Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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invisible man wearing black bowler, surreal concept of absence of identity

Philosopher: I’m Neither Me, Myself nor I… Yet I Give Interviews!

Theoretical philosopher Thomas Metzinger tells his interviewer “Nobody ever had or was a self. Selves are not part of reality.”

It’s remarkable that given the abysmal logical state of modern neuroscience, modern philosophy of mind seems to be in a heated contest to be even more absurd. Secular meditation teacher Michael W. Taft interviewed leading theoretical philosopher Thomas Metzinger. Here is one set of Taft’s and Metzinger’s questions and answers, and my observations: Michael W. Taft: You’ve written at great length about the experience of selfhood in human beings. So let’s start off by asking, What is the self? Thomas Metzinger: The first thing to understand, I believe, is that there is no thing like “the self.” Nobody ever had or was a self. Selves are not part of reality. Selves are not something that endures over time. The first…

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Oak tree

Yes, Plants May Be Conscious Too, Says Researcher

Paco Calvo has authored many papers in respected journals; his view is another instance of panpsychism overtaking materialism in science

At one time, claims for animal consciousness and/or intelligence focused on, say, chimpanzees and dolphins, where the animals were enough like humans that what is meant by intelligence or consciousness was clear. Maybe not clear enough for a philosopher but clear enough for practical purposes. The octopus’s intelligence came as a bit of a surprise because it is an invertebrate. But these comparisons with mammals and birds showed that we were still talking about the same thing. We are now told in science publications that bees feel and think and that spiders dream. As science edges slowly toward panpsychism (all life forms participate in consciousness), we even learn — in science journals — that viruses are intelligent and cells are…

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Chocolate and vanilla bourbon ice creams

How We Know the Mind Is About Information, Not Matter or Energy

The computer program’s world is one of binary 0 or 1 decisions but the physical world is one of many different shades of more or less

It’s really hard to picture the “mind,” isn’t it? You might think of wavy ghosts, or a spectral light. But nothing very definite. The brain, on the other hand, is very easy to visualize. Images and videos are just a Google away. That’s why it’s easy to assume that our brains are the entities that do our thinking for us. The brain is not only easy to image, it is physical. We can (in theory) touch it. Poke it. The brain even runs off electricity, just like your computer. But what makes a computer run Windows? It isn’t just the transistors on silicon wafers. It isn’t just the electricity coursing through the circuits. Windows itself is a ghostly being, like…

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technician with wafer

Pelosi’s Visit to Taiwan Matters to China. And to Your Computer

China staged an impressive display of military firepower at U.S, lawmaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit Taiwan — prominent in the globally crucial semiconductor “chips” industry

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan at the beginning of August included a meeting with Mark Liu, head of the Taiwan Manufacturing Semiconductor Corporation (TMSC), which is the world’s largest producer of computer microchips — and makes most of the world’s advanced ones. Plans for Pelosi’s visit were first reported in Financial Times, after the trip was rescheduled due to COVID. China responded to the announcement with a global propaganda to present the visit as an act of defiance against the U.S. One China Policy. The U.S. One-China Policy recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China but it does not necessarily agree with the PRC on Taiwan being a part of China.…

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Abstract fractal patterns and shapes. Beautiful abstract background. Сolored waves,spirals, lines and circles. Infinite universe.

Is Ours One of a Few Working Universes Among Countless Flops?

Is that probable? How would we know? Philosopher Stephen C. Meyer offers some suggestions

In this fourth and final portion of a talk at the Dallas Conference on Science and Faith (2021), philosopher Stephen C. Meyer takes on the claim that the fine-tuning of our universe for life can be explained by the multiverse, that is, “there are many other universes with different laws and concepts of physics and different initial conditions, different arrangements that matter in energy at the beginning of those universes. And there are enough such universes to make the improbable features of our universe probable on a mega cosmic scale.” Dr. Meyer is the author of The Return of the God Hypothesis (Harper One, 2021). (A sample of the book is here.) The first portion is here, the second here,…

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The Big Bang

Astrophysicist: Webb Finds May Bring “Revolutionary Changes”

It doesn’t disprove the Big Bang, says Brian Koberlein… but read the fine print. And Fermilab’s Don Lincoln gets the religious implications all wrong

Recently, the James Webb Space Telescope started sending back observations about our universe that started quite the tizzy. Did the Big Bang even happen? More focused: If it happened, did it happen when and how the conventional story runs? At Universe Today, astrophysicist Brian Koberlein tries to put the matter in perspective: Most significantly, it has found more galaxies and more distant galaxies than there should be, and that could lead to some revolutionary changes in our standard model. Our current understanding is that after the big bang the universe went through a period known as the dark ages. During this period the first light of the cosmos had faded, and the first stars and galaxies hadn’t yet formed. Webb…

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Somewhere in extreme deep space far galaxies and habitable exoplanets with rings. 3D rendered background. Elements of this image were furnished by NASA.

News From the Search for Extraterrestrial Life 2

A new ocean planet, a planet with carbon dioxide, and new information about life chances on Mars

What may be an ocean planet has been discovered in the region of the Constellation Draco: An international team of researchers led by Charles Cadieux, a Ph.D. student at the Université de Montréal and member of the Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx), has announced the discovery of TOI-1452 b, an exoplanet orbiting one of two small stars in a binary system located in the Draco constellation about 100 light-years from Earth. The exoplanet is slightly greater in size and mass than Earth and is located at a distance from its star where its temperature would be neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on its surface. The astronomers believe it could be an “ocean planet,”…

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Futuristic multiverse world concept. Downtown with skyscrapers skyline under and cityscape over. Two parallel worlds. Alternative reality dimension

Multiverse of Madness?: It’s a Letdown for the Marvel Universe

I can’t really recommend it because spectacle trumps any sense of the story hanging together and we can infer nothing from past events

The Multiverse of Madness ends with America Chavez training at Kamar-Taj while Dr. Strange and Wong have a final conversation.All the Characters say their goodbyes and Dr. Strange returns home, prepared to move on with his life. Thing’s are looking pretty chipper — that is until a third eye opens on his forehead. This isn’t a big deal but I did think it was a little ridiculous to have a cliffhanger ending followed by a post-credits scene. At any rate, the post-credits scene includes a mysterious woman played by Charlize Theron show up out of nowhere. She tells Dr. Strange that he’s caused an Incursion — a collision between two universes, possibly as a result of multiverse travel. And together,…

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belly of a pregnant woman

Google Employees Demand Corporate War on Crisis Pregnancy Centers

The recent Dobbs decision returning abortion legislation to the states has also spurred abortion activists to violence against pro-life crisis pregnancy centers

Recently, in a petition circulated by the Alphabet Workers Union, 650 Google employees asked the firm to suppress search results for pro-life crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) “by removing results for fake abortion providers” as well as to stop collecting users’ data on abortion-related searches. Yelp has already doubled down against the centers: As the linked story notes, Yelp has decided to flag them with a “consumer notice,” warning users that “Crisis Pregnancy Centers typically provide limited medical services and may not have licensed medical professionals onsite” (translation: no abortionists on staff). Utilizing the common leftist tactic of accusing people who express a different view of dispensing “misinformation,” Yelp said in a statement that “it’s been well-reported” (well… “reported”) “that crisis…

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Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas holds a press briefing, Friday, September 24, 2021, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Hannah Foslien)

U.S. Shuts Down Its Paused Disinformation Governance Board

Faced with resounding unpopularity, the Department of Homeland Security has decided that the Board is not necessary

The Department of Homeland Security, facing widespread backlash, has ended the governance board that would decide what news is “disinformation”: “In accordance with the HSAC’s prior recommendation, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas has terminated the Disinformation Governance Board and rescinded its charter effective today, August 24, 2022. “With the HSAC recommendations as a guide, the Department will continue to address threat streams that undermine the security of our country consistent with the law, while upholding the privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties of the American people and promoting transparency in our work.” “Following HSAC Recommendation, DHS terminates Disinformation Governance Board” at Department of Homeland Security (August 24, 2022) The Board had been placed on hold shortly after its…

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abstract autumn illustration ai generated art

New Text-to-Art Image Generator Easier to Misuse, Critics Say

Relative to DALL-E 2, it is easier to use to generate pornography, as controversial website 4Chan has recently demonstrated

Stable Diffusion, a new open source text-to-art generator (they’re coming thick and fast), dropped a couple of days ago: It has come under fire for some of its more questionable uses. Most uses have been reasonable, according to Kyle Wiggers at TechCrunch, but the problem uses give us a window into potential headaches to come: On the infamous discussion board 4chan, where the model leaked early, several threads are dedicated to AI-generated art of nude celebrities and other forms of generated pornography. Emad Mostaque, the CEO of Stability AI, called it “unfortunate” that the model leaked on 4chan and stressed that the company was working with “leading ethicists and technologies” on safety and other mechanisms around responsible release. One of…

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A man's hand separates people from the Internet. The concept of blocking access to the World Wide Web, self-isolation and traffic filtering. the great firewall. Control over the Internet.

Atheist Philosopher Sam Harris Supports Online Political Censors

Recently, neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris came out in favor of Big Social Media censorship in a Triggernometry YouTube podcast. His comments, as reported in a partial transcript, supported acknowledged BSM efforts to stifle public awareness of of compromising material found on the laptop of Present Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden just prior to the U.S. 2020 election: ‘At that point, Hunter Biden literally could have had the corpses of children in his basement – I would not have cared,’ began the best selling author, who specialises in religion, rationality, and ethics… ‘Now, that doesn’t answer the people who say that it is still completely unfair to not have looked at the laptop in a timely way or to shut…

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WEB 3.0 abstract sign with blockchain 3d illustration

Why Didn’t Decentralized Organizations Work in the Crypto World?

DAOs broke down when people tried to make them interact with the outside world

Here’s the second part of Episode 3 of the discussion between computer engineering prof Robert J. Marks and computer engineering grad students Adam Goad and Austin Egber on the wild new online world. They’ve been talking about non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and what sort of NFTs survived the crypto crater: Now, in the second part of “The NFT Anti-bubble” (August 18, 2022), they look at what happened to the decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) that grew up along with crypto and NFTs: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/08/Mind-Matters-200-Adam-Goad-Austin-Egbert.mp3 A partial transcript, notes, and Additional Resources follow. Austin Egbert: Could you give an example of what one of these DAOs was maybe trying to do? What service were they providing? Or what was their business output, so to…

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The colossal titan is comingAttack On Titan

Big Tech Moguls vs. Historic Titans of Industry: What’s Changed?

Today’s Big Tech moguls were more likely to have been born into fractured relationships and may be seeking an eternal geek adolescence

If we had to compare the giants of industrialization of the late 19th through early 20th centuries — Andrew Carnegie, Thomas A. Edison, Henry Ford, Henry Clay Frick,J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and Cornelius Vanderbilt — with the giants of the contemporary tech world —Jeff Bezos, Jack Dorsey, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs,  Elon Musk, Larry Page, and Mark Zuckerberg — would we see significant differences? Fred Bech tackles that at Expensivity. He finds that the immense fame, power, and wealth are comparable, as is the fact that they took inventions created largely by others and — via business acumen — transformed our way of life.Of course, that means new problems as well as new solutions. Staying in touch with far-distant loved ones is a blessing; viruses, hacking, and Twitter mobs are…

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Ex-Security Head: Twitter Has Much Bigger Woes Than the Bots

Elon Musk’s buyout offer collapsed over the bots. Now, with a court case looming, we learn, bots were only a PART of Twitter’s problems

A new uproar at Twitter sheds an interesting light on Elon Musk’s on again-off again bid to buy the social media firm: Twitter has much bigger problems than bots, according to its former head of security, who just dropped a bomb in claims to the federal government that the site’s security is so lax it’s a risk to national security, and the company allegedly has foreign intelligence agents on the payroll… That former head of security submitted disclosures to those agencies, as well as Congress, detailing what CNN calls “reckless and negligent cybersecurity policies,” including that thousands of Twitter employees have access to central controls with no oversight, that executives have been knowingly lying to investors and regulators for years,…

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Man and dog

Study: Dogs Cry for Joy as Well as Pain

Recent research has focused on how dogs respond to the world they share with us

A recent study looked at dogs reuniting with their human friends: When a person is overcome with emotion, their feelings stream down their cheeks. Even positive emotions can turn on the waterworks, as people bawl when they win awards, express love for their partners, or are reunited with a long-lost friend. But these feelings-driven tears may not be a wholly human experience. Dogs can also cry happy tears, according to a study published today (August 22) in Current Biology. Although the animals’ eyes don’t overflow, they well up when they’re reunited with their owners after spending even just hours apart, the researchers found. And they have hunch as to why: a sudden increase in oxytocin, the so-called love hormone, named…

Chatbot / Social Bot mit Quellcode im Hintergrund

Could Better Software Make Chatbot LaMDA a Person?

John Stonestreet looks at the materialist philosophy that underlies the conviction that a well-designed AI chatbot can become a person

On Friday, John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, offered a Breakpoint commentary on the recent episode at Google in which software engineer Blake Lemoine claimed that the chatbot LaMDA had become a real person. Google, of course, denied that and placed him on administrative leave. The topic is complicated by three different factors: At various stages, Lemoine probably was talking to human beings (colleagues standing in for LaMDA during its development, as is the custom. In any event, much interaction with the chatbot was edited for coherence before a draft was publicly available. Third — and more basically — a chatbot produces responses by sifting through many millions of human interactions in fractions of a second,…

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Metaverse world NFT Art Gallery Avatars and VR Glasses 3D Illustrations

Are NFTs a Bubble That Has Just Plain Popped for Good?

Despite the crypto crash, they seem to be developing a life of their own — in ticket sales, for example

Here’s the first part of Episode 3 of the discussion between computer engineering prof Robert J. Marks and computer engineering grad students Adam Goad and Austin Egbert on that wild new online world. They’ve been discussing what gives NFTs (non-fungible tokens) their value. Now, in “The NFT Anti-bubble” (August 18, 2022), they are looking at how NFTs are faring in the vast crypto crater. What still sells?: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/08/Mind-Matters-200-Adam-Goad-Austin-Egbert.mp3 This portion begins at 00:15 min. A partial transcript, notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: We have talked about non-fungible tokens kind of hitting the skids. Is this a bubble pop? Are non-fungible tokens going to disappear as kind of an interesting thing in history? Or are they going to…

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Robot dog delivering pizza. 3D illustration

New AI Institute Aims at “World’s Smartest” Intelligent Machines

Boston Dynamics’ Marc Raibert thinks they’ll make progress at machines that think like humans if they keep at it long enough

Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics recently announced the launch of the Boston Dynamics AI Institute, with more than US $400 million to start. Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert is to head it up, for the purpose of “creating future generations of advanced robots and the world’s smartest and most capable intelligent machines.” Boston Dynamics, founded in 1992, is already famous for its robot dogs: Raibert has bigger plans for smarter robots, as he detailed in a recent interview, as he told Evan Ackerman at IEEE Spectum: The new thing that’s clearly different from what Boston Dynamics is doing, is to make robots smarter, in the sense that they need to be able to look at the world around them…

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Ransomware

What To Do If Your Business Is Hit With a Ransomware Demand

A roundup of advice for small businesses and their employees and contract workers, on site or remote

Ransomware attacks have reportedly continued to grow in 2022, as criminals hone their skills in grabbing our data and wanting money to release it. Today, it’s not just government and large businesses that are at risk. Small to mid-size businesses are at greatest risk. That’s because a) they often don’t have enough security in place and b) let’s face it, today’s attacker might be content with $300,000 each from a cluster of them rather than $30 million from a giant firm. Attracts less attention, for one thing. Here’s Blackfog’s monthly list of publicly reported attacks in 2022. In the first 30 minutes… Don’t just panic and agree to pay: [Kevin] Epstein says international law enforcement and white hat hackers usually…