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Beyond the Google Search

Today's search technology may provide us with an "answer" we did not work for and won't remember

While a search engine or online encyclopedia may be a convenient first resort, you should see it as merely a starting point. From there, you can turn to other resources, either online or in person.

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If Social Robots Could Cry, They’d Need Plenty of Tissues For This One

The spate of recent failures of social robot firms prompts a question: Are developers listening to markets?

It’s safe to say that most human beings alive today would not want a high level of emotional involvement with a robot.

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What It Really Takes to Build a High-Tech Company, Sell It, and Get Rich

Inventor and entrepreneur Hal Philipp offers a rewarding but cautionary true story

The road to the success that Hal Philipp enjoys today was laced with landmines. When money starts rolling in, entrepreneurs must expect lawsuits. But perseverance and a strong character won the day. 

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blue cells dividing

Scientists’ Definition of Life Excludes AI, but Includes Embryos

A sophisticated AI machine would certainly be worth a lot of money but it has no more moral worth than a broken toaster

Speaking of moral value, the professors’ proposed definition would certainly include the earliest human embryos, their status as “human life” often denied by those who wish to justify their wanton destruction or casual instrumental use as natural resources.

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Does the Butterfly Effect Sharply Limit AI’s Power?

Our world and our lives are more complex, and even chaotic, than math allows

Edward Lorenz discovered that certain systems—notably those in which we live and move, such as weather, economies, and traffic—are inherently unpredictable.

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Can Physics Prove There Is No Free Will?

No, but it can make physicists incoherent when they write about free will

It’s hilarious. Sabine Hossenfelder misses the irony that she insists that people “change their minds” by accepting her assertion that they… can’t change their minds. 

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Machine learning , artificial intelligence , ai, deep learning blockchain neural network concept. Brain made with shining wireframe above multiple blockchain cpu on circuit board 3d render.

Need Cash Fast? Just Pretend That You Wrote Software

Tesla is not the first company to announce software it hasn’t written, but it is indeed the most brazen

Software engineers call imaginary products “vaporware.” And if the tag fits, it wouldn’t be the first time that Tesla has marketed an illusion.

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Taxi in traffic

News from the Real World of Self-Driving Taxis: Not Yet

WayMo includes a human in all their “robotaxis,” just in case, because the vehicles (at last report) were still confounded by common conditions

Hype serves no one other than the early investors hoping to get their cash back. Calm evaluations—and an appreciation for the amazing beings that humans are—would serve all of us much better than overpromised claims that are doomed to under deliver.

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Artificial Intelligence: Prophets in Conflict

A total of 48 AI experts tell us what it all means but their predictions strongly disagree

Architects of Intelligence: The truth about AI from the people building it (2018) compiled by futurist Martin Ford (23 experts) and Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI (2019), compiled by John Brockman (25 experts) offer a total of 45 experts foretelling our future. Some experts, Rodney Brooks (Rethink Robotics), Judea Pearl (UCLA), and Stuart Russell (UC Berkeley), were interviewed for both books, which is why the number sums to 45, not 48. The major disagreements among contributors to both Architects of Intelligence and Possible Minds (2019) are the classic ones: Whether AI will have human-like intelligence and/or wipe us out. And yet, as a reviewer of both books notes, Almost everyone agrees that certain questions — when general Read More ›

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Will AI Teach Us to Love Big Brother?

A trend watcher fears that we’ll accept total surveillance if it controls crime and addiction

If China becomes the dominant world power through total control, David Mattin argues, it will erode the Western world’s governing myth that liberal democracy is the best system.

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The Human Brain: Even Basic Facts Are Hotly Contested

Keep that in mind when AI boosters claim that their product will function like a human brain

When we read that “Scientists Are Closer to Making Artificial Brains That Operate Like Ours Do”, we might ask: If career researchers dispute the question of how the brain works at basic levels, how can non-experts be so sure they have replicated it?

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Unordnung im Kinderzimmer, Playmobil - und Legosteine warten auf eine Zusammensetzung
Legos and toys for assembly

Computers Are No Smarter Than Tinkertoys

Philosopher: You may as well believe that Penn and Teller really do magic

Philosopher Ed Feser wrote a great post recently on why it is irrational to believe that artificial intelligence is really intelligent. He begins with Arthur C. Clarke’s famous observation that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Clarke’s assertion, he points out, can be taken two ways: people can be fooled into thinking that advanced technology is magic and, as a metaphysical assertion, that advanced technology really is magic. He defends the first assertion and, of course, denies the second: There are, however, many people who believe a claim that is analogous to, and as silly as, the metaphysical thesis that sufficiently advanced technology really is magic — namely the claim that a machine running a sufficiently advanced computer Read More ›

Screws, bolts and nuts on metal background
Screws, bolts and nuts on metal background

Identity Politics Goes High Tech

Does high tech simply cater to tribalism or make it worse?

The simmering controversy sometimes explodes into serious charges. For example, The Department of Housing and Urban Development has launched a Fair Housing Act complaint against Facebook for targeting customers in a way that may constitute discrimination.

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gloved hands with the laboratory tubes
Bacteria in Petri dish

Even Bacteria Are Purpose-Driven

The recent finding that bacteria can make individual decisions may help design better antibiotics

Does this mean that bacteria have free will? Not really; as Michael Egnor reminds us, free will is an immaterial quality of the reasoning mind. Life forms that lack a reasoning mind make decisions based only on their needs or desires.

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