Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive May 2022

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…

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…

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…

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…

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,…

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.”…

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…

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…

Independent Thinking

A British Philosopher Looks For a Way to Redefine Free Will

Julian Baggini’s proposed new approach assumes the existence of the very qualities that only a traditional view of the mind offers

British philosopher Julian Baggini, author of The Great Guide: What David Hume Can Teach Us about Being Human and Living Well (2021) argues against the idea of free will, as commonly understood (voluntarist free will). Citing the fact that the world is controlled by physics, he writes, No matter how free we feel, our understanding of nature tells us that no choice originates in us but traces its history throughout our histories and our environments. Even leaving aside physics, it seems obvious that, at the moment of any choice, the conditions for that choice have already been set, and to be able to escape them would be no more than the ability to generate random actions. And if all that…

Smart technologies in your smartphone, collection and analysis of big data

Is Your Data About Yourself Too Complex for You to Manage?

That’s the argument human data collectors (HDCs) make for why they should be allowed to collect and own your data

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 Tuesday, we looked at how the current system punishes small businesses for data breaches that they could not have prevented. Today, we look at the claim that human data collectors should own your data because it is too complex for you to manage. The Easy Button The most common objection to data ownership is that self-management of owned data is overly complex. That view is based on the complexity of so-called “privacy controls” offered by big tech HDCs, controls which have every appearance of being deliberately obtuse. As a software developer and…


What You Need To Know About Surveillance Capitalism

A Harvard professor coined the term and her 2019 book sounds a warning about how Google and Facebook gain power and wealth selling YOU

The term “surveillance capitalism” was coined by Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff in her book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. It’s a fascinating read, offering insight into the power that companies like Google and Facebook have amassed and the danger that power poses to our way of life. Here’s how she explained it to the United Kingdom’s Channel 4 News in 2019: Here’s how surveillance capitalism works, just in brief. It begins with these companies claiming, unilaterally claiming, our private human experience as their free source of raw material. So what do they do with that raw material? They lift out of it the rich predictive signals in our…

A Frankenstein's Monster Lurks in the Dead of Night

Of Woman and Machine: Are Women and Technology at Odds?

A DailyWire host turns to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for some insights

That’s what author and DailyWire host Andrew Klavan argues in his book The Truth and Beauty (2022). In perhaps the best chapter in a book analyzing the Romantic poets, Klavan turns to Mary Shelley (1797–1851), the teenage author of Frankenstein. Shelley was not a Romantic poet, Klavan admits, but she was married to a Romantic poet (Percy Shelley, ) and was greatly influenced by the Romantics of her era. The common conclusion is that Frankenstein is about man’s attempt to usurp God. Even Shelley herself stated that about her book. “But I don’t think this is what the novel is about at all,” Klavan posits. To me, the greatness of the story, the horror of the story, and the threat…

Positive girl resting on the couch with robot

Turing Tests Are Terribly Misleading

Black box algorithms are now being trusted to approve loans, price insurance, screen job applicants, trade stocks, determine prison sentences, and much more. Is that wise?

In 1950 Alan Turing proposed that the question, “Can machines think?,” be replaced by a test of how well a computer plays the “imitation game.” A man and woman go into separate rooms and respond with typewritten answers to questions that are intended to identify the players, each of whom is trying to persuade the interrogators that they are the other person. Turing proposed that a computer take the part of one of the players and the experiment be deemed a success if the interrogators are no more likely to make a correct identification. There are other versions of the game, some of which were suggested by Turing. The standard Turing test today involves a human and a computer and…

needle into eye
Danger for the eye

Cybersecurity: Why a Poke in the Eye Does Not Work

The current system punishes small businesses for data breaches they could not have prevented

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. Yesterday, we looked at how online human data collectors get free from legal responsibility. Today we look at how the current system punishes small businesses for data breaches that they could not have prevented. A Poke in the Eye Furthermore, in the domain of unintended consequences, deterrence polices are based on the technological symptomatic point solution fallacy. Businesses are assumed to be negligent if they have a data breach. That’s correct in some cases, but in others, businesses, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, suffer increased compliance costs or have been bankrupted by data breaches that they…

Unicorn Landscape

How Far Will Unicorn Share Prices Fall?

Cumulative losses give us some insights

Most investors know that America’s Unicorns are losing money. What they don’t know is that most Unicorns have dug big holes for themselves and aren’t sure how to dig themselves out. What do I mean by holes? I mean massive cumulative losses that have been accumulated over many years of yearly losses. Because many of today’s Unicorn startups were founded at least 10 years ago, and are still unprofitable, they have a had a long time to create huge cumulative losses, some much more than the $3 billion that Amazon once had. The biggest losses are for Uber ($29.1 billion), WeWork ($12.2 billion), Snap ($8.7 billion), Lyft ($8.5 billion), Teledoc Health ($8.1 billion), and Airbnb ($6.4 billion), followed by four…

Stethoscope on computer with test results in Doctor consulting room background and report chart for medical costs in modern hospital on Laptop desk. Healthcare costs business and fees concept.

Would Health Care AI Mean Caregivers Spend More Time on Patients?

Chances are, it will just mean fewer and less qualified caregivers

Pat Baird, regulatory head of global software standards at Philips, recently wrote an article titled, “Can Artificial Intelligence ‘Rehumanize’ Healthcare?” His thesis is that “By lowering administrative burden, AI can increase caregivers’ time spent actually caring for patients.” I will argue that this vision for the contribution of AI to healthcare delivery will not happen due to some very observable forces. A place to begin the analysis is with the funding source for AI in healthcare. AI is bought or developed by healthcare delivery organizations. These organizations are following a business plan and if AI does not provide a business benefit, they will not pay for it. We can conclude that AI in healthcare will be designed and used to…

Bottom view close-up of four white surveillance cameras

People Don’t Need a “Reason” to Want Privacy

We naturally don’t want either government or Big Tech following us around

In 2014, award-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald presented a compelling case for privacy at a TED Conference, dismantling the idea that “only people who are doing something wrong have a reason to hide.” Why did Greenwald feel that message was important? Two years earlier, in 2012, American intelligence contractor Edward Snowmen reached out to Greenwald, offering top secret National Security Agencvy (NSA) documents that its secret mass surveillance network. In 2013, Greenwald’s stories at The Guardian sparked an international conversation on national security versus privacy. The opening sentence of his first article reads, “The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret order…

caged colorful birds
Close up of small caged colorful birds in pet store in morning sun

Can Elon Musk Really Stop Big Tech From Controlling Us?

We usually don’t realize how far it has already gone in efforts to control our thinking

Think it doesn’t control you? Andrew McDiarmid can offer you some examples of pervasive efforts to control our thinking: It appeared in Apple’s iPhone software update this year, when a “pregnant man” emoji was quietly added to keyboards. It’s seen in Google’s new (and currently stalled) “inclusive language” feature, which autocorrects gendered terms like “landlord,” “policeman” or “housewife.” Andrew McDiarmid, “Big Tech is subtly controlling our lives—and we need to fight back” at New York Post (May 7, 2022) Surely, almost nobody on the planet, apart from small pressure groups, had asked for a “pregnant man” emoji. The concept has nothing whatever to do with the serious problems many pregnant women face worldwide. Landlord? Again, many people worldwide face problems…

Close up businesswoman collecting data information converting into statistics, planning strategy gathering resources creating visual graphical graphs using computer laptop and smart mobile device

How Online Human Data Collectors Get Free From Responsibility

Cybersecurity expert David A. Kruger talks about the Brave Old World in which you have much less power than Big Tech does

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. Last week, we looked at how search engine results can be distorted. This week, we look at how HDCs (human data collectors) free themselves from any responsibility for outcomes. Brave Old World HDCs’ licensing strategy is designed to free them from any vestige of fiduciary duty. Fiduciary law traces its roots back to the Code of Hammurabi in 1790 BC, through the Roman Empire, early British law, and up to the present day. The purpose of fiduciary law is to compensate for two sad facts of human nature. In unequally powered business relationships, 1) businesses with more…

interconnected neurons
3D illustration of Interconnected neurons with electrical pulses.

The Mysterious White Matter of the Brain

It’s difficult to study but turns out to be very important

We all talk about “gray matter,” the cerebral cortex of the brain, thought to be the basis for learning, remembering, and reasoning. But what about “white matter”? Neurologist Christopher Filley has the story as to why we don’t know much about it: This lack of recognition largely stems from the difficulty in studying white matter. Because it’s located below the surface of the brain, even the most high-tech imaging can’t easily resolve its details. But recent findings, made possible by advancements in brain imaging and autopsy examinations, are beginning to show researchers how critical white matter is. White matter is comprised of many billions of axons, which are like long cables that carry electrical signals. Think of them as elongated…