Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Monthly Archive November 2022

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Time concept. Hi-res digitally generated image.

The Orville: The Moral Conundrums of Time Travel, Part 1

What if killing a person’s past wipes out a whole family?

The last two episodes I’ve discussed of Orville, Season 3, have delved into popular political issues that allowed the writers’ bias to damage the plot. This episode, Part 6, does something worse. It may not seem like a big deal, at first. But let me explain why this episode is terrible from a standpoint that goes beyond the writing. Yes, the writing is bad but that’s par for the course with this show. However, it’s one thing to prattle on about political issues that are in vogue. But it’s another matter entirely to murder a family, and defend the decision, and in so doing, try to establish a set of priorities that are, to say the least, unwholesome. Writers describe…

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3D illustration of Interconnected neurons with electrical pulses.

Science Isn’t Even Possible Apart From Non-Material Consciousness

Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder tries hard to argue against that conclusion but things do not go well…

A couple of days ago, we were looking at the way theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder grapples with the way quantum mechanics has undermined materialism. Whether and how we choose to measure something has a big impact, which makers consciousness very difficult to just explain away. Here is her most helpful video on the topic (all the more helpful, one might say, because she is so clearly unhappy with the outcome!): “Does Consciousness Influence Quantum Effects?” (November 19, 2022) Nobelist Eugene Wigner (1902–1995) was one of the physicists who explored the problem. Hossenfelder points to his famous “Wigner’s friend experiment.” (3:01). Here is an illustration from a different source: Essentially, as Wigner pointed out in 1961, a basic building block of…

getting laid off
Unemployed hold cardboard box and laptop bag, dossier and drawing tube in box. Quiting a job, businessman fired or leave a job concpet.

Twitter Gets Blasted While Meta Struggles

While Musk’s every move is being scrutinized, Zuckerberg’s struggles fall to the wayside

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla and founder of PayPal, radically reorganized Twitter in October and November, and now, is the subject of much criticism from the media. He has laid off hundreds of employees and fired the advisory board. In addition, he reinstated the formerly suspended accounts of Jordan Peterson, parody news site The Babylon Bee, and most outrageously, former president Donald Trump. A few days ago, somehow it was assumed across the Twitter sphere that the entire platform was about to implode. I started seeing people post things like, “If this is my last tweet, I’m okay with that…” Not sure what was happening, I experienced a sudden flood of similar tweets prophesying the Twitter era’s impending…

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Quantum Physics Axed Materialism. Many Hope the World Won’t Know

Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder struggles to explain how quantum mechanics is consistent with materialism

Quantum mechanics, which developed in the early twentieth century, has been a serious blow to materialism. There is no way to make sense of it if immaterial entities like information, observation, or the mind are not real. Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder struggles against the effects of this fact. In a recent video, she asks, “Does Consciousness Influence Quantum Effects?” (November 19, 2022) She asks, why did some physicists like von Neumann and Wigner think that consciousness is necessary to make sense of quantum mechanics, and can consciousness influence the outcome of a quantum experiment? (0:33) Well, they had good reason. Any effort to exclude consciousness from reality fails. Hossenfelder, a hostile witness, kindly offers an example from the work of…

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Mouse Cursor Clicking CAPTCHA

CAPTCHA: How Fooling Machines Is Different From Fooling Humans

Automated censorship is intended to protect against a tidal wave of spam but it could certainly have other uses…

Readers of Mind Matters News have likely heard of the iconic Turing test. Computer pioneer Alan Turing famously invented a test to determine whether a program could pass as a human. The gist is, if a program can fool human testers into believing it is a human, then the program is intelligent. Not everyone is convinced. Thing is, it doesn’t take much to fool us humans! Take Eliza , a program of only a few hundred lines, written in the 60s, which fooled many people into believing it was a real human therapist. But what if we flip the Turing test on its head? Instead of a test where a program tries to pass as human, we use a test…

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Scared young girl in mask, coronavirus panic

China’s Foxconn Walkout: How Fear Messaging Can Backfire

Workers were caught in a conflict between unrealistic COVID Zero messaging from the government and seasonal performance demands from the employer

Around this time of year, the factories that produce Apple’s iPhones hire thousands of additional workers to meet the demand for the holiday season. While Apple is an American company and the electronics are designed in-house, the manufacturing is done overseas where labor costs are cheaper. One of the largest manufacturers for Apple’s iPhone products is Hon Hai Technology Group, better known as Foxconn, a Taiwan-based company with factories in several countries, including mainland China. One of its largest facilities is in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province — dubbed “iPhone City” by the locals. Thus the Zhengzhou Foxconn factory was slated to make 80% of the iPhone 14 models and 85% of the iPhone Pro models before the end…

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Businessman holding investment finance chart, stock market business concept, and exchange, financial growth graph,Investing in the stock market of cryptocurrencies

Understanding the Fall of FTX — the False Reality of Market Caps

Let’s have a look at the critical question that was never asked in the first place…

In finance, the “market capitalization” or “market cap” of a security or currency is a simple way to evaluate the overall “value” of the total entity (this is also called “network value” in terms of a cryptocurrency). It is easiest to think about market caps in terms of stocks instead of currencies. In the stock market, if ABC Company is broken up into 100,000 shares, and the going market price is $3 per share, then the market cap of ABC is $300,000. Likewise for coins, if there are 100,000 coins available, and the current market price of the coin is $7, then the market cap of the coin will be $700,000. The idea behind the market cap is that, if…

meta with human hand
Hand touch metaverse infinite loop unlimited technology futuristic digital connection background of virtual reality cyberpunk world or internet game innovation cyber network and hologram experience.

Big Layoffs Ahead for Zuckerberg’s Meta

Employee downsizing at the social media giant casts doubt on its relevancy and future

With recent headlines highlighting Elon Musk’s Twitter, Meta’s ongoing troubles have escaped some of the limelight, but are significant, nonetheless. This past week, Mark Zuckerberg announced over 11,000 layoffs across his company, focusing on recruiting and business, according to a memo. The layoffs will affect some 13 percent of the tech giant’s 87,000 employees. Meta, due in large part to its optimistic investment in the metaverse, plummeted in value this past year, and workers are feeling the consequences.   While the tech industry is seeing high personnel cuts this year, Zuckerberg did not have to hire as many people as he did, and clearly depended too much on the metaverse project for profit, which looks like it won’t be nearly…

Apple iPhone 8 with Twitter Logotype on a Screen

Why Do Twitter Jobs Matter More Than Data Privacy?

The Musk ‘n Twitter show won’t leave town any time soon and it obscures a much bigger, deeper issue

Elon Musk sure knows how to create a drama. First, a brief update because you probably had better things to do this weekend: Doom I! “1,200 Twitter Employees Resign, Company Closes All Offices” (Rolling Stone, November 18, 2022) Get this: “Twitter offices have been closed down and employees are resigning in droves, leading to growing fears that the service could shut down at any time.” (ScreenRant, November 18, 2022) “While it’s unlikely that Twitter will shut down entirely, departing employees are warning of service outages, glitches and safety risks. (NPR November 18, 2022) Worth noting: Musk has reinstated satire site Babylon Bee and Project Veritas, and, after conducting a poll, has also reinstated former U.S. president Donald Trump (who currently…

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Beautiful little girl on nature with flowers

Orville Episode 5: Bad Allegory — But Competent Writing

Competent writing is some compensation for an otherwise tedious exposition of transgender ideology

Last time, we began discussing The Orville, Season Three, Episode 5, A Tale of Two Topas. I mentioned that the episode was an allegory for children undergoing gender reassignment surgery. I suspected that they were affirming this practice because of the political nomenclature they used. However, it’s possible they weren’t. The fact that Topa was transitioned from a female to a male as an infant and now wishes to return to her original state suggests the very opposite of what the transgender movement claims. In this article, I shall discuss the subsequent plot and let the reader decide. I want to start out by saying the writing of this episode is far superior to the preceding ones. I hesitate to…

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Evil robot, glowing lights, shiny metalic parts

So, Can a Computer Really Be Irrational?

Computer prof Robert J. Marks tells Wesley J. Smith: No, and here’s why … from his experience

In a recent episode at Mind Matters News podcasting, “Can a computer be a person?” (November 10, 2022), Robert J. Marks and Wesley J. Smith discussed that in connection with Marks’s new book, Non-Computable You: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/11/Mind-Matters-212-Robert-Marks.mp3 Some excerpts: Wesley J. Smith: Let me ask the question in a different way. Can an AI ever be irrational? Robert J. Marks: Yes. Irrational in the sense of being irrational from the point of an observer. A classic example, and this happened a number of years ago, was that the Soviets during the Cold War developed a high technology to decide whether the US was being attacked by… I’m sorry, whether the Soviet Union was being attacked by the United States. And so…

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Tree with no leaves shapes like human brain as illustration

Evolution of Human Consciousness SOLVED! — Yet Again, It Seems…

What does the term “evolution” contribute to the discussion of the origin of human consciousness?

At Psychology Today, we read a bold and simple claim about the evolution of consciousness: “A type of information processing called unlimited associative learning (UAL) may be necessary and sufficient for very basic sentience.” The article by University of Toronto psychiatrist Ralph Lewis begins on a very self-assured note: Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. The gradualism of evolution has explained and dissolved life’s mysteries—life’s seemingly irreducible complexity and the illusion that living things possess some sort of mysterious vitalizing essence. So, too, evolution is likely to be key to demystifying the seemingly inexplicable, ethereal nature of consciousness. Ralph Lewis, “Learning May Be the Key to the Evolution of Consciousness” at Psychology Today (November 3,…

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Friends group having addicted fun using mobile smart phone - Close up of people hands sharing content on social media network with smartphone - Technology concept with millenials online with cellphone

Musk and Twitter: Why, Amid Pink Slips, the Sudden Virtue Parade?

Musk may or may not be the answer but he is sure not the problem

If Elon Musk has not invested his fortune in electric cars, he would be wise to consider soap operas… On the other hand, maybe he can continue to do the soap operas for free? Consider: After he bought Twitter, who can beat these headlines from the — suddenly — dreadfully earnest tech media? “After Twitter Staff Cuts, Survivors Face ‘Radio Silence’ ” Or “Elon’s paranoid purge.” Or a sudden love for China-owned Tik Tok. And get this: One tech writer primly informs: “[TikTok CEO Shou Zi] Chew’s comments, perhaps unintentionally, cut to one of the biggest question marks still looming over Musk’s embryonic tenure as Twitter’s owner: just how committed is he to keeping Twitter safe?” Twitter? Safe? Is TikTok…

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Bitcoin cryptocurrency, virtual money concept

Has the Bitcoin Supply of Greater Fools Finally Been Exhausted?

It’s a bubble fueled by babble

The Declaration of Bitcoin’s Independence, endorsed by numerous celebrities, states that, We hold these truths to be self-evident. We have been cyclically betrayed, lied to, stolen from, extorted from, taxed, monopolized, spied on, inspected, assessed, authorized, registered, deceived, and reformed. We have been economically disarmed, disabled, held hostage, impoverished, enervated, exhausted, and enslaved. And then there was bitcoin. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are, in reality, not useful alternatives to cash, checking accounts, debit cards, credit cards, and the other components of the financial system that powers the economies of developed countries. Blockchain technology is slow, expensive, and environmentally unfriendly. In 2021, Cambridge University researchers estimated that bitcoin blockchains consume as much electricity as the entire country of Argentina, with only…

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Could Crypto Be a Safe National Currency?

At COSM a panel of experts debated the future of crypto

A panel moderated by blockchain expert Sam Yilmaz COO of Bloccelerate last week at COSM debated whether cryptocurrency could be a national currency. It’s a risk but then many current currencies are. From Wyatt Robinson — Principal Corporate Counsel, Microsoft: The whole premise behind blockchain as I understand it from my view as a former financial services attorney, is really to promote efficiency free up capital allow more money to be out there for end users to have in their pockets. And so when we think about what should we put on chain, what activities should be going on chain at the end of the day, think about the stakeholders, the users who are involved in that transaction or are…

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3d illustration of black retro alarm clock with arrow and golden megaphone on yellow color background

What Happens When Science Mags Go Woke?

When fashion mags go woke, no one cares. Some girls want to wear rags on their heads, well… But science mags?

Let’s look at some of the things that are happening: Darwinian evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne puts the matter concisely when he says, The old saying goes that “all science is political”, a saying that is true only if you stretch the meaning of either “science” or “political”. I’m baffled, for instance, to understand how my work on the genetics of hybrid sterility in Drosophila is political. But don’t worry: the ideologues will find a way to make it so. “You’re doing your work in the milieu of a culture,” they’ll babble, “and decisions about what to fund and publish are explicitly political.” Blah blah blah. Jerry Coyne, “Scientific American goes defensive; tries to pretend that every social justice screed is…

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Engineer's gloved hand is holding the CPU chip on the background of the motherboard. High-tech hardware microelectronics

Big Innovations Can Depend on Really Little Things

Stuff that is far too small to see can change the world

The opening panel on Thursday morning at COSM 2022 was “The New Nanocosm.” — the world of really small things like molecules. The first panelist to speak was Chris Harrison, CEO of CTEC (“Clean Thermodynamic Energy Conversion”) Energy, a British company which seeks to convert industrial waste into energy. Its basic premise is that there is “an incredible amount of excess heat that was coming off engines and going into the atmosphere,” and this heat could be converted into usable work. The company takes waste materials — Harrison cited municipal solid waste, medical waste, chemical waste, hazardous waste — and uses it to generate electricity. The remaining waste can also be re-purposed. The conversion process yields a “fine ash” which…

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Working Data Center Full of Rack Servers and Supercomputers, Modern Telecommunications, Artificial Intelligence, Supercomputer Technology Concept.3d rendering,conceptual image.

So artificial intelligence has its limits?

Science writer Allison Whitten explains.

Thus it turns out. Science writer Allison Whitten explains: Artificial intelligence algorithms cannot keep growing at their current pace. Algorithms like deep neural networks — which are loosely inspired by the brain, with multiple layers of artificial neurons linked to each other via numerical values called weights — get bigger every year. But these days, hardware improvements are no longer keeping pace with the enormous amount of memory and processing capacity required to run these massive algorithms. Soon, the size of AI algorithms may hit a wall. Allison Whitten, “New Chip Expands the Possibilities for AI” at Quanta (November 10, 2022) Funny that never happens with humans. Humans never hit a wall in that way. Whether it’s Albert Einstein or…

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Electric Cars at COSM 2022

Are Electric Cars Really the Future?

Panelists at the 2022 COSM conference discuss the pros and cons of electric vehicles

On November 10th, the COSM conference hosted a special panel on electric vehicles (EVs for short). Brian Mistele, founder and CEO of Inrix, a leading provider of traffic information, car services, and transportation analytics, moderated the discussion. Aside from Mistele, the panel included Howard Hayden, professor emeritus at the University of Connecticut and editor of The Energy Advocate, Walter Myers, Principal Manager on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud-based platform, and Tony Posawatz, an automotive industry pioneer and chief executive of Fisker Automotive. They brought a range of perspectives on the pros and cons of EVs and where the auto industry is heading. Posawatz kicked off the panel by giving a brief overview of automobile history. He said, There was electric and folks…

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Summer meadow blow balls landscape painting

Could AI ever pass the Van Gogh test?

Van Gogh was crazy but he was talented and AI can be neither

The Van Gogh Test for sheer creativity? Thursday night at COSM presented a live, in-person interview with Federico Faggin, the Italian physicist and computer engineer who co-won the prestigious Kyoto prize in 1997 for helping develop the Intel 4004 chip. Faggin was interviewed by technology reporter Maria Teresa Cometto, who asked him to regale the audience with tales about helping to design early microchips. Eventually Faggin recounted a time when he was “studying neuroscience and biology, trying to understand how the brain works,” and came upon a startling realization: And at one point I asked myself, “But wait a second, I mean these books, all this talk about electrical signals, biochemical signals, but when I taste some chocolate, I mean…