Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

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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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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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Can We Write Creative Computer Programs?

As Robert J. Marks tells World Radio, people have tried making computers creative but no luck
The Bradley Center director pointed out, in a wide-ranging discussion, that programmers cannot write programs that are more creative than they themselves are. Read More ›
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Even Elon Musk Can’t Get a Robotaxi These Days

His recent earnings call makes clear that few think his promised million-taxi fleet is real-world
I get the feeling that even Musk's faithful followers are beginning to doubt the hype and are instead focusing on the core business aspects, the questions Musk dismissed last year as boring. Read More ›
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We Built the Power Big Social Media Have Over Us

Click by click, and the machines learned the patterns. Now we aren’t sure who is in charge

We’re stuck, working for free, training the Web giants’ ML systems to reap benefits for them while enduring (assuming we notice) the downsides.

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Spot on the road with shoes of people gathered around it.

Jordan Peterson’s New “Thinkspot” Takes Shape

Analysts ask, can his proposed rules work?

What about the problem of expecting people to pay? Perhaps most people are so used to getting their social media for free for the same reasons as turkeys get their feed for free—because they’re the product—that they willingly submit to censorship?

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George Gilder talking with Peter Robinson at the Hoover Institution

George Gilder on the Real-Life Prospects — and Limits — of AI

Gilder, who is organizing the COSM conference in Bellevue, Washington, in October, clears the fog about “the cloud”

The “cloud” of cloud computing, that Gilder predicted, is things, not ideas. Thus it is subject to the limits of things, as opposed to the limits of ideas. It’s reasonable to ask where that limit is. It is probably both a question and an answer that we can understand.

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High Tech Can Help the Blind See and Amputees Feel

It’s not a miracle; the human nervous system can work with electronic information

The electronic devices communicate directly with sensory areas of the brain, bypassing damaged or destroyed eyes and limbs. 

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A Materialist Neuroscientist Continues the Argument with Himself

On the topic of “intellectual seizures,” he seems committed to both points of view

I assert that intellectual seizures do not exist. Dr. Ali asserts that they do exist and that they do not. The difference between their existence and their non-existence seems to be Dr. Ali’s rhetorical needs of the moment.

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Even Uber didn’t believe in Uber’s self-driving taxis

We found that out after Google’s Waymo sued the company

Optimism is not driving the recent collaboration and corporate consolidation in the self-driving car industry. Rather, their retrenchment is protection against an uncertain future.

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Different types of computers and storage

Is the Human Mind a Computer?

As a software engineer, I'd say we need to be clear what the question is before answering it

Once we understand clearly what a computer is, we will see why consciousness is not a form of computation.

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Young man (backpacker, hitchhiker) on the high-speed highway not far from Kashgar in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in China’s far west

The Internet Doesn’t Free Anyone by Itself

China is testing 100% surveillance on the Uighurs, a strategically critical minority

The Uyghur people in Xinjiang province in northwest China spend their lives in a digital panopticon. Over 2.5 million Muslims are tracked via facial recognition software and cameras, and their cell phone monitored for any language that could be construed as religious. Over a million have been placed in so-called “vocational training centers” that are widely described as detention camps. Even when not detained, they live like prisoners: For Uyghurs in Xinjiang, any kind of contact from a non-Chinese phone number, though not officially illegal, can result in instant arrest. Most Uyghurs in Turkey have been deleted by their families on social media. And many wouldn’t dare try to make contact, for fear Chinese authorities would punish their relatives. Isobel Read More ›

Drawing gears

We went back to visit Gödel, Escher, and Bach…

Forty years after publication, how has a big explain-the-mind book withstood the test of time?

Is there evidence that human minds function like computers and can soon be reproduced in software, as Hofstadter believed?

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Lady obstructs view of her face with her hands

You Think You Have Nothing To Hide?

Then why are Big Tech moguls making billions from what you and others tell them?

The bottom line is this: if you think you don’t have anything to hide, then you don’t understand how the modern data economy really works, nor the impact of being caught in a riptide of public opinion.

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Chinese Technocracy Surges Ahead with AI Surveillance

So what do the reservations expressed, about “the soul” and “love,” really mean?

Both big tech entrepreneurs Kai-Fu Lee and Jack Ma seem to believe in souls but do not believe that souls can be trusted with freedom, the way governments can.

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Business concept for group of stacked paperclip with another one red plane paperclip is point to another direction as a team leadership

Can Materialism Explain Abstract Thought? Part II

Now Dr. Ali argues with Dr. Ali

I know of no report in medical history of an abstract thought evoked by a seizure or by brain stimulation. Which is odd, if the brain causes abstract thought.

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Helmeted police officers photographed from behind during a protest

Can AI Predict and Prevent Political Unrest?

The 1996 Democratic Convention tried neural networks but discovered a hidden flaw

The police union’s 1996 objection to fingering specific officers as violence risks without a detailed explanation pinpoints a weakness of neural networks even to this day. The neural network is basically a black box.

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If Thinking Can Heal, Why Do We Need Antidepressants?

J.P. Moreland, who struggles with anxiety disorders, likens medications to engine oil for the brain

“If you’re driving your car and you’re low or don’t have any oil, parts of the engine are going to rub against one another and it’s going to cause a lot of friction and dysfunction.”

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Balancing A Male And A Female Worker In The Cloud

Why It’s So Hard To Reform Peer Review

Robert J. Marks: Reformers are battling numerical laws that govern how incentives work. Know your enemy!

Measurement creates a temptation to achieve a measurable goal by less than totally honest means. As in physics, the simple act of measuring invariably disturbs what you are trying to measure.

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