Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive July 2022

Abstract background architecture lines. modern architecture detail

3. In Infinity, Lines and Squares Have an Equal Number of Points

We can demonstrate this fact with a simple diagram

In previous posts, we have established that two sets are of the same size if there is a one-to-one correspondence between the elements of both sets. Applying this principle to Cantor’s theory of infinity leads us to the weird but valid conclusion that the number of points on a line segment is the same as the number of points in a square. To show that this is true, here is a picture of a unit length line segment and a unit square. Let’s choose a point on the line segment. Let’s say 0.6917381276543… . It’s shown with a big blue dot on the line segment on the left. If this point corresponds to an irrational number, it goes on forever Read More ›

Cute curious cat looking into fridge

Can We Eliminate the Idea of Function From the Study of Life?

The question is, can biology journals take away what they did not give, without harming their own enterprise?

We tend to assume that our values come in part from the careers we follow. Often, that’s true. If a given mindset works well at work, we may try it at home. But that process can work in reverse. We can start with a mindset and try to graft it onto our work. With mixed results. That seems to have happened in some quarters in biology. For example, the term “function” in life forms is linked historically with the idea that life forms show evidence of design. Therefore, philosopher Emmanuel Ratti and molecular biologist Pierre-Luc Germain argue, biologists shouldn’t use it: The notion of biological function is fraught with difficulties — intrinsically and irremediably so, we argue. The physiological practice Read More ›

little bird flying out of bird cage, think outside the box

Why Free Will Is Philosophically and Scientifically Sound

As Michael Egnor points out in a recent podcast, it has been nearly a century since determinism was toppled in physics

In “Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor: Humans Have Free Will” a recent podcast at ID the Future, geoscientist Casey Luskin discussed science-based arguments against free will with neurosurgeon Michael Egnor (13:05 min). Are these arguments a serious challenge or are they just wishful thinking on the part of materialists? Here’s a partial transcript: Casey Luskin: Now I want to continue our conversation, Dr. Egnor, from the previous podcast, where we were talking about your debates on evolution news and views, responding to Dr. Jerry Coyne, the well known evolutionary biologist from the University of Chicago. Coyne is what you might call an honest atheist in that he’s willing to admit the implications that atheism and Darwinian materialism have for concepts like free Read More ›

Big Bang in Space, The Birth of the Universe 3d illustration

2. Infinity Illustrates That the Universe Has a Beginning

The logical consequences of a literally infinite past are absurd, as a simple illustration will show

The size of a set is how many elements it contains. The set of letters {A,B,C} and the set of girls {Shirley, Goodness, Mercy} both have a cardinality of three. In a previous post, we showed that the infinities of counting numbers and even numbers are the same. Many subsets of the counting numbers have the same infinite size as the counting numbers. For example, consider the counting numbers and the set of numbers divisible by 10. and The size of the two sets is the same if there is a one-to-one mapping from one set to another. Here, 1 maps to 10, 2 maps to 20, 3 to 30, etc. This continues forever. The two sets are the same Read More ›

Parasaurolophus in the Forest - Two Parasaurolophus dinosaurs browse on foliage of the Montezuma Cypress tree as Cronopia mammals scrurry to safety.

Where We Stand Today With Jurassic Park

There have been a number of unexpected finds of from dinosaurs besides bones; some paleontologists dig hopefully

The recent find of a complete, well-preserved baby mammoth was greeted with gasps: She’s over 30,000 years old, and yet her preservation is astounding: She has her skin, her tiny tusk nubs, her toenails, and her little tail. She still has tufts of fur, and her trunk—with its prehensile tip—is complete and malleable. Looking at the initial photograph from where she was found at a Yukon gold mine, she looks like she only recently met her demise. Jeanne Timmons, “‘Gasps’ as Scientists Reveal Preserved Baby Woolly Mammoth” at Gizmodo (July 2, 2022) It’s easy to see why: And the find naturally renews questions about resurrecting much, much older extinct life forms through via recovered DNA. Never mind whether it’s a Read More ›

Face in multiverse

Dr. Strange: Can the Multiverse Really Work as a Plot Device?

That’s a question Disney's Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness begs us to ask — though but the screenwriters’ answer might be disturbing

Before reviewing the movie in detail, I wound up writing this little prelude regarding the problem with the multiverse plot device in general. It spilled onto the page before I could stop it but then other viewers might be asking some of these same questions. Disney, or as I like to refer to this hell-spawn of a company, the Mouse, is at it again. Where is the Pied Piper when you need him? There are many bad movies in the world, but very rarely does one deserve the term, cinematic abomination. The last time I used that loathsome title, I was watching Luke Skywalker suck green milk from an alien walrus. What is the common factor between The Last Jedi Read More ›

Full body gold dragon in infinity shape pose with 3d rendering include alpha path.

1. Why Infinity Does Not Exist in Reality

A few examples will show the absurd results that come from assuming that infinity exists in the world around us as it does in math

Does infinity exist in reality? There are, surprisingly, scientists who think infinity is a possibility even though they are unable to point to any example of infinity in reality. The great mathematician David Hilbert claimed that “the infinite is nowhere to be found in reality.” Nevertheless, the mathematical theory of infinity developed by Georg Cantor is beautiful. Hilbert was in awe of Cantor’s beautiful theory and said “No one shall drive us from the paradise which Cantor has created for us.” An assumption of the infinite leads to weird counterintuitive results. In this and the following four articles, various ludicrous properties of the infinite are explored. We’ll see, for example, that the entire Library of Congress is encoded somewhere in almost every Read More ›

Old lonely woman sitting near the window in his house.

Is a Robot Pal Really a Solution to Old Age Loneliness?

New York State is buying a companion bot called ElliQ in a pilot project that is likely among the first of a trend

New York State is buying 800 ElliQ robots from Israeli firm Intuition Robotics to help seniors cope with the familiar problem of loneliness — which worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic: ElliQ, a tabletop device that resembles a virtual assistant like Alexa or Siri, can make small talk, answer questions, remind users to take medication, help contact friends and family, initiate conversation and help with other daily activities. Users interact with the robot an average of 20 times per day, according to the company. Margaret Osborne, “New York State Purchases Robot Companions for the Elderly” at Smithsonian Magazine (June 22, 2022) Greg Olsen, director of the state’s Office for the Aging, says that seniors accept new technology like the ElliQ model Read More ›

Tiananmen Square surveillance
Surveillance cameras at Tiananmen square in Beijing, China

China Is Quite Serious About Total Surveillance of Every Citizen

Local governments are buying enough surveillance equipment to constantly watch 1.6 billion people, documents show

The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously… There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment… It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live — did live, from habit that became instinct — in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinised. – George Orwell, 1984 The New York Times in partnership with ChinaFile has come out with a new report on the extent of China’s surveillance state. It is nothing short of an attempt to achieve total surveillance of its 1.4 billion people: Read More ›