Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

ArchiveArticles

sky painted over face
A man with the sky surreal painting illustration

Facebook and Government: Working Together for Thought Management

A critical distinction between Facebook and traditional media is that Facebook is global and total, not regional and partial

In recent years, motivated perhaps by a sense of public duty, Facebook (rebranded as Meta) has turned its attention to fine-grained political reeducation and censorship of the nearly 3 billion monthly active users of its platform. All the instances listed below (plus, doubtless, many others we don’t know of at press time) add up to quite the program of thought management: ● Working closely with the FBI to monitor Americans who questioned the results of the 2020 election: “It was done outside the legal process and without probable cause,” alleged one of the sources, who spoke on condition of -anonymity. “Facebook provides the FBI with private conversations which are protected by the First Amendment without any subpoena.” These private messages…

Quantum particle, quantum mechanics

Why Philosopher Quentin Smith Saw Belief in God as Unscientific

Reader Laszlo Bencze looks at his list of reasons for thinking so and offers some thoughtful comments

In the first part of the discussion between Robert Lawrence Kuhn and Western Michigan University philosopher Quentin Persifor Smith (1952–2020) at Closer to Truth, “What Does a Fine-Tuned Universe Mean?” (Aug 31, 2022), Dr. Smith asserted that — while physicists may write about the fine-tuning of our universe in books aimed at the public — they do not discuss it in peer reviewed journals. Jonathan Bartlett supplied a number of references to such discussions in journals. In this second part of the discussion, Kuhn gave the floor to Dr. Smith to explain why he thought that belief in God is unscientific. A partial transcript follows, with some notes and comments interspersed: Quentin Persifor Smith: (7:20) But I think the real…

robot-with-artificial-intelligence-observing-human-skull-in-evolved-cybernetic-organism-world-3d-rendered-image-stockpack-adobe-stock
Robot with Artificial Intelligence observing human skull in Evolved Cybernetic organism world. 3d rendered image

Researcher Warns: AI Can Develop Lethal Chemical Weapons Swiftly

Much public discussion of AI’s dangers turns on AI “taking over.” That’s hardly the serious risk we face

The dangers of out-of-control artificial intelligence (AI) are sometimes misrepresented. The sci-fi version is that AI decides to take over from mere humans, like the iconic HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey: (1968). A more likely danger is bad actors using enormous computing power to cause harms that they could not have managed on their own. Here’s a sobering example: It took less than six hours for drug-developing AI to invent 40,000 potentially lethal molecules. Researchers put AI normally used to search for helpful drugs into a kind of “bad actor” mode to show how easily it could be abused at a biological arms control conference. All the researchers had to do was tweak their methodology to seek out,…

human-hand-fine-tuning-levels-on-professional-audio-equipment-stockpack-adobe-stock
Human hand fine tuning levels on professional audio equipment

Philosopher: “Universe Fine-Tuned for Life” is Just Folk Belief!

Do physicists claim that the universe is fine-tuned for life only when writing for a popular audience — and not in their professional work?

Closer to Truth recently published a revealing podcast in which host Robert Lawrence Kuhn asked late Western Michigan University philosopher Quentin Persifor Smith (1952–2020), “What Does a Fine-Tuned Universe Mean?” (Aug 31, 2022). Smith iss esteemed for his work on philosophy of time, philosophy of religion, naturalism and atheism, philosophy of Big Bang cosmology and quantum cosmology. So can we really draw conclusions from the fact that our universe appears fine-tuned for life? Kuhn’s questions and Smith’s responses help us understand why the question remains controversial. A partial transcript and notes follow. Quentin Persifor Smith: (1:43) If the universe is causally deterministic, you can take whatever happens at any point and infer backwards that this is what must have happened,…

the-big-bang-stockpack-adobe-stock
The Big Bang

At Scientific American: Webb Is Breaking the Big Bang Paradigm

That cosmic blast has been as much of a cultural and philosophical concept as a scientific one — hence the angst over challenging findings

Last weekend, we said — whatever one thinks about the Big Bang, — it was evident that the James Webb Space Telescope had shaken up astronomy. At Scientific American, science writer Jonathan O’Callaghan seems to agree: In the weeks and months following JWST’s findings of surprisingly mature “early” galaxies, blindsided theorists and observers alike have been scrambling to explain them. Could the bevy of anomalously big and bright early galaxies be illusory, perhaps because of flaws in analysis of the telescope’s initial observations? If genuine, could they somehow be explained by standard cosmological models? Or, just maybe, were they the first hints that the universe is more strange and complex than even our boldest theories had supposed? At stake is…

exploration-of-mars-the-red-planet-of-the-solar-system-in-space-this-image-elements-furnished-by-nasa-stockpack-adobe-stock
Exploration of Mars the Red planet of the solar system in space. This image elements furnished by NASA.

News From the Search for Extraterrestrial Life 5

NASA staff are said to be quite excited about organic materials around the Jezero Crater; astronomers are learning more about "eyeball planets"

As the telescopes and other instruments rain data on researchers, each week brings news of interest: From our galaxy: Last week, planets orbiting M-type (common red dwarf) stars came up. Astronomers are classifying these planets in greater detail: “’We have discovered that small planets orbiting this type of star can be classified into three distinct families: rocky planets very similar to Earth, planets with half their mass consisting of water that we call water worlds, and mini-Neptunes with extended atmospheres of hydrogen and/or helium’, describes Pallé.” – Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) (September 8, 2022) One feature of these worlds may be a surprise: “Given that they are tidally locked to their suns, these planets may also have liquid…

liar-stockpack-adobe-stock
liar

Storytelling: The Liar is Revealed! But Does Anyone Still Care?

Stories where the central character lies about something important often waste audience time without building tension

If there was one storytelling device (trope) I would call the bane of all good writing and a general waste of everyone’s time, it’s The Liar Revealed. With that trope, the dramatic tension is driven by the fact that the central character (the protagonist) is not who or what the others suppose. Pretty much every other trope can be made to work properly with the proper setup. But if a writer chooses to go with this cliché, just expect the movie to stop until the trope is finished playing out. Everything is on pause until the truth is revealed. What is the Liar Revealed? Well, as a trope, it’s not just whenever a character lies. The lies are not really…

light in the forest
Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego,Ushuaia

Amazon’s Rings of Power and Where the Conflict Really Lies

If Peter Jackson gave the LOTR cast unnecessary internal conflicts, then the Rings of Power writers have done it on steroids.

The third and fourth episodes of Rings of Power have aired as of September 16th. Thousands of reviews have fountained across the internet over the last couple of weeks, some from rankled fans, others from satisfied enthusiasts, and others with both good and bad things to report. The show, as we all anticipated, has not gone without its fair share of controversy and pushback, but for this review, I want to lay those conversations aside and instead focus on some pros and cons of the recent episodes from my own perspective. To begin on a positive note, I enjoyed these last couple of episodes much more than the first two. The storyline seems to be getting somewhere. Galadriel is being…

concept-of-robots-replacing-humans-in-offices-stockpack-adobe-stock
Concept of robots replacing humans in offices

AI Is Not Taking Away Our Jobs — Because It Can’t Do Them

Robert J. Marks talks with KSCJ talk show host Mark Hahn about HAL 9000 and the opportunities and fundamental limits of AI

In the “Top Gun, HAL 9000, and Jobs of the Future” podcast (September 15, 2022), WBC director Robert J. Marks discusses whether AI is sucking up all our jobs with talk show host Mark Hahn, who can be heard on KSCJ in Sioux City, Iowa. Dr. Marks, author of Non-Computable You is a professor of computer engineering at Baylor University and a pioneer of AI swarm intelligence. This is the second half of the podcast. https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/09/Mind-Matters-Episode-204-Robert-J-Marks.mp3 A partial transcript, notes, and Additional Resources follow. Mark Hahn: Dr. Marks, artificial intelligence is something that many people have fantasized on a science fiction level; many shows have been about that. Of course, in Space Odyssey 2001, HAL took over, and that’s what…

portrait-of-paparazzi-in-a-row-with-cameras-and-microphone-stockpack-adobe-stock
Portrait of paparazzi in a row with cameras and microphone

Tales From Why Mainstream Media Don’t Matter Like They Used To

Two incidents highlight their declining ability to just plain report. That’s BECOME the news story in many situations

Recently, I wrote about the way mainstream media (MSM), facing a steep and steady decline in profitability, public interest, and public trust, have reached the point where politicians can ignore them with impunity. The politicians haven’t changed; rather, the voters have. MSM probably don’t play nearly as big a role in how voters (and consumers) make up their minds today as do social media — after all, social media is where the advertising dollars have gone, and it’s probably no accident… No longer needed for basic information, MSM now mainly advertise the views of a social elite to the public. A longtime newsman recently mourned the loss of objectivity, but the transition to upscale soapbox has made that loss inevitable…

dog and human faces
rhodesian ridgeback

Human Exceptionalism is a Central Theme for Novelist Dean Koontz

Bestselling author Dean Koontz talks fiction, human exceptionalism, and transhumanism with Wesley J. Smith in new podcast episode (Part II)

In Part I of this two-part series, we looked at Dean Koontz’s remarks on the purpose of art and the unique role of the novelist in today’s “everything is political” environment. But that’s not all he and Smith discussed on the Humanize Podcast on September 12th. Both had a lot to say about human exceptionalism, authoritarianism, and also…dogs! Koontz spoke about his love for the pups at the end of the episode, but first, discussed how the “animal rights” movement has gone wrong, and how a materialistic worldview can lead to despair.   Smith commented how human exceptionalism is a central theme in Koontz’s novels and asked the reason, to which Koontz responded, “There’s no civilization if we don’t recognize…

army-aerospace-engineers-work-on-unmanned-aerial-vehicle-drone-uniformed-aviation-experts-talk-using-laptop-industrial-facility-with-aircraft-for-surveillance-warfare-tactics-air-strike-stockpack-adobe-stock
Army Aerospace Engineers Work On Unmanned Aerial Vehicle / Drone. Uniformed Aviation Experts Talk, Using Laptop. Industrial Facility with Aircraft for: Surveillance, Warfare Tactics, Air Strike

Marks Tells Medved: Top Gun (2022) Is Way Out of Date

Computer science prof Robert J. Marks argues in Non-Computable You, that in the 21st century, drones offer significant advantages over fighter pilots

In the “Top Gun, HAL 9000, and Jobs of the Future” podcast (September 15, 2022), WBC director Robert J. Marks discusses a theme from his new book Non-Computable You with talk show host Michael Medved: Can drones should replace pilots in warfare? Dr. Marks, a professor of computer engineering at Baylor University, is also the author of The Case for Killer Robots: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/09/Mind-Matters-Episode-204-Robert-J-Marks.mp3 A partial transcript, notes, and Additional Resources follow. Michael Medved: Why shouldn’t we be able to replace all those hotshot pilots, like the ones being trained in the movie Top Gun: Maverick — one of the most successful movies ever made, by the way, in terms of its box office receipts? That’s showing pilots doing death-defying, astonishing…

multi-ethnic-teenagers-smiling-outdoor-making-selfie-stockpack-adobe-stock
Multi ethnic teenagers smiling outdoor making selfie

Egnor: Why More Sex Change Medicine for Teens in US Than Europe?

One factor in the difference between the United States and Europe may be less accurate information in the United States

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor offers a look at the radical trend to medicine and life-altering surgery based on teen identity issues: Despite the logical gibberish, trans-activism has had a frightening impact on medical practice and medical ethics. ‘Gender affirmation’ clinics exist in medical centers across the country, and many clinics offer hormonal treatment and even radical surgery to children and adults. Boston Children’s Hospital — probably the most prominent children’s hospital in the country —  has offered mastectomies to girls as young as 15 for “gender reassignment,” and has offered patients phalloplasty (the surgical creation of a ‘penis’), metoidioplasty (cutting tissue to lengthen the clitoris), creation of a scrotum with testicular implants, hysterectomy, vaginoplasty (amputation of the penis and testicles with construction of a ‘vagina’)…

concept-image-of-china-africa-economic-relations-bilateral-trade-stockpack-adobe-stock
Concept image of China-Africa economic relations, Bilateral trade,

Journalist: West Is Letting Africa Slide Into China’s Tech Orbit

Mathew Otieno points out that China slid easily into the space left by the former Soviet Union. — liked just for not being Western

Kenyan tech reporter Mathew Otieno warns that, as Africa goes high-tech, it is mainly on totalitarian China’s terms. He doesn’t spare feelings: “A combination of arrogance and indifference is proving fatal to Western interests” Most of Africa’s signature modern infrastructure projects, from railways and roads to dams and ports, have been, or are being, built or upgraded by Chinese firms, many of them state-owned, with funding from Chinese loans and grants. Even the building currently housing the headquarters of the African Union was a wholesale Chinese gift, from foundations to rafters. Mathew Otieno, “The West is letting Africa slide into China’s orbit. It doesn’t have to” at MercatorNet (August 31, 2022) Many warn of a debt trap for the emerging…

unicorn-on-gold-cube-mountain-start-up-illustration-concept-of-leader-on-a-market3d-rendering-3d-illustration-stockpack-adobe-stock
unicorn on gold cube mountain . start up, illustration concept of leader on a market.3d rendering. 3d illustration.

Warning: Unicorn Stocks May Be Nearing Bankruptcy, Fire Sales

Uber, Airbnb, and DoorDash seem so lifestyle-friendly … they even became part of our vocabulary

In an article today, Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith puzzle over the way investors have “rained cash” on unprofitable companies like Uber, Airbnb, DoorDash, etc. Yes, they are icons of popular culture. No, unlike Apple and Google, they do not make money: Here are their stats from the table the authors offer: Company Founded Funds Raised Cumulative LossesUber Technologies 2009 $25.2 billion $31.7 billionAirbnb 2008 $6.0 billion $6.0 billionDoor Dash 2013 $2.5 billion $4.6 billion Only one of the 15 companies they list — including some other culture icons — has ever had a profitable quarter: Any hopeful arguments that profitability is just around the corner ring hollow when every company is at least nine years old and two are…

Boy running through flying books
boy standing on the opened book and looking at other books floating in the air, digital art style, illustration painting

Art, Propaganda, and the Role of the Novelist

Bestselling author Dean Koontz talks fiction, human exceptionalism, and transhumanism with Wesley J. Smith in new podcast episode (Part I)

Dean Koontz is a renowned novelist, known for books such as Devoted, The Big Dark Sky, and Odd Thomas. His books have topped the charts as New York Times bestsellers, and at age 77, he doesn’t plan on quitting the craft of fiction any time soon. He is also a longtime proponent of intelligent design and human exceptionalism, both of which find their footing in his many writings. On September 12th, Koontz was featured on the Humanize Podcast, where he and Wesley J. Smith, Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute’s Center for Human Exceptionalism, discussed Koontz’s career as a writer as well as some of the central themes that pervade Koontz’s work. For Part I of this two-part discussion on the…

network-connected-across-planet-earth-view-from-space-concept-of-smart-wireless-communication-technology-some-elements-of-this-image-furnished-by-nasa-stockpack-adobe-stock
Network connected across planet Earth ,  view from space. Concept of smart wireless communication technology . Some elements of this image furnished by NASA

Google Cloud’s Ankur Jain To Speak at COSM 2022

One of his key initiatives is bringing internet connectivity to less well-served parts of the globe.

Ankur Jain, VP Engineering for Google Cloud for Telecom, Distributed Cloud, and Immersive Stream, will be speaking at COSM 2022, November 9–11 in Bellevue, Washington. Go here to get the Early Adopter rate before September 15 (tomorrow). At work, he has focused on cross-Google programs like cloud computing, mobile communications, 5G, and privacy issues. One of his key initiatives is bringing internet connectivity to less well-served parts of the globe. He noted in 2017, “As people increasingly access the Internet through their mobile devices, mobile operators are now designing their next-generation networks based on many of the same principles that we’ve adopted to power our own networking infrastructure.” In his current position, he leads Google Cloud’s Telco, Distributed Cloud Edge,…

cheating-on-a-test-stockpack-adobe-stock
Cheating on a Test

Study: AI Fails To Catch Cheaters on an Exam

In a test of the Proctorio system, students who were told to try to cheat found a variety of ways to fool the system

Is AI the answer to student cheating on tests? Not that you’d know it from a recent study of AI detection system Proctorio at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. Proctorio tracks students’ eye movements and body language while taking exams to flag “suspicious” behavior. So, as Vice tells it, 30 computer science student volunteers were told to take a first year exam that that system supervised. Six were told to cheat, five were told to act suspiciously without really cheating, and the rest were told to just write the test: The results confirmed that Proctorio is not good at catching cheaters. The system did not flag any of the cheaters as cheating. Some used virtual machines, a known…

close-up-of-top-important-cryptocurrencies-which-dollar-bank-note-in-background-which-including-of-bitcoin-ethereum-litecoin-dash-zcash-and-ripple-coin-business-and-financial-as-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock
Close up of top important cryptocurrencies which dollar bank note in background. which including of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash, Zcash and Ripple coin. Business and financial as concept.

What Happens If You Want To Lend or Borrow in Crypto?

In the world of Web 3.0, the borrower is anonymous, so collateral is a must

In this second part of “Staking and Liquidity on Web3”, the fifth episode of the podcast series between computer engineering prof Robert J. Marks and engineers Austin Egbert and Adam Goad, the discussion centers on making and taking loans in cryptocurrency. In the first part, we looked at changes in how cryptocurrency is produced: Ethereum is moving from mining to staking this month. In Episode 4, the discussion centered on what a decentralized financial system would look like and on challenging new concepts like flash loans and smart contracts. Dr. Marks is the director of the Walter Bradley Center. https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/08/Mind-Matters-203-Adam-Goad-Austin-Egbert.mp3 A partial transcript of the first part, notes, and Additional Resources follow: Robert J. Marks: Now there’s something in staking…

human-hand-is-holding-electric-car-charging-connect-to-electric-car-stockpack-adobe-stock
Human hand is holding Electric Car Charging connect to Electric car

Cars of the Future Will Offer “Electrifying” Rides — Guaranteed

Electric car expert Tony Posawatz will be speaking about new industry developments at COSM 2022

After forty years in the car business, professional engineer Tony Posawatz, is optimistic about the future of electric vehicles (EVs). At Forbes, he was mooted to replace Elon Musk at Tesla in 2018. Well, one thing Posawatz would not do is jump into an expensive catfight with… Twitter. He is wholly focused on ACES, as it is called: Autonomous, Connected, Electric & Shared vehicles, as the future of private transportation. Go here to get the Early Adopter rate before September 15. Current CEO of Invictus iCAR, a consulting firm that specializes in making cars leaner, meaner, and greener, Posawatz describes himself as “known for championing award-winning products and electrifying rides.” His interests and achievements span many automotive areas: “His product/general…