones

Planets so strange that they prompt a rethink of the “planetary rulebook.”

PBS tells us that Hoth, the frozen planet in Star Wars, is not just imagination. It has a real-life counterpart among the exoplanets. Granted, astronomers call it OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb but even they think of it as “Hoth.” Here’s the video. Such strange planets are prompting a rethink of the “planetary rulebook.” Another strange one: Narrator: 51 Pegasi b is a gas giant, around half the mass of Jupiter, but so close to its star that part of its atmosphere may have been ripped away… Hannah Wakeford: These planets are baked by their stars’ radiation, the temperatures are in the thousands. David Charbonneau: Many astronomers didn’t believe it, because the planet was in the wrong place. It was enormous. It was massive,…

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Flying spacecrafts

New Study on Why Aliens Never Phone, Never Write, Never Visit

Planetary scientists suggest that civilizations follow a trajectory in which there is only a short window of time to look for intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations

On the one hand, the National Academy of Sciences has said that we may communicate with extraterrestrial intelligences during our lifetimes. On the other hand, Italian physicist Enrico Fermi (1901–1954) asked, “Where are they?” (the Fermi Paradox). A new study suggests that the natural development of civilizations may be to blame: In the hopes of answering this question, a new paper published on May 4 in the journal Royal Society Open Science claims that “civilizations either collapse from burnout or redirect themselves to prioritizing homeostasis, a state where cosmic expansion is no longer a goal, making them difficult to detect remotely.” “Either outcome — homeostatic awakening or civilization collapse — would be consistent with the observed absence of [galactic-wide] civilizations.”…

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Abstract scientific background - planets in space, nebula and stars. Elements of this image furnished by NASA nasa.gov

Firefly Episode 14: Ending on a High Note

River proves to be a telepath but highly unstable, as she mistakes a gun for a stick and Mal must get it away from her

It’s been a wild ride as we’ve reviewed the first and only season of Firefly. During the last half of the season, we had three incredible episodes back to back, then two that were awful. But thankfully, the last episode is said to be one of the greatest. In fact, whenever the series comes up in discussion, this episode seems to be the one people point to as a favorite. It opens from River’s perspective. We see that she can indeed read people’s minds. The way this is done is very interesting. As she is watching the crew talk about various issues, their words and thoughts are spoken side by side as if they are all a part of one…

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Roboter auf Tastatur, Methapher für Chatbot / Socialbot, Algorithmen und künstliche Intelligenz

Musk’s Twitter Deal Is at Risk Amid Fierce Attacks on Him

Tarred as a privileged white South African, Musk moved to Canada at 17 to avoid serving in South Africa’s apartheid army

Traditional media and many tech mavens are elated that Elon Musk’s Twitter deal is now shaky. It’s no secret that they were unhappy with it and with him. The New York Times launched an extraordinary attack on Musk on May 5, tweeting “Elon Musk grew up in elite white communities in South Africa, detached from apartheid’s atrocities and surrounded by anti-Black propaganda. He sees his takeover of Twitter as a free speech win but in his youth did not suffer the effects of misinformation.” In reality, Musk left for Canada at the age of 17, to avoid serving in the South African military, whose principal purpose was to oppress black South Africans. He had Canadian citizenship by way of his…