Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

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Super realistic android
Very humanlike android

A Closer Look at Detroit: Become Human, Part I

Gaming culture provides a window into our culture’s assumptions about artificial intelligence

In the game, Detroit has transcended its current economic despair, emerging as the epicenter of the android revolution. Cyberlife, headquartered there, has become the first company to engineer and produce fully autonomous, general purpose AI androids for consumers.

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meteorite explosion in the air on black bakcground
Missile explosion

Why we can’t just ban killer robots

Should we develop them for military use? The answer isn’t pretty. It is yes.

Autonomous AI weapons are potentially within the reach of terrorists, madmen, and hostile regimes like Iran and North Korea. As with nuclear warheads, we need autonomous AI to counteract possible enemy deployment while avoiding its use ourselves.

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Woman's hands typing on a pastel pink keyboard
Woman's hands typing on a pastel pink keyboard of retro laptop. Work and technology.

Could Your Computer Be Transgender?

A shift in basic philosophy can account for the new dogma that biological sex is a matter of culture and choice
Nominalism is a philosophical dead end that does not reflect underlying reality. But it has permeated our culture. We are told that there are no categories; everything is infinitely plastic. Read More ›
sad robot
Toy Robot looking at itself in mirror

That Robot Is Not Self-Aware

The way the media cover AI, you'd almost think they had invented being hopelessly naïve
If this is how The Telegraph reports on a robotic arm, can you imagine what it will sound like when we get humanoid robots who seem to carry on conversations? We had best inoculate ourselves now against AI hype from science reporters while most of us still have enough self-awareness to realize what’s going on. Read More ›
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Human Fetus Week Nine

The Junk Science of the Abortion Lobby

Fetuses not only experience pain but experience it more intensely than do adults
Much of pro-abortion advocacy is science denial—the deliberate misrepresentation of science to advance an ideological agenda. Mary Ziegler, a law professor at Florida State University, wrote a misleading essay on that theme in the New York Times, “Science won’t end this debate” (January 22, 2019). Read More ›
Neurons cells concept
Conceptual illustration of neuron cells with glowing link knots in abstract dark space, high resolution 3D illustration

Even the axons in our nerve cells are “smart PCs”

Your brain is not a computer, it is billions of them

Contrary to expectations, researchers say, far-flung regions (thousands of cell body widths from their nucleus) can even make independent decisions.

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Businessmen Having a Business Agreement
Japanese Businessmen Having a Business Agreement

STEM Education 4: Do STEM Nerds Need to Learn Latin?

Okay, not Latin. But some arts subjects do enhance a STEM career

Well-roundedness is appropriate in applied STEM curricula to the extent that it rounds out the skills necessary for success as a STEM professional.

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Stripes on two lane highway

Can We Program Morality into a Self-Driving Car?

A software engineering professor tells us why that’s not a realistic goal

Any discussion of the morality of the self-driving car should touch on the fact that the industry as a whole thrives on hype that skirts honesty.

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Two fighter planes, one older one newer

STEM EDUCATION 3. Killing People and Breaking Things

Modern history suggests that military superiority driven by technology can be a key factor in deterring aggression and preventing mass fatalities
Today, better AI is the goal of the arms race. Russian President Vladimir Putin has prophesied: “Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere [AI] will become the ruler of the world.” Putin’s remarks apply to both economic and military dominance. Read More ›
3D technology background with code over male head
3D render of a technology background with code over male head

The Brain Exceeds the Most Powerful Computers in Efficiency

Human thinking takes vastly less computational effort to arrive at the same conclusions.
All of the tasks that AI accomplishes require a certain amount of memory, computational power, and time. We have a good enough understanding of the human brain to measure the same quantities used for the same tasks. Thus, we can measure the difference between what minds and machines require to solve the same problem. Read More ›
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Cryptic characters in neon, a password or curse word

Bitcoin: Is Lack of Trust the Biggest Security Threat?

It’s almost a parable: Everyone can see, no one can access, the millions trapped in the ether by a password known only to a dead man
Is this the future of currency? Seems like the Dark Ages to me. Bitcoin is a clever idea, but it is perhaps too clever for its own good. Read More ›
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Classified section of a newspaper

Part 2: Navigating the Machine Learning Landscape — Supervised Classifiers

Supervised classifiers can sort items like posts to a discussion group or medical images, using one of many algorithms developed for the purpose
In Part 1 of our series, we looked at machine learning, including supervised learning, unsupervised learning, and reinforcement learning. Now we’re going to dive a little deeper into how supervised learning works. Read More ›
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Close up of colorful silicon wafers

The Idol with Feet of Silicon

Religions based on artificial intelligence (AI) cannot transcend the limits of computers

Those proclaiming that exclusive truth lives totally in naturalism are constrained to a sadly narrow view of the world. Some naturalists have put their faith in AI and have founded the AI Church. They may think they are doing something new and cutting edge, but as Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun (1:9).

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Yelling and screaming amidst colorful powder in the air

How the Internet Turns Coffee Klatches into Mobs

A philosopher sheds light on how the Covington high school kids became America's Most Hated
The chaos and violence rising in our own country and around the world get much of their fuel from the obscurity and contagion of the internet, which is kerosene sprayed on the sparks tossed up by civilization. If we are to survive this conflagration, we must understand how these fires grow. Read More ›
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Worshippers or concert goers gaze at lighted diamond

Tales of an Invented God

The most important characteristic of an AI cult is that its gods (Godbots?) will be created by the AI developers and not the other way around
A book on the new pop science religion might well be titled “Tales of the Invented God.” Its author would likely be challenged to keep up with all the non-events breathlessly documented. After all, the technocrats who invent their future gods can change, re-envision, replace, upgrade, eliminate them at any time. Read More ›
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Bronzed person wearing virtual reality glasses

AI as an Emergent Religion

Science philosopher Mike Keas’s new book discusses how AI and ET are merging, to create a religion of futurist magic
Many Singulatarians hold that their soon-to-be-realized technology will be indistinguishable by the rest of us from magic.   Are they serious? Well, in 2005, Kurzweil said that the magical Harry Potter stories “are not unreasonable visions of our world as it will exist only a few decades from now.” when, due to AI, “the entire universe will become saturated with our intelligence.”  Keas warns that this type of thing encourages people “to expect the experiential equivalent of occult phenomena.” Read More ›
Boy and blackboard filled with math formulas
boy in glasses, blackboard filled with math formulas background

STEM EDUCATION 2. Not Everyone Is Lucky Enough to be a Nerd

How do you identify extroverted nerds? When you are talking to them, they look at YOUR shoes
If I am made to confess that college courses in Shakespearean sonnets will make me a better person, then English literature majors had better confess that calculus makes them better people. Read More ›
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Scrabble pieces with numbers and letters

The Numbers Don’t Speak for Themselves

The patterns uncovered by machine learning may reflect a larger reality or just a bias in gathering data
Because Machine Learning is opaque—even experts cannot clearly explain how a system arrived at a conclusion—we treat it as magic. Therefore, we should mistrust the systems until proven innocent (and correct). Read More ›