Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive July 2022

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Statue of Gaia

Pioneer Environmentalist: Cyborgs Will Rule the Planet

In one of his last pieces, James Lovelock, famous for the Gaia Hypotheses argues that half-human/half-machines will be vastly superior to humans

It might seem odd that a pioneer figure in the environment awareness movement would embrace part-human/part-machine cyborgs. But in 2019, James Lovelock (1919–2022) — one of the originators of the Gaia Hypothesis (that the whole planet can be thought of as a single organism) — wrote that cyborgs would inherit the Earth in the “coming age of hyperintelligence.” Nautilus draws attention to his thoughts on the topic, in recognition of his death on July 26 at 103. In an essay adapted from Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence (2019), Lovelock writes, Our reign as sole understanders of the cosmos is rapidly coming to an end. We should not be afraid of this. The revolution that has just begun may be…

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Abstract futuristic stripe line printed circuit board pattern with gear wheel and math fornula on blue color background. Math science engineered drawn project plot concept

Mathematics Can Prove the Existence of God

Atheist biologist Jerry Coyne finds that difficult to believe but it’s really a matter of logic

In a recent post, atheist biologist Jerry Coyne takes issue with a commenter who asserts that God exists in the same sort of way mathematics exists. Here’s the analogy the commenter offered, as quoted by Coyne: Think of numbers for example, or mathematical equations, these are metaphysical things, that have not been created, however were discovered. The number 7 was the number 7 before anything at all came into existence. This is also true concerning the nature of God. He is not some material being that has come into existence, he is like a number that has always existed, (and by the way nobody will deny this logic with the number, however when someone mentions God a problem occurs). Jerry…

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Agate surface background. Multicolor transparent crystal background. Macro

Exoplanets: Life Forms Made One Third of Earth’s Minerals

Researchers hope detection of such minerals on exoplanets can narrow the search for life

Recent work on how minerals form may help determine which planets are more likely to be habitable or inhabited. One-third of minerals — chemical solids whose atoms are highly ordered — are created directly or indirectly by life forms, says Carnegie geologist Robert Hazen: “One third of Earth’s minerals could not have formed without biology — shells and bones and teeth, or microbes, for example, or the vital indirect role of biology, such as by creating an oxygen-rich atmosphere that led to 2,000 minerals that wouldn’t have formed otherwise.” Carnegie Institution for Science, “Crushed, zapped, boiled, baked and more: Nature used 57 recipes to create Earth’s 10,500-plus ‘mineral kinds’” at ScienceDaily Both papers, here and here, require a fee or…

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full moon in the sky

NASA Finds Spots on the Moon With San Francisco Temperatures

No, this news is NOT from the “Strange News” tabloid at the checkout counter; it really happened and it is good news for proposed moon bases

Talk about a “fairy godmother” find: NASA-funded scientists have discovered shaded locations within pits on the Moon that always hover around a comfortable 63 F (about 17 C) using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft and computer modeling. The pits, and caves to which they may lead, would make thermally stable sites for lunar exploration compared to areas at the Moon’s surface, which heat up to 260 F (about 127 C) during the day and cool to minus 280 F (about minus 173 C) at night. Lunar exploration is part of NASA’s goal to explore and understand the unknown in space, to inspire and benefit humanity. Bill Steigerwald, “NASA’s LRO Finds Lunar Pits Harbor Comfortable Temperatures” at NASA…

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rock-paper-scissors

Marvel Universe: Being All Powerful, It Turns Out, Is Very Boring

The Mirror Dimension in Multiverse of Madness dispenses with sharp intellectual conflict, opting for unexplained power plays instead

Last time, we talked abut the absurdity of the way the conflict between Wanda Maximoff and Dr. Strange is set up. That’s the conflict which leads us to the attack on the ultimate fortress of the Sorcerer Supreme, Kamar-Taj. Considering what we’ve been told, the temple and its defenses are lackluster, to say the least. Wanda breaks through them with ease but there is a more fundamental problem with the struggle as a whole: The writers appear to lack a proper of the understanding of how the magical characters in the Marvel Universe operate. Marvel’s original genius in developing superheroes included giving every character different strengths and weaknesses. The game is somewhat like Rock–Paper–Scissors where Superhero A can beat Superhero…

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DIGITAL MARKETING new startup project MILLENNIALS Business team hands at work with financial reports and a laptop

The Role Mainstream News Media Really Play in Our Society Today

Why, exactly, traditional news media are increasingly out of touch with the public

Yesterday, we looked at why politicians can now get away with ignoring news media: The mainstream media are much less influential than they used to be. One reason is that news consumers use the internet to create their own channels. Once-mighty media are reduced to competing with their own readers for mind space and relevance now. The highlighted politicians were Republicans. But their Democrat opponents are surely in the same position. Whether their base turns out to vote for them in sufficient numbers or not, traditional news media are much less likely to influence the decision than in the past. So, if traditional mainstream news media are not as directly influential as they used to be, what role do they…

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Foreign languages translation or learning languages online. Mobile phone or smartphone with dictionary app on the screen.

Six Brain Regions Control Language — But We’re Not Sure How

We’re learning more about human language but it remains, in its way, mysterious

Neuroscientist Saima Malik-Moraleda told The Scientist, recently that six main regions of the brain respond to language tasks but not to, say, math tasks. Using fMRI data, a recent comprehensive survey — of which she is a co-author — examined two native speakers of each of 45 languages while the speaker was performing either a linguistic or non-linguistic specific task. From the interview, SM-M: But the variability that we saw across languages was lower than the variability that we see across participants, meaning that the language network seems to be incredibly stable and similar across languages. One of the questions that cognitive neuroscientists who particularly study language wonder is: “Why do we have six areas? What does each area do?”…

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Business, finance, savings money, wages, payroll or accounting concept : Calendar with pink marker circle in word payday for remind

Can Your Social Media Posts Sink Your Credit Rating? Maybe…

With AI tools, your posts or the time of day you apply for a loan might matter. Is that fair to you? Did you even know?

University of Georgia law prof Lindsay Sain Jones and Virginia Tech law prof Janine Hiller offer what should be startling news: What does your SAT score mean for your ability to pay off a car loan? What does your Facebook feed say about your chances of landing a mortgage? And, what does your propensity for snacking on road trips mean for your credit score? The answers: More than you think. Traditional credit scoring is based on a person’s demonstrated ability to take on debt and pay it off. But with the dawn of larger data pools and access to more sophisticated modeling programs, lenders and credit agencies are taking more nonfinancial factors into rating creditworthiness, particularly those without an extensive…

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Chef cook food with fire at kitchen restaurant. Cook with wok at kitchen.

If AI Is Like Fire, Let’s Not Get Left With Its Ashes

In a new book, Georgetown University researchers examine what can go right and wrong with adapting our culture to artificial intelligence

Ben Buchanan and Andrew Imbrie, Georgetown University researchers on loan to the U.S. government, think that the invention of artificial intelligence is like the invention of fire. It can bring great benefits — but comes with unavoidable great risks that are equally a consequence of its power to help us. They are honest about AI’s failures, left unattended. As authors of The New Fire: War, Peace, and Democracy in the Age of AI (MIT Press, 2022), they offer some examples from everyday life that certainly give pause for thought: Despite its extraordinary power, AI is far from perfect. Bias insidiously sneaks into AI systems, especially when they learn from data sets of human decisions. The real-world consequences can be severe.…

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Woman gesticulating during interview with media, press conference, close-up

Why Politicians Are Learning to Ignore News Media

Successful politicians now think they can get away with ignoring mainstream media. Could they be onto something?

A recent development — politicians ignoring media — has set journalists buzzing: This past weekend, Florida governor Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio, both of whom are up for reelection this fall, headlined the Republican Party of Florida’s annual Sunshine Summit. Other high-profile Florida Republicans were also in attendance at the Hardrock Hotel & Casino event, which this year tried something new: after seven years of being open to the press, “it limited which media could attend, giving inside-the-room access to right-wing outlets that give the governor positive coverage,” Politico reports, adding that traditional GOP figures were “largely replaced by the conservative social media influencers with massive followings who have recently moved to Florida and become some of DeSantis’ most…

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Pileated woodpecker nest in Florida

Woodpeckers: There Are Advantages to Having a Small Brain

Woodpeckers absorb 1200 to 1400 g shock driving their beaks into wood — but a shock absorbing skull doesn’t explain the absence of damage

How do woodpeckers absorb a remarkable amount of shock to the head — 1200 to 1400 g — for each hit on a tree? A football player might absorb 120 g — without damaging their brains? The answers could help minimize brain damage in humans and suggested explanations include a surplus of tau proteins (2017), an unusual bone in the tongue, and head movements that minimize brain damage. A new research team challenges such explanations saying that their data show that woodpecker heads” act more like stiff hammers” and that “any shock absorbance would hinder the woodpeckers’ pecking abilities.” But then what about the bird’s brain? While the deceleration shock with each peck exceeds the known threshold for a concussion…

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Primeval Caveman Wearing Animal Skin Holds Stone Hammer Stands Near Cave and Looks Around Prehistoric Landscape, Ready to Hunt Animal Prey. Neanderthal Going Hunting into Jungle. Low Angle Shot

Fossil Scientists Ask, Could a Neanderthal Meditate?

A paleoneurology research team suggests they couldn’t. But how can the researchers be sure?

Paleoneurology — the study of the evolution of the brain — is the study of fossil brains of extinct life forms. The brain, as it happens, is “wetware” which doesn’t fossilize so paleoneurologists actually study endocasts (natural or virtual casts) of the interiors of skulls. They try to infer behavior, including language and technical competence from the casts. More ambitiously, neuroscientist Emiliano Bruner and psychologist Roberto Colom hope to probe the mind of Neanderthal man, who ranged across Eurasia from about 400,000 years ago through 40,000 years ago but now survives only in small percentages of the genome of the much larger modern human population. From detailed studies, Bruner and Colom conclude: This work proposes evolutionary changes in attention associated…

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Mobilna nawigacja GPS na tablecie.

Lawmakers to Google Maps: Leave Crisis Pregnancy Centers Alone!

Seventeen state attorneys’ general have warned Google not to alter map search results in response to abortion activists’ demands

Recently, abortion activists were demanding that Google Maps crack down on crisis pregnancy centers that offer help other than abortion. In response, a group of 17 state attorneys general led by Texas Attorney-General Ken Paxton sent a letter dated July 21, asking Google to “advise the co-signing Attorneys General whether it has adjusted its search results and advertisements to discriminate against crisis pregnancy centers, and if so, how.” It reads in part, Unfortunately, several national politicians now seek to wield Google’s immense market power by pressuring the company to discriminate against pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in Google search results, in online advertising, and in its other products, such as Google Maps. As the chief legal officers of our respective States,…

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Hand holding mobile smart phone, with notification icons and city background

Facebook Blinks: No Longer Wants to Censor COVID “Misinformation”

Global Affairs President Nick Clegg has revealed that Facebook is seeking the guidance of its Oversight Board about removing “false claims”

Citing the view that the COVID-19 pandemic has “evolved,” Meta, Facebook’s parent company, is deciding whether to continue removing “misinformation” about the pandemic from the platform: Meta has asked the company’s Oversight Board, which is funded by Meta but operates independently, to decide whether removing “false claims about masks, social distancing and vaccines” on Facebook is still appropriate as “countries around the world seek to return to more normal life,” Meta’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, said Tuesday in a blog post. Sherri Walsh, “Facebook parent Meta to reconsider removing COVID-19 misinformation” at UPI (July 26, 2022) The U.S. government had put a lot of pressure on Meta, as UPI notes, and Facebook removed 25 million items of information.…

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Search.

Life Beyond Google Search: Try the Other Search Engines

Recently, DuckDuckGo was found to be tracking users sometimes, due to a deal with Microsoft. No matter, there are many search engines now…

Search engine DuckDuckGo — famous for not tracking users — lost some favor recently, after its CEO had to admit that it does sometimes track users: Security researcher Zack Edwards this week revealed that DuckDuckGo’s mobile browsers allow some Microsoft sites to bypass its block on trackers. While the browser blocks Facebook and Google trackers, DuckDuckGo makes an exception for some of Microsoft’s. Edwards found that the browsers allow allows data to be sent to Microsoft’s LinkedIn and Bing domains DuckDuckGo said the exemption was due to a search agreement with Microsoft. Thomas Macaulay, “DuckDuckGo faces widespread backlash over tracking deal with Microsoft” at The NextWebMay 26, 2022 DuckDuckGo’s CEO Gabriel Weinberg pointed out to disappointed users that the company…

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Amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's disease

Trust in Science? Fraud Now Claimed re Key Alzheimer Paper

Autism and COVID-19 research have also been marred by misrepresentation, raising issues about what “trust in science” should mean

[This article is republished with permission from The Epoch Times (July 26, 2022) where it appeared under the title “Scientists Are Destroying Our Trust in Science.”] A just-published exposé in the journal Science claims that a seminal study on the causes of Alzheimer’s disease may contain falsified data. The 2006 report concluded that Alzheimer’s is caused by a buildup of a certain type of plaque in the brain—a finding that has guided research into cures for Alzheimer’s ever since. But now, critics claim that the original authors “appeared to have composed figures by piecing together parts of photos from different experiments” calling their conclusions into significant question. If true, this is a scientific scandal of the worst order. As the Science article…

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Three friendly happy playing dogs in summer park. German shepherd, american staffordshire terrier and french bulldog holding one stick. Different dog breeds have fun together.

Claim: We’ve Shown That Dogs Can Form “Abstract Concepts”

It’s a good idea to be skeptical when any such claim is followed up with the assertion that humans “aren’t that cognitively unique after all.”

University of Buffalo researchers reported recently on a study of three pet dogs known to them that they had taught to “ponder their past”: Dogs are capable of learning the instruction “do that again,” and can flexibly access memories of their own recent actions—cognitive abilities they were not known to possess, according to the results of a recent University at Buffalo study. “We found that dogs could be trained to repeat specific actions on cue, and then take what they’d learned and apply it to actions they had never been asked to repeat,” says Allison Scagel, Ph.D., the study’s corresponding author, who was a UB graduate student in the Department of Psychology at the time of the research. “Our findings…

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boy standing on the opened book and looking at other books floating in the air, digital art style, illustration painting

Can a Computer Write Your novel? Well, What Do You Want To Say?

These tools are sure to become a staple in the hot and time-sensitive market for boutique formula fiction

Jennifer Lepp was behind schedule with her latest detective novel, Bring Your Beach Owl (2022), featuring a detective witch in central Florida. Through Kindle Direct, under the pen name of Leanne Leeds, Lepp independently publishes what she calls “potato chip books”, making over US$100k annually. Amazon creates “microclimates” for readers so that genre writers can tailor their work precisely to a market, as she does: “paranormal cozy mystery.” But it’s a business where deadlines matter. Readers have many other choices. As Josh Dzieza tells it at The Verge, Lepp begged developers for a beta test of Sudowrite, aimed at fiction writers. It’s one of the programs created from OpenAI’s language generator GPT-3: Authors paste what they’ve written into a soothing…

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Bitcoin and cryptomoney

Just As Cryptocurrencies Went Mainstream — a Huge Collapse!

A central weakness is that investors must go through exchanges which have none of the safeguards established for the blockchain itself

The cryptocurrency markets have been in total upheaval for the last several months. The blowup essentially started when the stablecoin UST (provided by Terra) suddenly lost its peg to the US dollar. A stablecoin is supposed to maintain a 1:1 trading match to an underlying currency, so 1 UST is supposed to be worth $1. Most trading in crypto is trades between stablecoins and other coins rather than actual cash transactions using stablecoins. Due to some unforeseen (but not necessarily unforeseeable) issues, UST lost its peg; between May and June its value dropped from $1 to just over two pennies. This near erasure of value affected Terra’s other cryptocurrency, LUNA, which dropped from $80 to effectively zero over the same…

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cyber bullying concept. people using notebook computer laptop for social media interactions with notification icons of hate speech and mean comment in social network

Social Media Can Literally Kill. It Killed Cheslie Chryst

Chryst’s suicide — and Constant Wu’s thwarted attempt — spotlight the toxic cyberbullying that is intrinsic to Big Tech’s formula for success

[This article is republished with permission from the New York Post (July 23, 2022) where it appeared under the title “Constance Wu’s suicide tweet proves social media can mean life or death.”] “Looking back, it’s surreal that a few DMs convinced me to end my own life, but that’s what happened.”  Last week, actress Constance Wu confessed on Twitter that she had tried to take her own life after she made “careless tweets” about the renewal of her TV show, ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat,” in May 2019. “So upset right now that I’m literally crying,” she had posted about the show’s renewal, which had forced her to give up another project she was passionate about. As would be expected on a public…