Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive August 2022

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These two are little genius . Mixed media

Why Breeding Smarter Humans Won’t Work: Basic Genetics 101

Biochemist Michael Denton explains that, in human genetics, everything is connected to everything else; geneticists call it pleiotropy

Recently, we looked at the question of whether human IQ could be artificially increased via genetic engineering. One proposal was to mass produce human embryos, implanting only the smart ones and discarding the rest. All other issues aside, it’s unclear how to determine which kids will turn out to be the smart ones. Now biochemist Michael Denton, author of a number of books including the recent Miracle of Man (2022), writes to tell us that the idea won’t work due to fundamental genetics. Noting that theoretical physicist Stephen Hsu, who advanced the idea of discarding embryos above, is not a medical geneticist, he told Mind Matters News, Its true there are many genes involved in brain development but most genes…

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Information field around the Earth

Musk’s Starlink Tied to Traffic Chaos in Orbit and on Earth

If nothing else, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has brought public attention to the future of space, who it belongs to, and how it is paid for

This week has seen quite a struggle for Elon Musk’s SpaceX and its satellite-based internet service Starlink. SpaceX had recently pocketed some interesting wins for Starlink. Its offer to keep Ukrainians online in the midst of the recent crisis earned Starlink favor in the eyes of both the military and Eastern European nations. It has also started launching operations in Latin America. Just days ago SpaceX performed its 35th launch of the year, adding 52 more Starlink satellites. However, Starlink has also faced a number recent headwinds which could spell trouble for the service. While its public beta test performed well for many users, as the service has expanded, the capabilities of the network appear to be stretched. Despite promises…

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Spanish jumping spider Saitis barbipes with fruit fly

Yes, Spiders Dream — But That Doesn’t Make Them Leggy People

We don’t know where on the tree of life “mind,” in the most basic sense, begins. It might include bacteria but not viruses

A recent research article from Germany, which has made quite a splash in the popular press, raises some very interesting questions about animal minds. Animal behaviorist Daniela C. Rößler and co-authors studied 34 young spiders while they slept and found that their eye movements seemed analogous to the eye movements of human beings and other higher animals that occur during REM sleep and are associated with dreaming. They pointed out that this seems to suggest that arachnids may have mental states and dreams that are more akin to those of human beings then previously thought. The article, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is open access. The research is fascinating in its own right but I…

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Peek-a-boo bee close up

What Does It Mean To Say Bees “Feel and Think”?

The New Scientist reviewer is unsure that we are ready for such a radical message. Unsure? At one time, it would have been branded “NOT science!”

Behavioral ecologist Lars Chittka’s book, The Mind of a Bee (Princeton University Press, 2022), is a fascinating detailed description of bee behavior that will cure us of believing that the insect world is devoid of intelligence or sensation. Indeed, in a 2018 essay with Catherine Wilson, Chittka offers many research findings in a shorter format. It’s only in Chapter 11, toward the book’s end, that he makes a controversial claim: From the very start, early in evolution, nervous systems were inseparable from movable bodies with sensors, and developed in order to integrate perception and action. The challenges of survival and self-replication (reproduction) that a moving organism faces are most efficiently met when brain and body are intimately connected, enabling the…

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Social media concept. Corona virus fake news concept. Scale on red background

Why Misinformation Comes From the Top as Well as the Bottom

At Big Think, Cameron English asks us to look at the incentives for academic scientists to publish questionable research that gains widespread attention.

Cameron English, Director of Bio-Sciences at American Council on Science and Health, offers a useful take on the need felt by some in power to crack down on Misinformation: The uncomfortable truth is that academic scientists routinely publish questionable research that attracts widespread media attention, adding to the morass of “inaccurate information” circulating online. If we want to get this problem under control, we need our trusted sources to quit releasing untrustworthy information. Cameron English, “‘Trusted’ Sources Spread Anti-Science Nonsense, Too” at Big Think (August 4, 2022) But the fact is, untrustworthy information pays: It is true that researchers live and die by their grants; they either “publish or perish,” as the old saying goes. Often, that means academic scientists…

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Internet law concept

US Federal court rules: Machines do not “invent” things

Evidently, Stephen Thaler’s aim was to get the patent office to recognize that an AI system can invent things all by itself

Check out this headline from lawandcrime.com: Federal Appellate Court Rules AI Systems Cannot Be “Inventors” Because They Are Not Human. Notice the angle: framing a battle between machines and homo sapiens, pitting human intelligence against artificial intelligence. The article’s first sentence spotlights the center attraction, stating: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled Friday [Aug. 5, 2022] that artificial intelligence or “AI” systems cannot patent their inventions because they are not “natural people.” Here the Law and Crime article subtly inserts two key beliefs: (1) that AI systems can in fact invent things all by themselves; and (2) that AI systems physically can “patent their inventions.” The sentence thus implies that the human-centric court unfairly blocked them.…

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Analyst working with computer in Business Analytics and Data Management System to make report with KPI and metrics connected to database. Corporate strategy for finance, operations, sales, marketing..

The machine is not talking to you. You are talking to yourself.

At Futurism, Maggie Harrison discusses the reasons humans decide that AI is “alive.”

Maggie Harrison, a staff writer for Futurism, offers a no-nonsense talk to those who believe in the humanity of the chatbot LaMDA, as announced in June by Google software engineer Blake Lemoine: First, she notes, the idea isn’t even uncommon among software engineers: As Cade Metz wrote for The New York Times, many in the AI industry hold beliefs similar to Lemoine’s. One prominent inventor, Philip Bosua, told the Times he believes OpenAI’s GPT-3 (another language modeling system like Google’s LaMDA) is also sentient. Yet another said that though he think’s GPT-3 intelligence is somewhat “alien,” it “still counts.” There’s a clear, wide gap there between those who think the machine is alive, and the simple computer science backing those…

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Deepfakes

A Novel Trick for Detecting Deepfakes: A Sideways View

The average person doesn’t have many profile pictures so a sideways view may well blur out, revealing the fakery. But that’s just a first step…

Tech writer Martin Anderson offers a simple trick to detect deepfakes in video calls: Ask the caller to turn sideways: DeepFaceLive is a live-streaming version of the popular DeepFaceLab software, and is capable of creating alternate video identities in real-time. From more or less face-on viewpoints, most of the celebrity recreations are quite effective, and some are very convincing even at fairly acute angles – until the facial angle hits a full 90°.ry good at recreating profile views. Martin Anderson, “To Uncover a Deepfake Video Call, Ask the Caller to Turn Sideways” at Metaphysic (August 8, 2022) Then, as his examples at the site show, the possibly convincing face fuzzes out. He thinks that computer security analysts have overlooked this…

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vehicles on road during daytime

Overcrowded and Chaotic Lagos Is Becoming Africa’s Silicon Valley

Welcome to Yabacon Valley! Mathew Otieno is your tour guide.

This piece by Mathew Otieno originally appeared at MercatorNet (August 7, 2022) and is republished here under a Creative Commons License. Flutterwave is an online payment infrastructure provider headquartered in San Francisco. Its customers include global giants like Uber and Microsoft and tiny local start-ups. In 2021, five years after it was founded, Flutterwave became a unicorn (valued at over a billion dollars). In early 2022, a series D funding round of US$250 million brought that value to $3 billion dollars. If things go well, it plans to IPO within the next two years. Impressive, right? But the most impressive part is that Flutterwave isn’t an American company. It was founded in Lagos by three Nigerians, and its biggest markets…

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Surreal 3d illustration of multiple faces in a wall. Concept of post-human and transhumanism ideas.

Epitaph for Transhumanism: But It’s Far From Dead!, Advocate Says

George Dvorsky embraced it as a religion but he sees public interest waning amid growing criticism of Big Tech’s side effects

Oxford University transhumanist Elise Bohan finds the benefits of transhumanism (leaving the human body behind for a genetically engineered and largely AI future) easy to list: Ageing cured. Death conquered. Work ended. The human brain reverse-engineered by AI. Babies born outside of the womb. Virtual children, non-human partners. The future of humanity could be virtually unrecognisable by the end of the 21st century, according to Elise Bohan – and that’s if we get the transition right. If we get it wrong, well. Celina Ribeiro, “Beyond our ‘ape-brained meat sacks’: can transhumanism save our species?” at The Guardian (June 4, 2022) Bohan, author of Future Superhuman: Our Transhuman Lives in a Make-or-Break Century (2022), is anxious to get on with new…

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black metal spiral staircase in grayscale photography

How AI Neural Networks Show That the Mind Is Not the Brain

A series of simple diagrams shows that, while AI learns faster than the human brain, the human mind tackles problems that stump AI

Recently, I’ve been arguing (here and here, for example) that we can use artificial neural networks (ANNs) to prove that the mind is not the brain. To recap, here is the logic of my argument: Premise A: neural networks can learn better than the brainPremise B: the human mind can learn better than a neural networkConclusion: the human mind can learn better than the brain, therefore it is not the brain This means if we can conclusively show the human mind can learn better than a neural network, then the mind is not the brain. For Premise A, I’ve argued that the differentiable neural network is a superior learning model compared to the brain neuron’s “all or nothing principle”. The…

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Sanger Sequencing. 3D illustration of a method of DNA sequencing.

If DNA Is a Language, Who Is the Speaker?

Philosopher Steve Meyer talks about the significance of Francis Crick’s sequence hypothesis that shows that DNA is literally a language of life

In a talk at the Dallas Conference on Science and Faith (2021), philosopher Steve Meyer looked at the question of whether a multiverse, as in Multiverse of Madness (2022), or God, as in many traditions is the origin of our universe. That is, is our universe designed — as considerable evidence suggests — or is ours just one of a few lucky universes whose extra-lucky conditions allow for advanced life? Dr. Meyer is the author of The Return of the God Hypothesis (Harper One, 2021) which argues that the evidence from science favors God over a multiverse. (Sample here.) In this first of four transcripts of the talk, he talks about how and why it matters to ordinary people which…

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Time in space. 3d rendering illustration

Did Physicists Open a Portal to Extra Time Dimension, As Claimed?

That’s the way the story reads at Scientific American. But experimental physicist Rob Sheldon says not so fast…

At Scientific American, we were told last month: “Physicists have devised a mind-bending error-correction technique that could dramatically boost the performance of quantum computers”: “It is very exciting to see this unusual phase of matter realized in an actual experiment, especially because the mathematical description is based on a theoretical ‘extra’ time dimension,” says team member Philipp Dumitrescu, who was at the Flatiron Institute in New York City when the experiments were carried out. A paper describing the work was published in Nature on July 20. Opening a portal to an extra time dimension—even just a theoretical one—sounds thrilling, but it was not the physicists’ original plan. “We were very much motivated to see what new types of phases could…

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2 UAPS / Ufos in the night sky at a beach. UFO UAP Sighting at night

NASA on UFOs: Not Nearly So Snarky Now. Here Are 3 Reasons Why

In the three decades since the discovery of the first exoplanets, science has gradually been overtaking science fiction

As noted recently at Scientific American, thinking about UFOs is no longer presumptive evidence of membership in the lunatic fringe: On June 9, with only a few hours’ notice, NASA held a press conference to announce a study it was commissioning on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs). The acronym is a rebranding of what are more popularly known as unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, a topic usually associated with purported extraterrestrial visitations and government conspiracy theories. The question on the public’s mind was why one of the U.S.’s premier scientific agencies was getting involved in something often considered to be at the farthest fringes of respectability. Adam Mann, “With New Study, NASA Seeks the Science behind UFOs” at Scientific American (August…

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Black hole bending the event horizon 3d

Dr. Strange Finds a Universe Almost Like the One He Left…

But, like Schrödinger’s famous Cat, he is alive in one universe and dead in another

In the Multiverse of Madness, where were we? Ah yes, Dr. Strange and America Chavez finally find themselves in the multiverse. They teleport through several universes until they land in a reality similar to their own. The first thing Strange wants to do is return to their reality, so he can save Wong, who is still trapped in the temple. However, America reminds him that she cannot control her powers, so they decide to visit the Dr. Strange of this world to see if they can find a way to help America. When they arrive at Strange’s home, they discover that the Dr. Strange of this world is dead. A monument to the fallen hero says he died defeating Thanos.…

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computer engineer working with laptop at cryptocurrency mining farm

What’s Really Happening With Bitcoin and Other Cryptos?

In the first part of this week’s podcast, “Web3: The next generation of the internet” (August 4, 2022), Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks talked with graduate student Adam Goad about Web3, the coming internet of more privacy on the one hand and a metaverse of avatars on the other. So, only as wild as you want it to be, maybe. Now, postdoc Austin Egbert joins the discussion as they continue with how, at worst, Web3 could be a bit like sci-fi film Ready Player One. (2018). Note: Re the metaverse, this week’s news reveals that Facebook executives are deserting Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse in droves: “ … recent retreats point to deeper turmoil inside Meta. Some suggest it lies…

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Old human skeleton in ancient tomb at archaeological excavation

Human Brain Shape Hardly Changed in 160,000 Years

Faces changed, yes, and researchers think diet may have played a role

The changes in human heads over the past 160,000 years were not driven by a changing brain, researchers say. It was the human face that changed, according to a recent article at New Scientist: Comparing the braincases of early modern human children with adults for the first time allowed the researchers to isolate the brain’s role in the evolution of the skull. The team was surprised to find that while the size and proportions of the skulls of H. sapiens children from 160,000 years ago were largely comparable to children today, the adults looked remarkably different to those of modern adults, with much longer faces and more pronounced features. Human faces continue to grow until the age of around 20,…

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Macro of a bumblebee collecting nectar on flower

Bees Feel Pain. And Therefore… Insect Rights?

As we learn more from research about how various life forms respond to experiences, a more complex picture may raise political issues

From an online newsletter from Vox writer Kenny Torrella, we learn of a research study confirming that bumblebees feel pain: In a study published last week in the journal PNAS, researchers in the United Kingdom found that bees make trade-offs about how much pain they’re willing to tolerate in order to get better food. The finding suggests bees aren’t just mindless automata responding to stimuli but rather conscious, feeling creatures that can experience pain and engage in complex decision-making. Kenny Torrella, “Can a bee feel,” Vox (August 5, 2022) The paper is open access. Essentially, the researchers offered bumblebees sugar water in color-cued unheated containers, at solutions of 10%, 20%, 30%, or 40%. Then they introduced a catch: They heated…

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Automotive Engineer Use Virtual Reality Headset for Virtual Electric Car 3D Model Design Analysis and Improvement. 3D Graphics Visualization Shows Fully Developed Vehicle Prototype Analysed Optimized

Why Don’t Some Tech Moguls Like Web3, the New Internet?

Web3 is a decentralized, less controlled version of the internet, as George Gilder predicted in Life After Google

In this week’s podcast, “Web3: The next generation of the internet” (August 4, 2022), Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviews graduate student Adam Goad and Dr. Austin Egbert, both in computer engineering at Baylor University, on the coming decentralization of the internet. With developments like the ones they discuss looming, Big Tech may be seeing a waistline trim. This is the Part I of the first of the three discussions. https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/08/Mind-Matters-198-Adam-Goad-Austin-Egbert.mp3 A partial transcript and Additional Resources follow. Dr. Marks began by discussing all the services he gets from Google, confessing that he has not needed to go to a library in over two decades. But… Robert J. Marks: Now, is Google just being nice in giving me…

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humanoid head as concept for Artificial Intelligence, future generations of humans, technology singularity, cyberlife and digitally created personas

Could We Really Increase Human IQ via Genetic Engineering?

One suggested approach is to only implant “intelligent” human embryos and discard the rest, to avoid editing individual genes

At Big Think, we have been told by the managing editor, in a tone of considerable confidence: Because intelligence is such a strong genetic trait, rapidly advancing genetics research could result in the ability to create a class of super-intelligent humans one-thousand times higher in IQ than today’s most brilliant thinkers. Stephen Hsu, Vice-President for Research and Professor of Theoretical Physics at Michigan State University, believes we are only a decade away from identifying the many thousands of genetic variants that control for intelligence. These variants, called alleles, could then be selected for by the parents of a soon-to-be-conceived child, and possibly genetic engineering could be done on adults to boost their intelligence. Orion Jones, “Genetic Engineering Will Create Super-Intelligent…