Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

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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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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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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).

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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 ›
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Mortar Board on top of keyboard

Artificial Intelligence Is Actually Superficial Intelligence

The confusing ways the word “intelligence” is used belie the differences between human intelligence and machine sophistication

Words often have more meaning than we hear at first. Consider colors. We associate green with verdant, healthy life and red with prohibition and danger. But these inferences are not embedded in the basic meaning of “red” or “green.” They are cultural accretions we attach to words that enable the richness of language. That, by the way, is one reason why legal documents and technical papers are so difficult to read. The terms used are stripped clean of such baggage, requiring additional words to fill the gaps. The word “intelligent” is like that. Saying that a computer, or a program, is intelligent can lead us down a rabbit hole of extra meaning. An honest researcher merely means the computer has Read More ›

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It Takes a Smart Robot to Mimic a Reptile

When researchers built a robot to sprawl like a prehistoric reptile, they were in for a surprise
Orobates’ skeleton was “exquisitely preserved,” which created an excellent opportunity for researchers in paleontology to try to figure out how the lizard-like animal moved. And reverse engineering its movements can tell us a lot about how it lived. Read More ›
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Machinist working a loom

Remember the Luddites!

The Luddites became famous for breaking machinery during the Industrial Revolution. Were they entirely wrong?
People often think that the Luddites were merely anti-technology because they opposed automation during the Industrial Revolution (1760–1840). The story is more complex. As we face increasing automation today, we might want to see what we can learn from their history. Read More ›
Composite image of image of data
Composite image of image of data

Part 1: Navigating the Machine Learning Landscape

To choose the right type of machine learning model for your project, you need to answer a few specific questions
Most machine learning systems fall into three main categories—supervised learning, unsupervised learning, and reinforcement learning. The choice of system depends first on which category of machine learning best addresses your situation. Read More ›
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Mission Control Center (MCC), Houston, Texas, during the Gemini 5 flight.

STEM EDUCATION 1. Pursuing Nerd Quality Over Nerd Quantity

Reducing math and science to practice is what engineers do. Scientists didn’t put a man on the moon. Engineers did.
Overall, computer applications will impact our society and culture as much as electricity did. And we’re living smack in the middle of the transformation. Read More ›
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Attendees listening to talk at conference

Boost Your AI Knowledge and Skills at 2019’s Most Promising Conferences

Are you a software developer or business leader? Here’s where you want to be this year
Do you ever feel frustrated when you hear about significant AI developments and you can’t be sure how — or whether — they relate to your organization? Are you missing out? Will a competitor “get it” ahead of your firm? The best strategy is to take a bit of time to get to know the technology, the companies, the people, and the ideas personally. Read More ›
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Sparkler between two hands

The Creative Spark

An information theory justification for the intrinsic value of human beings
Because creativity is unique to humans and irreducible, all human beings have the ability in principle. The fact that a particular human being’s creativity is not in use or is perhaps unusable at present does not mean that that person does not have the ability. Consequently, all humans have at least latent intrinsic instrumental value. Read More ›