Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive September 2022

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Hearing loss problem, Asian old man with hand on ear gesture trying to listen shouting woman, Aging senior decline in hearing ability, Elderly health problems concept.

Surprise Finding About Human Hearing

It turns out, many cells send information to the brain, not just a few

Hearing loss may not be as certain as we think: For the past 100 years, we have believed that each sensory cell has its own “optimal frequency” (a measure of the number of sound waves per second). The hair cell responds most strongly to this frequency. This idea means that a sensory cell with an optimal frequency of 1000 Hz would respond much less strongly to sounds with a frequency slightly lower or higher. It has also been assumed that all parts of the cochlea work in the same way. Now, however, a research team has discovered that this is not the case for sensory cells that process sound with frequencies under 1000 Hz, considered to be low-frequency sound. The…

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Expressive black man with microphone. Stand-up comedian on night background. Comedy show on local television. Old funny story.

Is Dilbert part of a much bigger Cancel?

Humor consists largely in identifying the difference between our aspirations and our achievements

People who love workplace comedy might be surprised to learn that Dilbert has been Canceled by many U.S. newspapers, whose editor are morally outraged Comedy is one of the great casualties of wokeness. Comedians now have to navigate an ever expanding list of taboo subjects and forbidden targets. Superstar comedians like Dave Chappelle and Ricky Gervais stand accused of ‘punching down’ for mocking woke absurdities. Beloved characters in The Simpsons and even the knowingly offensive Family Guy have been altered following the charge of ‘cultural appropriation’. Meanwhile, many TV sketch shows and satirical programmes seem to have given up on telling jokes entirely, swapping humour for sermonising and ‘clapter’ comedy. So, is comedy doomed? Or is there hope outside of…

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megaphone wrapped in barbed wire. the concept of banning freedom of speech. censorship barbed wire megaphone

The Courts: May Social Media Censor Speech and Ban Users?

Two federal appeals courts came down on opposite sides. Hear the story

May Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube censor your posts and ban you from using their social media platforms? May a state government require large social media platforms to allow users and posts to present lawful information, ideas, and viewpoints with which the platforms disagree? Florida and Texas both enacted laws to restrict platforms from censoring and banning users whose content the platforms disliked. Two different federal appeals courts in 2022 ruled on whether these two states’ laws were constitutional — and came out on opposite sides. The following three scenarios frame the key issues. Scenario A: Commercial Ground Transportation A fellow boards a private company-owned, regularly scheduled commercial bus bound for Berkeley, California, wearing a T-shirt proclaiming in big letters: Save…

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Sea soul. Abstract marine backgrounds with sun beam and underwater landscape

Why should we believe that the human mind is immortal?

Philosopher Moreland: Think of the soul like a chest of drawers and think of the mind and the spirit like two drawers in the chest of drawers

Philosopher J. P. Moreland offers some thoughts at Closer to Truth (September 14, 2022) J.P. Moreland: (1:49) Think of the soul like a chest of drawers and think of the mind and the spirit like two drawers in the chest of drawers. I am a soul I’m an immaterial substance. Within me are different faculties, different ranges of powers or abilities. My mind is a faculty of the soul. My spirit is a different faculty of the soul. Now, you can’t separate my mind from my soul like you can [separate] the legs of a table and put them in different places. So the legs of a table would be called “separable parts.” They can be separated from the whole…

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Ottawa freedom sign

Big Tech Censors Worldwide — Yet It Isn’t a Government

Censorship has gone private and is thus much harder to detect and address

Do we even know what Big Tech censors or why? Sometimes its choices matters as in the COVID-19 controversies: One warm weekend in October of 2020, three impeccably credentialed epidemiologists—Jayanta Bhattacharya, Sunetra Gupta, and Martin Kulldorff, of Stanford, Oxford, and Harvard Universities respectively—gathered with a few journalists, writers, and economists at an estate in the Berkshires where the American Institute for Economic Research had brought together critics of lockdowns and other COVID-related government restrictions. On Sunday morning shortly before the guests departed, the scientists encapsulated their views—that lockdowns do more harm than good, and that resources should be devoted to protecting the vulnerable rather than shutting society down—in a joint communique dubbed the “Great Barrington Declaration,” after the town in…

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A young man with a pistol gun is standing in front of a high school preparing to go inside and commit a horrible violent mass murder shooting.

Why AI Could (But May Not) Predict School Shootings

There is no solution that is not run through natural intelligence, computer science prof Robert J. Marks explains

In recent weeks, WBC director Robert J. Marks has done a number of interviews for his new book, Non-Computable You: What You Do That Artificial Intelligence Never Will (Discovery Institute Press, 2022). At The Cat’s Roundtable, he was asked by host John Catsimatidis about the hype around AI and whether AI could, for example, predict school shootings. https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/09/Mind-Matters-205-Robert-J-Marks.mp3 Robert J. Marks: It’ll continue doing great and exciting things, but there’s a lot of hype associated with it. People think, “Well, is the Terminator going to come alive? Are we ever going to face a scenario like we see in The Matrix?” And the answer is, “No. There are certain brick walls, which artificial intelligence will never go through,” and we…

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An advanced CPU printed with a flag of USA on a neon glowing electronic circuit board. Illustration of the concept of United States made high-end micro chips.

What Difference Has the CHIPS Act Made to the U.S. and Taiwan?

We need to first look at the broader picture of what the CHIPS Act is intended to do

In a previous article, I discussed the semiconductor industry and Taiwan’s supremacy in manufacturing microchips, the foundry portion of the semiconductor supply chain. Now let’s look at the U.S. perspective on the semiconductor industry and its relationship to Taiwan. In order to do that, we have to talk about the CHIPS+ Act Congress passed a bipartisan bill, the CHIPS and Science Act in July, after a year of negotiations in committee. President Biden signed the act into law on August 9 and the CHIPS Act Implementation Strategy was launched on September 6 through an executive order. CHIPS, or “Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors,” is a $250B initiative that incentivizes businesses to bring semiconductor manufacturing, research and innovation back to…

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Group of IT experts

At COSM 2022, Blake Lemoine Faces Computer Engineers

… not talk show hosts… about his claim that chatbot LaMDA is a real person. Venture capitalist Matt McIlwain hosts the panel

Matt McIlwain, managing director of Madrona Venture Group a venture capital consortium, will be moderating a most interesting panel at COSM 2022: It includes ex-Googler Blake Lemoine — yes, he’s the one who started the global uproar around that Google chatbot LaMDA, which he claims is a real person. Google HQ didn’t agree… which is why he no longer works there. But is that because it is not true or because it is not popular? What Lemoine believes is still definitely out there. The main point: On McIlwain’s panel, Lemoine will be facing off against Baylor University pioneer in swarm intelligence Robert J. Marks and with George Montañez, an up-and-coming machine learning pro at Harvey Mudd College. Can he convince…

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Crypto currency background with various of shiny silver and golden physical cryptocurrencies symbol coins, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, zcash, ripple

Is Cryptocurrency Part of the Overall Future of Money?

Experts clash over whether crypto could replace government-issued currency

Recent discussions between WBC director Robert J. Marks and fellow engineers raise a question: Could new technology enable a global private currency to compete with government currencies? While the fact is not always evident in the Western world, government currencies depend on the stability of the government. Stories about people using discredited government banknotes to warm themselves, etc., are not fiction. And today what about the unbanked billions of the world who work and create value but do not have access to financial institutions? So in, for example, a national emergency, would cryptocurrency be any help? The option of private electronic currency is comparatively new and, as we might expect, expert views differ. We present them for your reflection (not…

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hope, freedom, life, different, contrast concept, blue sky human with broken human, surreal and fantasy artwork, conceptual art, painting illustration, sadness and depression idea

Making Art Is Uniquely Human

While the architects of AI "art" tools like to think their technology can replace human creativity, the artistic impulse is uniquely human

In my last post, I wrote about a novelist who used a version of the AI art tool known as Stable Diffusion to gather images for a promotional website. She wanted erotic and violent elements in the artwork and found that other AI art tools included “guardrails” limiting access to graphic results. But if these images are disconnected from a human, imaginative process, can we say AI-generated results qualify as creative works? Artificial intelligence doesn’t only challenge our notions of what it means to be human. It also makes us wonder what it means to make art and whether human beings are the only agents capable of creating it. Walter Kirn addressed this question poignantly in a Substack essay.  Kirn…

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Concept of employee monitoring by boss

Why AI Employee Tracking Can’t Build a Great Company

Employees, knowing that an AI is tracking them, start filling in boxes instead of creating or innovating for success

Earlier this year, we learned about the best employee tracking software for 2022. (The Head Office can know if you went to the washroom or phoned your dog’s vet … ) Not everyone thinks that total surveillance by management is the best way to get optimum performance: But technology is not a replacement for what good managers do. They pull disparate groups of people together and build camaraderie, share a vision, grow trust, and—over time—create cohesive teams that achieve big goals. They get to know their team members individually and work carefully to set expectations, be supportive, understand context, and give feedback and direction. They take into account the nuance of uniqueness, inherent both in the person and in the…

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Scientists testing in lab.

Will AI Really Change Drug Development? Not So Fast…

Jeffrey Funk and Gary N. Smith note that AI was not significant in the development of COVID vaccines. Financial incentives ruled

Something to know before you invest or entertain high hopes: Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith published a recent article in Salon that offers a free cold shower. Some realities they cite: Most of the expense of drug development is in clinical trials on human beings, which can’t be automated. Any attempt to save time or money would come at identifiable costs in accuracy. Yes, COVID vaccines were a banner achievement for speedy drug development. But AI played little or no standout role in the process: Determined to get a COVID-19 vaccine to the public before the November 3, 2020, presidential election, the U.S. government devoted $14 billion to support the pharmaceutical companies’ vaccine efforts. The government agreed to pay Pfizer…

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Young attractive handicapped beauty blogger is filming video with smartphone at home.

Reality Check: Can Bionic Hands Really Compete With Nature?

A geographer born without a left forearm offers an honest assessment of the “bionic hand” arms race

The author of a recent article in IEEE Spectrum was born without a left forearm so she can talk about the tech reality of prostheses from the front lines: Today, the people who design prostheses tend to be well-intentioned engineers rather than amputees themselves. The fleshy stumps of the world act as repositories for these designers’ dreams of a high-tech, superhuman future. I know this because throughout my life I have been fitted with some of the most cutting-edge prosthetic devices on the market. After being born missing my left forearm, I was one of the first cohorts of infants in the United States to be fitted with a myoelectric prosthetic hand, an electronic device controlled by the wearer’s muscles…

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Can Panpsychism Save Naturalism From Itself?

Panpsychism can be seen as an effort to save naturalism by acknowledging the reality of the mind while insisting that the mind is wholly natural

This article is an excerpt of one that originally appeared in Salvo 61 (Summer 2022), under the title “Everything is Conscious? Panpsychism goes mainstream.” Panpsychism — the view that all of the universe participates in consciousness, which is most fully developed in humans — has been gaining popularity in science in recent years. Does that sound unbelievable? Is not science committed wholly to materialism and nothing but materialism? Will consciousness not soon be “explained” by an accidental glitch in brain wiring that natural selection retained? Science doesn’t seem nearly as committed to that view just now. A 2018 article at Quartz by Olivia Goldhill was titled “The idea that everything from spoons to stones is conscious is gaining academic credibility.”…

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Blockchain blocks and their hexadecimal hash values conceptual vizualization 3D render

Modern Bitcoin’s Surprising Lesson About Ancient Scripture

It turns out there’s a striking parallel between the historical record of scripture and the blockchain ledger

This article was published in The Stream (September 13, 2022) and is republished with permission. Can we trust the authenticity of the New Testament scriptures? Trust is foundational in the acceptance of scripture. There’s an interesting lesson to learn from a very modern system of trust: money. Even Bitcoin, believe it or not. An Exchange of Trust We’ll start with old-fashioned familiar money. Why is a twenty dollar bill worth $20? It’s just a small sheet of paper, after all. The answer is trust. We trust the piece of paper has value because its worth is backed by the United States government. We also trust that Walmart will give us $20 worth of Doritos if we give them a twenty…

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Big bang explosion in space

Webb Telescope Builders “Are Questioning Previous Science”

In an interview at Futurism, Webb astronomer Garth Illingworth shares how the new findings are shaking up what we think we know about the universe

Futurism’s Maggie Harrison recently interviewed UC Santa Cruz astronomer Garth Illingworth, one of the developers of the James Webb Space Telescope. His observations put the astronomers’ astonishment at the unexpected new findings of very old, developed galaxies in perspective: And I would just say, you know, when I was sitting there watching the first images, I was just blown away by their beauty and the character there, the information. But one of the things I was thinking afterwards was: in that hour, I saw, like, six sets of data. I have to say, that’s more data than I’ve ever seen from anything in any sort of reasonable time period in my whole life. Scientists are going to be working on…

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Enceladus

News From the Search for Extraterrestrial Life 6

China has found evidence for an ancient ocean on Mars and an international research teams reports that the number of dried-up lakes is higher than thought

Noting the passing earlier this month of Frank Drake, author of the famous Drake Equation, planetary geoscientist David Rothery notes, we know a great deal more promising information about the search for life today than we did in 1961 when he first formulated the equation: “We are learning more about exoplanets every year, and are entering an era when measuring their atmospheric composition to reveal evidence of life is becoming increasingly feasible. Within the next decade or two, we can hope for a much more soundly based estimate of the fraction of Earth-like planets where life gets started.” – The Conversation, September 5, 2022. We also know about potentially habitable moons now (for example, Enceladus, whose image is featured above).…

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Once more unto the breach / 3D illustration of science fiction scene with robot general holding battle hammer rallying his android troops under a stormy dark sky

Oh, Not This Again: “AI Will Rise Up and Destroy Mankind”

The advances of AI raise a number of issues, yes. But the intelligences behind these advances are not artificial at all

A new paper from researchers at Oxford University and Google’s Deepmind prophesies that “the threat of AI is greater than previously believed. It’s so great, in fact, that artificial intelligence is likely to one day rise up and annihilate humankind … Cohen says the conditions the researchers identified show that the possibility of a threatening conclusion is stronger than in any previous publication.” (MSN, September 15, 2022) How? Why? The research paper predicted life on Earth turning into a zero-sum game between humans and the super-advanced machinery. Michael K. Cohen, a co-author of the study, spoke about their paper during an interview. In a world with infinite resources, I would be extremely uncertain about what would happen. In a world…

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Abandoned railway tracks in the desert, Namibia

The MacGuffin: Big Fuss About Nothing Is Not Good Science Fiction

A MacGuffin creates a lot of action but doesn’t in any way advance the plot

As with Time Travel, the MacGuffin plot risk comes in a variety of flavors. People bicker about the term, but Alfred Hitchcock (1863–1942) summarized the gist of it: A MacGuffin is “the thing the characters on the screen worry about but the audience don’t care.” The MacGuffin creates a lot of action but doesn’t in any way advance the plot. The action is not the problem. If the item contributes to the plot in a significant way — the One Ring from Lord of the Rings or the Dragon Balls from the Dragon Ball Series, for example — then it isn’t a MacGuffin. But if the item is inert and chased mainly because the characters want it, then it is…

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Backgrounds of Characteristics and Different shaped Colony of Bacteria and Mold growing on agar plates from Soil samples for education in Microbiology laboratory.

Bacterial Growth Patterns Can Spell Out Our Inmost Thoughts

Crazy? No. Researchers reduced them to an alphabet and you can test it for yourself

Biomedical engineers at Duke University have created an encoder/decoder using bacterial growth patterns. Because such growth patterns tend to be regular, they can be reduced to an encoding scheme they call “emorfi”: The encoding is not one-to-one, as the final simulated pattern corresponding to each letter is not exactly the same every time. However, the researchers discovered that a machine learning program could learn to distinguish between them to recognize the letter intended. Ken Kingery, Duke University, “An AI message decoder based on bacterial growth patterns” at Phys.org (September 23, 2022) The paper requires a fee or subscription. Go here to see how it works and test it yourself. We tried it with “Bacterial growth patterns can spell out your…