Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive October 2022

inspector checklist
Action of safety officer is writing on safety checklist document during safety audit and inspection, with factory workshop as blurred background. Industrial expertise occupation photo. Selective focus

Fact Checking as the New Censorship — Surer Than the Old Type

Apparently, Facebook has created a special portal for government to report “disinformation”

Did you know that the Disinformation Governance Board, supposedly shut down, never really died? It continues in more covert forms. From an article published today at The Intercept: Years of internal DHS memos, emails, and documents — obtained via leaks and an ongoing lawsuit, as well as public documents — illustrate an expansive effort by the agency to influence tech platforms… “Platforms have got to get comfortable with gov’t. It’s really interesting how hesitant they remain,” Microsoft executive Matt Masterson, a former DHS official, texted Jen Easterly, a DHS director, in February. Ken Klippenstein, Lee Fang, “Truth Cops” at The Intercept (October 31, 2022) We also learn that “Facebook created a special portal for DHS and government partners to report…

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réseaux sociaux

With Elon Musk as “Chief Twit,” a flurry of changes is expected

Musk hopes for a “common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence”

Well, Musk, carrying a kitchen sink, has assumed control of Twitter (it became official Thursday night): Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in! pic.twitter.com/D68z4K2wq7 — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 26, 2022 According to some, the world is tumbling over a cliff… Paul du Quenoy, president of the Palm Beach Freedom Institute was in a position to be at Twitter HQ at the time: Sullen employees entering the building during our visit had nothing to share. None made eye contact as they plodded by. Those who presented as female performed determined “take back the night” walks, delicately balancing cold avoidance with an unconvincing pretense of fearlessness. Musk seems to be following a methodical course as he reshapes social media, but…

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Teenage boy doing homework using computer sitting by desk in room alone

What Does AI in Education Mean for Critical Thinking Skills?

Students, as reported at Motherboard, are increasingly using GPT-3 and other text-generator programs to write essays for them

The COVID pandemic pushed a lot of school coursework to the internet, with an increased reliance on true/false and multiple-choice tests that can be taken online and graded quickly and conveniently. Not surprisingly, once questions went online, so did answers, with several companies posting (for a fee) solutions for students who would rather Google answers than watch Zoomed lectures. To fit into a true/false or multiple-choice format, the questions are generally little more than a recitation of definitions, facts, and calculations. Here, for example, are three statistics questions I found at a question/answer site: Question: True or false: A group of subjects selected from the group of all subjects under study is called a sample. Answer: True Question: You are…

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Intelligence artificielle

John Lennox: Transhumanism Versus Traditional Humans

In the second part of his bonus feature for Science Uprising, Oxford mathematician Lennox compares transhumanism with traditional claims to transcend humanity

In the second part of Oxford mathematician John Lennox’s bonus interview for the Science Uprising series, “John Lennox on the Transhumanist Claim AI Will Turn Humans into Gods” (October 17, 2022), Lennox talks about claims that we will merge with computers (artificial intelligence) to achieve immortality. How plausible is that? Lennox is the author of 2084:: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity (2020). A partial transcript and notes for the second half follow (the first half is here): The AI concept of transhumanism? (13:45) John Lennox: The origin of the word “transhumanism,” interestingly enough, is not secular at all. It wasn’t first used by a scientist but it was used in a translation of one of the books of…

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Nebula Milkyway and galaxies in space 3D

News From the Search for Extraterrestrial Life 11

One paper says the planets around Trappist-1 may be more habitable than first thought but another says that planets around M-stars may be less so…

Our universe: Three challenging ideas: A challenge to Newton’s laws of gravity: “An international team of astrophysicists has made a puzzling discovery while analyzing certain star clusters. The finding challenges Newton’s laws of gravity, the researchers write in their publication. Instead, the observations are consistent with the predictions of an alternative theory of gravity. However, this is controversial among experts.” – ScienceDaily (October 22, 2022) We know we are getting somewhere when we find out things we didn’t expect. The paper requires a fee or subscription. Is a new anomaly affecting the entire Universe? “The most puzzling, unexplained anomaly in all of cosmology is the Hubble tension: the difference in the measured expansion rate depending on which method is used.…

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Man with conceptual spiritual body art

The Orville Crew Sails Into Hallucinations From Deathless Beings

The ETs’ Big Message is: Ignore such labels as man, husband, captain, explorer because they are all irrelevant. Embrace loss of individuality and sculpt the cosmos!

As with Episode 2, Episode 3 of The Orville, Season 3, starts out with a great deal of promise only to completely fall apart at the end. However, I will say that — of all the episodes so far — the beginning of this story felt the most like Star Trek, in the sense that an anomaly shows up on the scanners, followed by a quirky scenario which promises a great deal of mystery to come. The crew detects a civilization on a planet that was previously understood to be desolate. Ed, Kelly, Talla, Bortus, and Gordon all land on the planet to find a lush forest and a high school. They enter the high school and are immediately trapped…

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Portrait of happy black woman working in bookstore and looking at camera.

Publishing: The Cancel Mob Targets Amy Coney Barrett’s New Book

Does the future of publishing — as an intellectual enterprise — now belong to smaller, less well-known publishers?

Last year, Mind Matters News covered the new phenomenon of publishing house staff going to war against the publisher’s own books. It’s a far cry from the days when publishers might have to defend their books in a courtroom. Last year the target was, among other authors, best-selling psychologist Jordan Peterson. We were informed by Maclean’s Magazine that “Employees at Penguin Random House Canada speak out on how they’re rethinking their workplaces and why publishing, writ large, should weigh its moral responsibilities” in connection with Peterson’s latest, Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life (Penguin 2021). The book did get published, despite them, to five star reviews. But Cancel Culture staff continue to lead the charge for “depublishing” and have…

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types of coffee placed to taste or smell

Designed to Dine, Part 2: How, Exactly, We Compute Flavor

Once a universally enjoyed but scientifically ignored phenomenon, flavor bursts out as an extraordinary event of a biological computer

Since Part 1 of this article was served up, have you experienced food and drink with greater awareness of flavor? Part 1 laid out the elements of flavor, including the smell, taste, texture, and mouth feel of foods and drinks. Smell delivers 80% of what we experience as flavor, coming from the thousands of sensory nerves in our noses detecting individual molecules. From the tongue comes taste sensations of sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami (savory). Flavor is like a dynamic 3-D hologram, a multi-dimensional composition of sensory inputs fluctuating in real-time, all delivered as data to the brain for final processing. Flavor makes eating fun! The Computation of Yummy The complicated and integrated systems of smell, taste, and other…

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stately Bengal Male Cat with beautiful spots Standing and Looking up on Isolated Black Background, Front view, Gorgerous breed

Researchers: Cats Do Recognize and Respond To Our Voices

If you are a cat’s human friend, he cares when you talk to him. Whether he will, or even can, do what you want is a separate question

Do cats care whether we talk to them or not? In a recent study, animal cognition experts found that cats may change their behavior when their “humans” are talking in a tone directed to them. But they don’t react the same way to a stranger who is talking that way or when the voice is directed elsewhere. Charlotte de Mouzon and colleagues from Université Paris Nanterre (Nanterre, France) investigated the way 16 cats reacted to “pre-recorded voices from both their owner and that of a stranger when saying phrases in cat-directed and human adult-directed tones.” With adult-directed tones, no “endearing” kitty talk is used. It might not be clear who the intended recipient of the message is, apart from what…

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Excalibur in graduation hat on stone at sunset day. Congratulate the graduates or education congratulation or academic freedom concept. 3D illustration

Stanford’s Academic Freedom Conference Slammed by Academics

Opponents are angered by the fact that, although the conference will be live-streamed, it is by invitation only and no media are allowed

Stanford Business School’s academic freedom conference, starting next week and headlined by tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel, is coming under fire. The organizers argue, Faculty organizers of the conference, from Stanford and several other institutions, promote it as follows: “Academic freedom, open inquiry, and freedom of speech are under threat as they have not been for decades. Visibly, academics are ‘canceled,’ fired, or subject to lengthy disciplinary proceedings in response to academic writing or public engagement. Less visibly, funding agencies, university bureaucracies, hiring procedures, promotion committees, professional organizations, and journals censor some kinds of research or demand adherence to political causes. Many parts of universities have become politicized or have turned into ideological monocultures, excluding people, ideas, or kinds of work…

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Table filled with snacks and traditional eastern European (Lithuanian) food for a feast celebration.

Designed to Dine: Humans are Computers of Flavor

Food itself has no flavor at all. Flavor is in the sensations — really the brain — of the beholder (and taster)

Whether you’re a professional gourmet, a self-styled “foodie,” or an everyday North American who likes to eat, you probably look forward to celebration dinners. At any feast on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or the Passover Seder, the focal feature is the food. It doesn’t occur to us to ask: How do we sense the flavors of the food? After all, the food itself has no flavor at all. Flavor is in the mouth — and the nose, tongue, eyes, inner ears, and really the brain — of the beholder. Venture to learn how human beings enjoy food, and you’ll discover exquisite evidence of intelligent design. Like so many biological systems, detecting flavor involves specialized hardware components and the corresponding software to…

robot army
Military artificial intelligence arms race to produce an AI enabled army with autonomous robot soldiers and weapon systems, conceptual illustration

Robots, Drones, and Modern Warfare

Robots might not take over the world like the sci-fi movies depict, but AI in modern warfare threatens much destruction

You might remember the blockbuster movie I, Robot (2004) starring Will Smith, who plays a tough-minded homicide detective named Del Spooner in Chicago in the year 2035. Humanoid robots serve humanity and have become incorporated into society. Still, ever since a robot saved Del at the expense of a little girl, he hates them and thinks they will eventually overrun the world. I, Robot imagines a society in which AI could physically overtake humanity. The technology we’ve created for our own use ends up using us, unto our own destruction. Movies like I, Robot, Terminator, and others envision sentient, human-like robots that threaten to jeopardize the meaning of being human. But is that the real danger of AI, or does…

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industry 4.0 concept: Man is holding product and teaching robot arm the points with control panel ( teach pendant ) on smart factory production line background. Selective Focus.

Preparing Students to Work in an Artificial Intelligence World

Technology innovations are rapidly changing the nature of work. Advancements in artificial intelligence are especially transforming the workforce landscape at an accelerating rate. Jobs of tomorrow will not resemble those of decades past, nor even those of today. Read More ›
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Giant surveillance camera spies a man. No secrets, no privacy concept. 3D rendering

Protest in China: “Don’t Want” and “Old Hen” Take On New Meaning

When former President Hu Jintao was escorted out of the Party Congress a couple of days ago, all reference to the matter disappeared from the official web

Recently, we have been following the creative protest methods used in China, in the wake of the Chinese Communist party’s five-year meeting that confirmed Xi Jinping for an unusual third term, while the former president Hu Jintao was escorted out by security. A much harder line on many things, including foreign affairs, is expected to follow. Because China is a very high-tech surveillance state, it is difficult for citizens to use usual online communication methods to discuss, register dissatisfaction with, or express worry over government decisions. The unconventional methods adopted are worth noting. Free Asia Radio reports that two young women were walking down a street in Shanghai, holding a white banner that read “Don’t want, want — Don’t want,…

Office colleagues using digital devices during meeting, consulting internet

Control of Social Media: Changes in the Lineup

Not just Elon Musk but Ye West, Peter Thiel, and J.D. Vance have their hats in the ring

The social media field is seeing a wave of insurgents — not because it is profitable (it largely isn’t, just now) but perhaps because control is important for other purposes. Of course, whether we want to or not, we must begin with Musk and Twitter. Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk must now acquire Twitter by October 28 or the whole thing goes back to trial in a Delaware court, where the judiciary will likely be peeved with him over antics that waste court time. The only people who are really unhappy now are Twitter employees. Musk announced an intention to lay off 75% of them and they have responded with an open letter: The letter demands that Musk commits to preserving…

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placebo

Placebo: The Power of the Human Mind Confounds Medical Research

Angelman syndrome, which creates a variety of developmental problems, has proven a challenge for researchers on that account

We don’t often hear about researchers crying but when researchers at Ovid Therapeutics heard the test results for their drug, gaboxadol, they couldn’t help it. They were testing the sleep-inducing drug to help with the symptoms of Angelman Syndrome, a rare neurogenetic disorder that appears in infancy. It results in a variety of developmental problems such as walking and balance disorders, inability to speak or sleep properly, gastrointestinal issues, and seizures. It affects people in different ways and to different degrees. Notably, those who cope with Angelman smile and laugh a lot and have a normal lifespan. The OVID team had high hopes for gaboxadol in August of this year because even improving the quality of sleep would help sufferers…

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Multiracial friends having fun and laughing drinking coffee in coffeehouse, diverse young people talking joking sitting together at cafe table, multi ethnic millennials spending time in coffee shop

How Would an AI Chatbot Handle the Complexities of Oral Language?

University of Toronto linguist Joseph Wilson unpacks some of the differences between the way we speak and the way we write

Joseph Wilson, a linguist and journalist who has done considerable work with oral languages (languages not yet written down), offers some thoughts on claims that chatbots like Blake Lemoine’s LaMDA, really speak like human persons. He offers a sharp distinction between oral language and the written language that chatbots are trained on: But this excludes all unwritten forms of communication: sign language, oral histories, body language, tone of voice, and the broader cultural context in which people find themselves speaking. In other words, it leaves out much of the interesting stuff that makes nuanced communication between people possible. Joseph Wilson, “Why AI Will Never Fully Capture Human Language” at Sapiens (October 12, 2022) We really don’t know how old spoken…

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Künstliche Intelligenz Konzept

Oxford’s John Lennox Busts the “Computer Takeover” Myth

AI is here to stay, he says, but in addition to doing a great deal of good, it raises vast problems we must address

Earlier this month, we looked at claims that robots are going to scarf up everyone’s jobs. That was a bonus feature in the Science Uprising series. In another bonus interview, “John Lennox on the Transhumanist Claim AI Will Turn Humans into Gods” (October 17, 2022), Oxford mathematician Lennox talks about claims that 1) computers are taking over and that 2) we will merge with them (transhumanism). Lennox is the author of 2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity (2020). This is the first of two parts, where he talks mainly about narrow AI but then gets into the topic of artificial general intelligence (AGI). A partial transcript and notes follow: John Lennox: The typical AI system consists of a…

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Haiti flag being pushed into the ground by a male silhouette. 3D Rendering

Haiti: Turning the Blazing Sun Into a Power Source

Brian Thomas and Kayla Garrett learned how to make solar power work in Haiti by listening to people, especially the Haitians they work with

In podcast Episode 209, Robert J. Marks continues the discussion with Brian Thomas and Kayla Garrett of JustEnergy about appropriate technology for energy-starved Haiti: Solar powering hospitals, orphanages & schools (October 20, 2022): Robert J. Marks: I was informed that people [in Haiti] on average make a dollar a day and they have to go out and they have to buy gas sometimes on the black market for $20, $30 a gallon. It’s just crazy.. So one of the things that you’re concentrated on as engineers is to increase the energy access to Haitians. So what’s the technology that you use to increase the energy access? Brian Thomas: Haiti doesn’t have any petroleum — any oil, gasoline, diesel… or even…

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Private browsing on blue computer keyboard, internet security

About Google’s Incognito Mode — Techies Think You’ve Been Had

A recent lawsuit revealed that users may think Google is not watching them but programmers know that it is

When Incognito mode (“If you don’t want Google Chrome to remember your activity, you can browse the web privately in Incognito mode”) was challenged in court, programmers made some interesting admissions. While 56.3 percent of respondents surveyed in 2018 thought that Incognito “prevents Google from seeing their search history,” the reality is, according to techies, “Seriously, we all know private browsing modes don’t hide us from anything other than our spouse.” This is now blowing up: Google faces a potential privacy case as a class of millions of users filed to sue it for billions of dollars over Chrome’s Incognito mode lack of genuine privacy protections. While user ignorance is never a great argument in front of a judge, court…