Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

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Self-driving Cars: Following the Money up a Cooling Trail

The market for lithium for electric car batteries is slowing

One way we can assess entrepreneurs’ claims (think Elon Musk) is to ask, what physical components does the product require and how is the market responding?

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hunters on cave paint digital illustration with notebook

Why Some Scientists Think Science Is an Illusion

It’s a useful illusion, they say, but our brains are not really wired to know the facts

The great triumph of the theory of evolution was to show that humans are just animals in nature—clever, yes, but clever animals. Or so we are told.  But wait!

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dita, mano, dna, scienza, biologia

In China, high-tech racial profiling is social policy

For an ethnic minority, a physical checkup includes blood samples, fingerprints, iris scans, and voice recordings

The Chinese government seeks a database of everyone in the country, not only to track individuals but to determine the ethnicity of those who run up against the law.

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Chatbot conversation on smartphone screen app interface with artificial intelligence technology providing virtual assistant customer support and information, person hand holding mobile phone

You can build your own chatbot

New tools have made it comparatively easy

Natural Language Interfaces (the technical term for a chatbot) are becoming more and more popular. Many dial-in phone services have switched from numeric interfaces (“Dial 1 for sales, 2 for service, etc.”) to natural language interfaces (“Please say what you are calling about”). Where they have taken off though is with chatbots. Many online help systems at least start with chatbots, which collect basic information about a problem or situation and point to existing solutions before passing the contact off to a human expert. Additionally, the rise of the Generation Text, as well as the proliferation of chat-based groupware such as Slack, means that text-based natural language interfaces are one of the best ways of interacting with young people. Is Read More ›

Leuchtende Würfel mit Paragraphen-Symbol auf Tastatur

The Internet’s Structure Builds In Privacy Flaws

The Domain Name resolver knows every service you visit, and every service those services rely on, as you move around the internet

How can you create a directory that anyone can access and yet keep what everyone is asking for private? Short of moving to a paper-based DNS system (think, a stack of New York City-size telephone directories), there isn’t a good answer within the present system.

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Cityscape 2

Why did Watson think Toronto was in the U.S.A.?

How that happened tells us a lot about what AI can and can’t do, to this day

Strictly speaking, the answer Watson spit out was "What is Toronto?????", which does sound distinctly less than certain. But the programmers had chosen not to program in the option of saying, “I don’t know.”

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chimpanzee family

Human-Ape Similarity Shows Humans Are Exceptional

If man is an animal biologically, but so unlike an animal cognitively, the obvious implication is that some aspect of the human mind is not biological

Ironically, if humans and apes were biologically more different, materialists could claim that the material biological differences rather than immaterial spiritual differences account for our powers of abstract thought. The biological similarity precludes such an argument.

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Modern Red Haired Man Relaxing in Office

Lazy Engineers Treat AI as Magic!

When software engineers mostly use shared code, they save time but risk losing understanding

Building from scratch is different. Knowing when to use a tool and why and knowing the limitations of each tool separates the craftsperson from the novice.

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Hand above a red emergency button

Why an AI pioneer thinks Watson is a “fraud”

The famous Jeopardy contest in 2011 worked around the fact that Watson could not grasp the meaning of anything

Gary N. Smith explains that a computer’s inability to understand what “it” means in a sentence is because it doesn’t understand what any of the words in the sentence mean.

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gud

Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene: How to Spell Gud

Also, Google and Apple ditching college degree requirements is not really that new

Twenty years or so ago, when I worked in Seattle, Microsoft was famous for the testing coding skills of their applicants and asking Mensa-like questions. Degrees were secondary.

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Girls eye with paint and earth

Why Some Scientists Believe the Universe Is Conscious

They’re not mystics. But materialism is not giving good answers so they are looking around

These prominent thinkers are driven to panpsychism because materialism about the mind doesn’t really work. So if panpsychism ends up seeming absurd, dualism—there really is an immaterial world—is also worth considering.

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relaxed man in autonomous car. self driving vehicle. autopilot. automotive technology.

Should Tesla’s Autopilot Feature Be Illegal?

A recent study from the United Kingdom suggests that maybe it should

Tesla may tell drivers that Autopilot is not the same as a self-driving car. But, just as cell phone manufacturers’ warnings not to “text and drive” are too often unheeded, so too may be Tesla’s warnings.

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New Hacking Tactics

Many Parents Ignore Risks of Posting Kids’ Data Online

The lifelong digital footprint, which starts before birth, makes identity theft much easier
The recently discovered “design flaw” in Facebook’s Messenger app, aimed at kids, was a wake-up call. Keeping a child’s data out of the wrong hands is just part of good parenting today. Read More ›
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Stones balanced on table with a pen

Can Computer Algorithms Be Free of Bias?

Bias is inevitable but it should be recognized and admitted

Gregory Coppola’s revelations about Google’s politically biased search engine shone a spotlight on how algorithms are written.

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Chaotic particles with random size. Twisted massive of particles with glow.
Abstract background 3d render. Chaotic particles with random size. Twisted massive of particles with glow.

No Materialist Theory of Consciousness Is Plausible

All such theories either deny the very thing they are trying to explain, result in absurd scenarios, or end up requiring an immaterial intervention

Consciousness is the biggest problem for materialism. How is it possible that a bunch of particles that are devoid of consciousness get together and cause consciousness?

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Three managers in city, social network

Should Engineers Think Like Computers?

To limit ourselves to the symbolic logic that computers can do is to leave our humanity behind
Symbolic logic says nothing about the truth or reality of what you give it. To understand what things really are, you have to get outside the pristine mathematical structure of symbolic logic and embrace what Prof. Kreeft calls Socratic logic. Read More ›
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Chain link fence obscuring brake lights

When High Tech Must Be Kept Secret

Universities that do national defence research try to manage the tension between intellectual freedom and national security

A plasma physics professor who interpreted the “fundamental research exception” too loosely ended up in jail.

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Hand pulling colorful wooden block from the tower in as Risk or stability concept

Google Engineer Reveals Search Engine Bias

He found Google pretty neutral in 2014; the bias started with the US 2016 election

The algorithms—the series of commands to computers—“don’t write themselves,” Coppola says. People who have their own opinions may write them into an algorithm, knowingly or otherwise.

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