Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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Human brain neuronal stimulation or activity with the close-up of a neuron cell 3D rendering illustration. Neuroscience, neurology, medicine, science, cognition, intelligence, psychology concepts.

What Is Happening When Children Have Strokes or Dementia Signs?

Many children who would have died 40 years ago can live a relatively full life today but they are at risk of stroke or dementia

In the podcast released yesterday, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed pediatric neurologist Dr. Andrew Knox from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health on “Ways the brain can break” (#220, January 5, 2023). What follows reflects Part 2 of the discussion. Here’s Part 1: How our brains are — and aren’t — like computers. https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/12/Mind-Matters-220-Andrew-Knox-Episode-1.mp3 This portion begins at roughly 10:50 min. A partial transcript and notes, and Additional Resources follow. Andrew Knox: If you had a stroke in what we would call a primary motor area, an area with the connections to motor pathways through the rest of the body — all of those patients might lose the ability to move their arm Read More ›

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mini robot work

Can a Chatbot Tell Jokes. Yes, If They Are Stale

As chatbots sort through the vast mass of online information for appropriate responses to questions, jokes were bound to come up

Corinne Purtill reported a year ago at Time Magazine on Jon the Robot, a chatbot that was programmed to learn to tell stand-up comedy jokes: An experiment billed as a comedy act, Jon is the brainchild of Naomi Fitter, an assistant professor in the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Oregon State University. The tiny android performs when a handler (who must also hold the mic) presses a button, then tells the same jokes in the same order, like a grizzled veteran comic at a down-market Vegas casino. Corinne Purtill, “Artificial Intelligence Can Now Craft Original Jokes—And That’s No Laughing Matter” at Time 2030 (January 4, 2022) But the robot’s act is more human than it might first Read More ›

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Neuron cells sending electrical chemical signals. 3d illustration .

How Our Brains Are — and Aren’t — Like Computers

Pediatric neurologist Andrew Knox looks at the topic with computer engineer Robert J. Marks

In the podcast released today, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed pediatric neurologist Dr. Andrew Knox from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health on “Ways the brain can break” (#220, January 5, 2023): The brain is a marvelous organ still not understood. Artificial neural networks are supposed to be a simulation of the human brain. But comparing the brain to an artificial neural network is like comparing the human heart to a pump handle. Dr. Andrew Knox and Dr. Robert J. Marks discuss the brain, aging, and neurology. https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/12/Mind-Matters-220-Andrew-Knox-Episode-1.mp3 This portion begins at 00:04 min. A partial transcript and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: I got to ask you kind of a personal Read More ›

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An internet email symbol and a group of people are separated by a red prohibitory symbol No. restrictions on access to the global Internet. Censorship. Information control, society isolation policy

Big Tech Censorship Goes Well Beyond Twitter

Big Tech media is not, in itself, an answer to current legacy mainstream media if we would like to know information that our betters would prefer that we didn't

The big news (if it is even news) is that most Big Tech media are involved in censorship of opinions disapproved by the governing elite. Elon Musk has certainly shone a light by buying Twitter and releasing the house files to independent journalists. Legacy media entities still refuse to cover the story seriously (probably because they cannot take inevitable further blows to their relevance, numbers, or prestige) First, some updates on the Twitter Files via indie journalist Matt Taibbi: Twitter files 11 deals with — among other things — the way Twitter was pressured in 2016 by political friends, then out of power, to discover that there was Russian involvement in the outcome of the U.S. 2016 election. Twitter was Read More ›

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Top mark on essay

Students Depend on ChatGPT for Final Exams

The new bot will only get better from here, but it won’t help students become better thinkers

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s new artificial intelligence chatbot, has made headlines for over a month now, and for good reason. It’s an advanced bot designed to problem solve. It can “converse” with people on a range of topics. A problem for us to solve now is how to deal with ChatGPT’s invasion into the sphere of education. Students report using ChatGPT on final exams and papers according to a recent write-up from The College Fix. One College of Staten Island student used the bot on both final exams and “got As on both.” He commented that “half the kids in my class used it.” The student also noted that he used the chatbot to complete a multiple-choice exam, on which he got Read More ›

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tv studio camera recording male reporter or anchorman. Live broadcasting

Trend: Steeper Decline in TV, Hollywood — and Comic Books

It’s as if the public has simply lost the sense that the media represent the average watcher or reader — and that’s probably true in many cases

We’ve already noted the significant decline in circulation and collapse of trust in major newspapers (online or in print). But 2022 reported steep declines in other media as well. From the entertainment industry’s Variety mag, we learn that while there were some winners in TV — ESPN, crime shows, and digi-nets — most TV of all types continued to see losses, many of them double-digit losses. As commentator Don Surber noted, “The drop in viewers came despite an Olympics, a popular war and a federal election.” The drop in viewers is reflected in an overall drop in revenue, projected to continue. A highlight from Samba TV’s State of Viewership report: Gen Z and millennials are driving the shift away from Read More ›

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Evolving Soul Geometry

Brain Scientist: Consciousness Didn’t Evolve. It Creates Evolution

With a tremor in his voice, Donald Hoffman tells Robert Lawrence Kuhn that even the Big Bang must be understood in a universe where consciousness is fundamental

In a recent episode of Closer to Truth, Robert Lawrence Kuhn interviewed University of California cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman on a challenging topic, “Why did consciousness emerge? (7:41 min, December 10, 2022): There was a time when there was no consciousness in our universe. Now there is. What caused consciousness to emerge? Did consciousness develop in the same way that, say, the liver or the eye developed, by random mutation and fitness selection during evolution? Inner experience seems to be radically different from anything else. Are we fooling ourselves? Donald Hoffman is the author of Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See and coauthor of Observer Mechanics: A Formal Theory Of Perception (Norton, 2000) A partial transcript and some Read More ›

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intellectual property. light bulb with chain

MIT Takes Steps Toward Meaningful Free Expression

The most significant line: "We cannot prohibit speech that some experience as offensive or injurious"

Anyone familiar with the campus scene today knows that many disciplines are dedicated to anything but open inquiry. The academy is full of true stories about Canceled profs and students. Not “failed” students and profs, notice, but Canceled. Massachusetts Institute Of Technology (the famous MIT) appears to be breaking the mold by adopting free speech principles by a faculty senate vote of 98 to 52. A key passage: At the intersection of the ideal of free expression and MIT community values lies the expectation of a collegial and respectful learning and working environment. We cannot prohibit speech that some experience as offensive or injurious. At the same time, MIT deeply values civility, mutual respect, and uninhibited, wide-open debate. In fostering Read More ›

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Cat hunter with a caught mouse in her mouth

Can Animals Be Held Criminally Responsible for Their Acts?

While the idea is handled provocatively in philosophy literature, in practice, animals are envisioned as plaintiffs, not defendants, in animal rights cases

In an essay at Psyche, Ed Simon, a journalist who investigates the eclectic, looks at the history/mythology of trying animals like pigs and rats for criminal offenses. He sees an opportunity there for animal rights activism: Dismissing animal trials as just another backwards practice of a primitive time is to our intellectual detriment, not only because it imposes a pernicious presentism on the past, but also because it’s worth considering whether or not the broader implications of such a ritual don’t have something to tell us about different ways of understanding nonhuman consciousness, and the rights that our fellow creatures deserve. From our metaphysics, then, can come our ethics, and from our ethics can derive politics and law. There need Read More ›

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Chat bot and future marketing concept , Chatbot icon , Hand holding mobile phone with automatic chatbot message screen with abstract background

Let’s Call AI What It Really Is: Faux Intelligence

Gary Smith at Salon: While GPT-3 can string words together in convincing ways, it has no idea what the words mean

Pomona College business and investments prof Gary Smith warns Salon readers not to be too gullible about what human-sounding chatbots really amount to. He notes that in the 1960s, a pioneer chatbot called ELIZA convinced many psychiatric patients that they were interacting with a real psychiatrist. The machine simply repeated back their statements as questions, a popular psychiatric technique at the time because it generated more and more discussion — from the patient. The patients’ belief that they were interacting with a human being came to be called the Eliza effect. Has much changed? If you play around with GPT-3 (and I encourage you to do so) your initial response is likely to be astonishment — a full-blown Eliza effect. Read More ›

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beardy guy sitting alone on a river coast, enjoying the sunset, thinking

If You Make One Resolution in 2023, It Should Be This: Experts

Humans were born to think. To pause in order to think. Excessive social media use disrupts that ability

This story originally appeared at the New York Post (December 31, 2022) Remember those bathroom readers filled with trivia, factoids, and stories? They’ve been entertaining in the throne room since 1988. Though the 35th anniversary edition came out last fall, it probably won’t hit the bestseller lists.  The truth is most of us have something else to distract us in the bathroom — our smartphones. We pull them out on the john, at stoplights, in line at checkout, while we pump gas — virtually anywhere we have to wait for more than ten seconds. The lure of social stimuli gives us a dopamine hit that keeps us coming back any time we get a minute.  But what if we’re cheating ourselves out Read More ›

transcranial magnetic stimulation
Female doctor does transcranial magnetic stimulation the man with a broken spine. Physiotherapy. Electrotherapeutic treatment of the back.

Recalling the Hype Around Magnets That “End Belief in God”…

The 2015 claim that transcranial magnetic stimulation reduced religious belief in research subjects received wide publicity via a then-active New Atheist movement

Researcher Joel Furches, whose area of specialty is religious deconversion, recalls the 2015 hype around magnets and God: In 2015, religious and atheist forums exploded with news of an experiment performed out at the University of California. Social media feeds were splashed with headlines like “Directing Magnetic Energy Into The Brian Can Reduce Belief In God,” “Scientists reduce belief in God by shutting down the brain’s medial frontal cortex,” and the far more on-the-nose “Scientists Claim Zapping Brains with Magnets Can Treat Belief in God”. Joel Furches, “Magnets, the Human Brain, and God” at Patheos (December 19, 2022) The New Atheist movement was pretty strong at that time (it did not become the godlessness that failed until a few years Read More ›

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zen garden meditation stone background with stone and lines in sand for relaxation balance and harmony spirituality or spa wellness

Philosopher: I Accept Dualism But Don’t Believe in the Soul

David Chalmers, whose background is in physics, talks to Robert Lawrence Kuhn at Closer to Truth about his struggle to accept that the mind is immaterial

David Chalmers, the New York University philosopher who coined the term “Hard Problem of Consciousness” was willing to take the risk of openly identifying as a dualist — that is, he believes that, on evidence, the human mind is immaterial. On that view, widely accepted worldwide, the human being has a dual nature: a material body and an immaterial mind. But Chalmers draws the line at believing in the existence of a soul. Here is his discussion at Closer to Truth with Robert Lawrence Kuhn, “Is the ‘Soul’ Immortal?” (May 4, 2021, 9:06 min): The claim that human beings have or are an ‘immortal soul’ goes back to the ancient Greeks, if not further. In a pre-scientific world, it would Read More ›

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Hand in a white glove pulling curtain away

Google: Rank Censorship Behind the Scenes

We live under a state of highly sophisticated and ubiquitous suppression of disfavored voices

One year ago today (January 1st, 2022) we saw behind the curtain at Google. With vast information scattered across a billion websites, whoever controls the search algorithm largely controls information. And if Google.com were a stage, the spotlight is centered squarely on the first result, with some ambient light spilling onto a few supporting roles. The second page results are essentially extras, unlikely to catch the attention of the audience at all. About 25% of web searchers click that first result. Another 50% follow one of the next half-dozen. A scant 6% will ever make it to the second page.* If your breaking news, breakthrough product, or bold opinion piece isn’t in a starring role on that first page, it will languish Read More ›

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Deep Space

The Search for Extraterrestrial Life 16

The Webb wraps up a year of solid achievements, including the first direct image of an exoplanet

In our universe: Most distant galaxies observed in 2022: “Webb was made to observe the most distant galaxies in the universe, and in mid-December, scientists confirmed that they had done just that. The telescope has officially observed the four most distant galaxies known, which also means they are the oldest. Webb observed the galaxies as they appeared about 13.4 billion years ago, when the universe was only 350 million years old, about 2% of its current age.” – Rebecca Sohn, Space.com, December 29, 2022 Meanwhile, a much bigger telescope array, the multinational SKAO project, is under construction: Composed of respectively hundreds of dishes and thousands of antennas, the SKAO’s telescopes will be the two most advanced radio telescopes on Earth. Read More ›

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Abstract apocalyptic background - burning and exploding planet . digital art style, illustration painting

Should a Woman Die in Order to Save a Race of Robots?

In The Orville, Episode 9, Charly is confronted with that very choice

In Part 1 of my review of Orville Season Three, Episode 9, Charly and Isaac had invented a doomsday EMP device that can annihilate the robotic Kaylon. Ed doesn’t want to use the device to wipe out the entire robotic species because he thinks they are alive, though why he thinks so is never made clear. But, oh well. The Union decides to offer the Kaylon a peace treaty, and the robots accept the deal. However, unbeknownst to our heroes — such as they are — one member of the Union decides it would be better to destroy the Kaylon, and hands the device over to the humanoid Moclans and the reptilian Krill, who have recently formed an alliance. The Read More ›

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The Big Bang

James Webb Space Telescope Shows Big Bang Didn’t Happen? Wait…

The unexpected new data coming back from the telescope are inspiring panic among astronomers

This story was #1 in 2022 at Mind Matters News in terms of reader numbers. As we approach the New Year, we are rerunning the top ten stories of 2022, based on reader interest. In “James Webb Space Telescope shows Big Bang didn’t happen? Wait…”, our News division looked at reports that the unexpected new data coming back from the telescope were inspiring panic among astronomers: Webb was expected to merely confirm the Standard Model of the universe but its images are “surprisingly smooth, surprisingly small and surprisingly old.” (August 13, 2022) Our view at the time: 1) It’s no surprise if the Webb disconfirmed some widely accepted assumptions. New vistas do that. In fact, that’s how we know for Read More ›

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Depression and sadness concept artwork

Is Depression an Altered Global State of Consciousness?

Cecily Whiteley and Jonathan Birch from the London School of Economics and Political Science argue that altered consciousness prevents depressed people from just "seeing the bright side"

PhD student Cecily Whiteley and philosophy prof Jonathan Birch, both of the London School of Economics and Political Science, think that depression is often misunderstood. In this 2021 article, noted again at Psyche, they point out that it is not just “feeling low”; it is an altered form of consciousness: The psychologist Andrew Solomon hints at some of these transformations in his memoir The Noonday Demon (2001): “When you are depressed, the past and future are absorbed entirely by the present moment, as in the world of a three-year-old. You cannot remember a time when you felt better, at least not clearly; and you certainly cannot imagine a future time when you will feel better. Being upset, even profoundly upset, Read More ›

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Glowing huge nebula with young stars. Space background

Has a Superintellect Monkeyed With Our Universe’s Physics?

Groundbreaking astronomer Fred Hoyle was a staunch atheist but then he tried showing that carbon, essential to life, could form easily…

This story was #2 in 2022 at Mind Matters News in terms of reader numbers. As we approach the New Year, we are rerunning the top ten stories of 2022, based on reader interest. In “Has a superintellect monkeyed with our universe’s physics?” (August 14, 2022), our News division looked at the remarkable way that the physics of our universe enables life: Groundbreaking astronomer Fred Hoyle was a staunch atheist but then he tried showing that carbon, essential to life, could form easily… It got worse: To form carbon at all, gravitational forces must be balanced just right with the electromagnetic forces. That’s just the start… https://episodes.castos.com/id/91f5535b-1f52-41d8-ab90-d87ff21a6be1-IDTF-1632-StephenMeyer-God-Multiverse.mp3 Stephen C. Meyer: Now, some of the most important fine tuning parameters were Read More ›

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People taking classes at language school

Some Questions and Answers About Language From Recent Research

The hardest language, the best way to learn a language, and peering into the shadowy origin of language

Can there be such a thing as “the hardest language to learn”? At ZME Science, science writer Tibi Puiu dives into the question, starting with the assumption that the learner is an English speaker: After 70 years of experience teaching languages to American diplomats, the U.S. Foreign Service has grouped foreign languages into four categories of difficulty. The easiest language group requires 575-600 hours of study (23-24 weeks of classroom study) for students to achieve sufficient competence to be posted overseas, whereas the hardest group requires at least 2,200 hours of study (88 weeks of full-time classroom study) to achieve the same level of proficiency. In other words, some languages can be 3-4 times harder to master than others. Tibi Read More ›