Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis


The girl hugs the basenji dog.

Animal Mind — Can You Clone Your Beloved Pet’s Personality?

People who can charge a great deal for cloning insist that the personality is not cloned… so why do it?

Michael Egnor has noted that the famous philosopher René Descartes (1596–1650) thought that animals were biological machines that did not have minds at all. Many arguments can be mustered against that view but the recent development of animal cloning may prove a new one. Barbra Streisand brought attention to the business of cloning deceased pets when she had her dog Samantha cloned in 2018 (though the process had been available for more than a decade). The cost? US$35,000 for a cat, $50,000 for a dog, and $85,000 for a horse. That’s hardly spare change yet, we are told, some less well-heeled folk will put off a new car or down payment to bring back a deceased companion: Kelly Anderson never…

Crypto Virtual Museum and Metaverse internet NFT display as a futuristic streaming media symbol as augmented reality and computer media concept.

When You Buy a Non-Fungible Token (NFT), What Do You Own?

You are buying someone’s digital idea. Just what legal rights that NFT confers is an open question. But the NBA is now selling them…

In the first episode of the discussion between computer engineering prof Robert J. Marks and computer engineering grad students Adam Goad and Austin Egbert (here and here), the discussion started with the projected metaverse and slowly turned to the wild world of cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens — like Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet. What’s worth knowing about this burgeoning digital world? Here are Bob, Adam, and Austin again in Episode 2, What are NFTs?, Part 1: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/08/Mind-Matters-199-Adam-Goad-Austin-Egbert.mp3 This portion begins at 00:10. A partial transcript, notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: We have been talking to Adam Goad and Dr. Austin Egbert both at Baylor University about Web3. Web3, which uses distributed computing, is the tool that’s…

cozy domestic christmas interior with window, bed, candles and fireplace - neural network generated art, picture produced with ai in 2022

What Can AI Text-to-Image Generators Do for Artists?

Developer David Holz discusses his Midjourney generator in terms of the communities that grow up around art generated from words or phrases

In an interview with David Holz, founder of Midjourney, Verge senior reporter James Vincent asks about the new text-to-art AI image generators that are shaking up the illustration market: Generally, the “few dozen” current versions — which rely on combining materials from across the internet — work reasonably well but here are the drawbacks Vincent notes: They’re tricky and expensive to create, requiring access to millions of images used to train the system (it looks for patterns in the pictures and copies them) and a great deal of computational grunt (for which costs vary, but a million-dollar price tag isn’t out of the question). James Vincent, “‘An engine for the imagination’: The rise of AI image generators” at The Verge…

Close up of stock market trader looking at graph

Not All False Prophets Are Promoting Religions…

False finance prophets’ credentials or charisma are much more impressive than their track records — but we need a way to tell

Recently, our authors Jeffrey Lee Funk and Gary Smith alerted MarketWatch readers to the problem of “false prophets” in the investment world: We could write a long book about false prophets on Wall Street. What is interesting is how easily people are enchanted by charismatic personalities — some who peddle advice, some who run companies. A decade ago, for example, Yahoo tried to save itself by paying almost $1 billion to five charismatic CEOs (Terry Semel, Jerry Yang, Carol Bartz, Scott Thompson, and Marissa Mayer), four of them outsiders, who were hired over a five-year period and arguably did more harm than good. Jeffrey Lee Funk and Gary N. Smith, “Sensible stock investors put their money on a company’s real…

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. Steve Meyer explains.

In this second portion of a talk at the Dallas Conference on Science and Faith (2021), philosopher Steve Meyer discusses the ways in which groundbreaking astronomer Fred Hoyle (1915–2001) dealt with the fact that the universe seems fine-tuned for life. Hoyle’s widely cited comment on the subject was “A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.” That was an unsettling idea for Hoyle, who was a well-known atheist, and he certainly sought ways around it. How did he fare? Dr. Meyer, author of The Return of the God Hypothesis (Harper One, 2021), reflects on Hoyle’s struggle.…

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

Physicist Eric J. Lerner comes to the point: To everyone who sees them, the new James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) images of the cosmos are beautifully awe-inspiring. But to most professional astronomers and cosmologists, they are also extremely surprising—not at all what was predicted by theory. In the flood of technical astronomical papers published online since July 12, the authors report again and again that the images show surprisingly many galaxies, galaxies that are surprisingly smooth, surprisingly small and surprisingly old. Lots of surprises, and not necessarily pleasant ones. One paper’s title begins with the candid exclamation: “Panic!” Why do the JWST’s images inspire panic among cosmologists? And what theory’s predictions are they contradicting? The papers don’t actually say. The…

First person perspective shot from a hiker sitting at the edge of a cliff at Angel's Landing in Zion National Park.

Multiverse of Madness Skirts the Edges of Story Collapse

Oh well, it IS a multiverse, so maybe, in this reality, all the heroes stink

Just as Wanda Maximoff is about to catch America Chavez, she is met by the Illuminati, a team of superheroes which comprises Captain Carter, Captain Marvel, Black Bolt, Reed Richards, Mordo, and Professor X. Mordo and Professor X are not present, but Wanda must still face four heroes at once. There is only phrase which can describe the ensuing scene and that is missed opportunity. To understand why, we must first look at two major factors at play. First, the actor chosen to play Reed Richards is none other than Jared Krasinski, who is famous for his roles in the TV series (2005–2013) The Office and the film A Quiet Place (2018). Now, anyone remotely familiar with comic book films…

These two are little genius . Mixed media

Why Breeding Smarter Humans Won’t Work: Basic Genetics 101

Biochemist Michael Denton explains that, in human genetics, everything is connected to everything else; geneticists call it pleiotropy

Recently, we looked at the question of whether human IQ could be artificially increased via genetic engineering. One proposal was to mass produce human embryos, implanting only the smart ones and discarding the rest. All other issues aside, it’s unclear how to determine which kids will turn out to be the smart ones. Now biochemist Michael Denton, author of a number of books including the recent Miracle of Man (2022), writes to tell us that the idea won’t work due to fundamental genetics. Noting that theoretical physicist Stephen Hsu, who advanced the idea of discarding embryos above, is not a medical geneticist, he told Mind Matters News, Its true there are many genes involved in brain development but most genes…

Information field around the Earth

Musk’s Starlink Tied to Traffic Chaos in Orbit and on Earth

If nothing else, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has brought public attention to the future of space, who it belongs to, and how it is paid for

This week has seen quite a struggle for Elon Musk’s SpaceX and its satellite-based internet service Starlink. SpaceX had recently pocketed some interesting wins for Starlink. Its offer to keep Ukrainians online in the midst of the recent crisis earned Starlink favor in the eyes of both the military and Eastern European nations. It has also started launching operations in Latin America. Just days ago SpaceX performed its 35th launch of the year, adding 52 more Starlink satellites. However, Starlink has also faced a number recent headwinds which could spell trouble for the service. While its public beta test performed well for many users, as the service has expanded, the capabilities of the network appear to be stretched. Despite promises…

Spanish jumping spider Saitis barbipes with fruit fly

Yes, Spiders Dream — But That Doesn’t Make Them Leggy People

We don’t know where on the tree of life “mind,” in the most basic sense, begins. It might include bacteria but not viruses

A recent research article from Germany, which has made quite a splash in the popular press, raises some very interesting questions about animal minds. Animal behaviorist Daniela C. Rößler and co-authors studied 34 young spiders while they slept and found that their eye movements seemed analogous to the eye movements of human beings and other higher animals that occur during REM sleep and are associated with dreaming. They pointed out that this seems to suggest that arachnids may have mental states and dreams that are more akin to those of human beings then previously thought. The article, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is open access. The research is fascinating in its own right but I…

Peek-a-boo bee close up

What Does It Mean To Say Bees “Feel and Think”?

The New Scientist reviewer is unsure that we are ready for such a radical message. Unsure? At one time, it would have been branded “NOT science!”

Behavioral ecologist Lars Chittka’s book, The Mind of a Bee (Princeton University Press, 2022), is a fascinating detailed description of bee behavior that will cure us of believing that the insect world is devoid of intelligence or sensation. Indeed, in a 2018 essay with Catherine Wilson, Chittka offers many research findings in a shorter format. It’s only in Chapter 11, toward the book’s end, that he makes a controversial claim: From the very start, early in evolution, nervous systems were inseparable from movable bodies with sensors, and developed in order to integrate perception and action. The challenges of survival and self-replication (reproduction) that a moving organism faces are most efficiently met when brain and body are intimately connected, enabling the…

Social media concept. Corona virus fake news concept. Scale on red background

Why Misinformation Comes From the Top as Well as the Bottom

At Big Think, Cameron English asks us to look at the incentives for academic scientists to publish questionable research that gains widespread attention.

Cameron English, Director of Bio-Sciences at American Council on Science and Health, offers a useful take on the need felt by some in power to crack down on Misinformation: The uncomfortable truth is that academic scientists routinely publish questionable research that attracts widespread media attention, adding to the morass of “inaccurate information” circulating online. If we want to get this problem under control, we need our trusted sources to quit releasing untrustworthy information. Cameron English, “‘Trusted’ Sources Spread Anti-Science Nonsense, Too” at Big Think (August 4, 2022) But the fact is, untrustworthy information pays: It is true that researchers live and die by their grants; they either “publish or perish,” as the old saying goes. Often, that means academic scientists…

Internet law concept

US Federal court rules: Machines do not “invent” things

Evidently, Stephen Thaler’s aim was to get the patent office to recognize that an AI system can invent things all by itself

Check out this headline from lawandcrime.com: Federal Appellate Court Rules AI Systems Cannot Be “Inventors” Because They Are Not Human. Notice the angle: framing a battle between machines and homo sapiens, pitting human intelligence against artificial intelligence. The article’s first sentence spotlights the center attraction, stating: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled Friday [Aug. 5, 2022] that artificial intelligence or “AI” systems cannot patent their inventions because they are not “natural people.” Here the Law and Crime article subtly inserts two key beliefs: (1) that AI systems can in fact invent things all by themselves; and (2) that AI systems physically can “patent their inventions.” The sentence thus implies that the human-centric court unfairly blocked them.…

Analyst working with computer in Business Analytics and Data Management System to make report with KPI and metrics connected to database. Corporate strategy for finance, operations, sales, marketing..

The machine is not talking to you. You are talking to yourself.

At Futurism, Maggie Harrison discusses the reasons humans decide that AI is “alive.”

Maggie Harrison, a staff writer for Futurism, offers a no-nonsense talk to those who believe in the humanity of the chatbot LaMDA, as announced in June by Google software engineer Blake Lemoine: First, she notes, the idea isn’t even uncommon among software engineers: As Cade Metz wrote for The New York Times, many in the AI industry hold beliefs similar to Lemoine’s. One prominent inventor, Philip Bosua, told the Times he believes OpenAI’s GPT-3 (another language modeling system like Google’s LaMDA) is also sentient. Yet another said that though he think’s GPT-3 intelligence is somewhat “alien,” it “still counts.” There’s a clear, wide gap there between those who think the machine is alive, and the simple computer science backing those…

profile of call receivers
Asian young service support operator, side view. Female service support operator with headset sitting amoung colleagues.

A Novel Trick for Detecting Deepfakes: A Sideways View

The average person doesn’t have many profile pictures so a sideways view may well blur out, revealing the fakery. But that’s just a first step…

Tech writer Martin Anderson offers a simple trick to detect deepfakes in video calls: Ask the caller to turn sideways: DeepFaceLive is a live-streaming version of the popular DeepFaceLab software, and is capable of creating alternate video identities in real-time. From more or less face-on viewpoints, most of the celebrity recreations are quite effective, and some are very convincing even at fairly acute angles – until the facial angle hits a full 90°.ry good at recreating profile views. Martin Anderson, “To Uncover a Deepfake Video Call, Ask the Caller to Turn Sideways” at Metaphysic (August 8, 2022) Then, as his examples at the site show, the possibly convincing face fuzzes out. He thinks that computer security analysts have overlooked this…

vehicles on road during daytime

Overcrowded and Chaotic Lagos Is Becoming Africa’s Silicon Valley

Welcome to Yabacon Valley! Mathew Otieno is your tour guide.

This piece by Mathew Otieno originally appeared at MercatorNet (August 7, 2022) and is republished here under a Creative Commons License. Flutterwave is an online payment infrastructure provider headquartered in San Francisco. Its customers include global giants like Uber and Microsoft and tiny local start-ups. In 2021, five years after it was founded, Flutterwave became a unicorn (valued at over a billion dollars). In early 2022, a series D funding round of US$250 million brought that value to $3 billion dollars. If things go well, it plans to IPO within the next two years. Impressive, right? But the most impressive part is that Flutterwave isn’t an American company. It was founded in Lagos by three Nigerians, and its biggest markets…

Surreal 3d illustration of multiple faces in a wall. Concept of post-human and transhumanism ideas.

Epitaph for Transhumanism: But It’s Far From Dead!, Advocate Says

George Dvorsky embraced it as a religion but he sees public interest waning amid growing criticism of Big Tech’s side effects

Oxford University transhumanist Elise Bohan finds the benefits of transhumanism (leaving the human body behind for a genetically engineered and largely AI future) easy to list: Ageing cured. Death conquered. Work ended. The human brain reverse-engineered by AI. Babies born outside of the womb. Virtual children, non-human partners. The future of humanity could be virtually unrecognisable by the end of the 21st century, according to Elise Bohan – and that’s if we get the transition right. If we get it wrong, well. Celina Ribeiro, “Beyond our ‘ape-brained meat sacks’: can transhumanism save our species?” at The Guardian (June 4, 2022) Bohan, author of Future Superhuman: Our Transhuman Lives in a Make-or-Break Century (2022), is anxious to get on with new…

black metal spiral staircase in grayscale photography

How AI Neural Networks Show That the Mind Is Not the Brain

A series of simple diagrams shows that, while AI learns faster than the human brain, the human mind tackles problems that stump AI

Recently, I’ve been arguing (here and here, for example) that we can use artificial neural networks (ANNs) to prove that the mind is not the brain. To recap, here is the logic of my argument: Premise A: neural networks can learn better than the brainPremise B: the human mind can learn better than a neural networkConclusion: the human mind can learn better than the brain, therefore it is not the brain This means if we can conclusively show the human mind can learn better than a neural network, then the mind is not the brain. For Premise A, I’ve argued that the differentiable neural network is a superior learning model compared to the brain neuron’s “all or nothing principle”. The…

Sanger Sequencing. 3D illustration of a method of DNA sequencing.

If DNA Is a Language, Who Is the Speaker?

Philosopher Steve Meyer talks about the significance of Francis Crick’s sequence hypothesis that shows that DNA is literally a language of life

In a talk at the Dallas Conference on Science and Faith (2021), philosopher Steve Meyer looked at the question of whether a multiverse, as in Multiverse of Madness (2022), or God, as in many traditions is the origin of our universe. That is, is our universe designed — as considerable evidence suggests — or is ours just one of a few lucky universes whose extra-lucky conditions allow for advanced life? Dr. Meyer is the author of The Return of the God Hypothesis (Harper One, 2021) which argues that the evidence from science favors God over a multiverse. (Sample here.) In this first of four transcripts of the talk, he talks about how and why it matters to ordinary people which…

Time in space. 3d rendering illustration

Did Physicists Open a Portal to Extra Time Dimension, As Claimed?

That’s the way the story reads at Scientific American. But experimental physicist Rob Sheldon says not so fast…

At Scientific American, we were told last month: “Physicists have devised a mind-bending error-correction technique that could dramatically boost the performance of quantum computers”: “It is very exciting to see this unusual phase of matter realized in an actual experiment, especially because the mathematical description is based on a theoretical ‘extra’ time dimension,” says team member Philipp Dumitrescu, who was at the Flatiron Institute in New York City when the experiments were carried out. A paper describing the work was published in Nature on July 20. Opening a portal to an extra time dimension—even just a theoretical one—sounds thrilling, but it was not the physicists’ original plan. “We were very much motivated to see what new types of phases could…