Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Brendan Dixon

Photo by Michal Mrozek

So Is an AI Winter Really Coming This Time?

AI did surge past milestones during the 2010s but fell well short of the hype

Maybe both. AI will require more from us, not less, because how we choose to use these tools will make an increasingly stark difference between benefit and ruin.

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Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

Can We Outsource Hiring Decisions to AI and Go for Coffee Now?

I would have fired any of my hiring managers who demonstrated characteristic AI traits immediately. So why do we tolerate it coming from a machine?

With historically low unemployment, employers are tempted to reduce costs and speed up the process using artificial intelligence (AI) systems. These systems might help but, for best results, let’s have a look at the problems they can’t solve and some that they might create.

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Breast cancer histology: Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is seen in the lower left with invasive (infiltrating) lobular carcinoma in the upper right. Screening mammography can detect early tumors.

How AI Can Help Us Fight Cancer

Breast cancer is an excellent example of how AI can speed up early detection

AI catches things doctor miss, and doctors catch things AI misses. Using the AI to highlight what may be cancer tissue helps the radiologist focus on ambiguous situations, reducing the chance of missing early cancers.

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GPS navigator in desert

AI Should Mean Thinking Smarter, Not Less

We should be all the more engaged when we use technology

Tim Harford points to the Sanchez tragedy to raise an important question: How do we know when a given technology is really helping us? And when we are taking too great a risk or paying too high a price?

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Smart car, Autonomous self-driving mode vehicle on metro city road IoT concept.

Expert: We Won’t Have Self-Driving Cars For a Decade

Machine Learning rapidly moved self-driving cars from the lab to the roads but the underlying technology remains brittle

Myths are not inherently bad but the real world crushes them. One myth currently taking a beating is “self-driving cars are just around the corner.” Here’s why not. 

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Students studying in college library

Machines Can’t Teach Us How To Learn

A recent study used computer simulations to test the “small mistakes” rule in human learning

Machine learning is not at all like human learning. For example, machine learning frequently requires millions of examples. Humans learn from a few examples.

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Beautiful mandarin duck on the frozen lake in a park

Just a light frost—or AI winter?

It’s nice to be right once in a while—check out the evidence for yourself

About a year ago, I wrote that mounting AI hype would likely give way to yet another AI winter. Now, according to the panelists at “the world’s leading academic AI conference” the temperature is already falling.

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Smart car (HUD) and augmented reality navigation technology concept. Empty cockpit in vehicle and Self-Driving mode car graphic screen. Digital matrix blue tone.

Death Spurs Demand for More Oversight of Self-Driving Cars

The National Transportation Safety Board seeks uniform standards for the previously voluntary information provided by carmakers

Despite the hype and a few bad actors, here at the Walter Bradley Institute, we believe in AI. The deployment of any technology—dams, bridges, buildings—requires care and, at times, oversight. Not to slow down progress but to protect us from ourselves. As the great scientist Richard Feynman put it, the easiest person to fool is oneself.

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sport cyclisme velo tour de France

I Am Giving Up Cycling

It’s just not worth it if a machine can beat me

It’s not that I cannot cycle or that I don’t like to or that I’m not good at it (for a human). But just the other day, as I pedaled along, I was passed by a motorcycle. Its speed was incredible! I appeared to be pedaling in place as the machine zoomed into the distance. In that moment, it became all too clear that my days as a meaningful human were ending. The machine was my better. Okay. That is not true. I am not going to quit cycling. And, being passed by a motorcycle—a machine we built purposely to go faster than anything our two legs can achieve—is not a meaningful measure of my prowess as a cyclist. Many Read More ›

Autonomous Drive, Self-Driving Vehicle

Would Selling Self-Driving Cars Sooner Save Lives?

Not if we look more closely at the statistics

It’s enough to make you want to run out and buy a smart car today. But just a minute. There are other statistics out there. Let’s look at some of them.

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Tesla Cybertruck

What Can the Cybertruck Tell Us About Silicon Valley?

Does Elon Musk’s view of human beings help account for his new truck’s massive armor?

Pardon me but, while I know that a good truck needs to be tough, I never thought it needed to be a Mad Max-styled warrior vehicle. Apparently, Musk does. Why?

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hot pizza closeup on a table in the background of a group or company of people friends

Pizza Robots Get the Pink Slip

True, the doughbots didn’t make good pizza. But is the message about them or something else?

I have nothing against robots. (I am against bad pizza.) I do, however, get very tired of the science fiction-fantasy of humanity-squashing robots. And that’s all it is: A fantasy.

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Boeing 777

Boeing’s Sidelined Fuselage Robots: What Went Wrong?

It’s not what we learn, it’s what we forget

By all means, let’s build machines that enhance our abilities. But let’s not forget that the really amazing thing is not the tool, but the tool builder.

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Chatbot / Social Bot mit Quellcode im Hintergrund

Should AI-Written News Stories Have Bylines? Whose?

Like it or not, AI is here to stay. So, how do we make the best use of it in writing?

Automation can help some aspects of writing. But media outlets get tech “google”-eyes and too often fail to ask the hard questions about what they are automating, how, and why.

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AI face detection,Face Recognition Vendor

Big Tech Tries to Fight Racist and Sexist Data

The trouble is, no machine can be better than its underlying training data. That’s baked in

The problem with machine learning-based AI in police work is not so much its inherent bias (none of us is bias-free) but the delegation to a machine of what should be a human decision.

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nice woman type on a laptop working at home freedom and happy. thinking looking outside

Can Predictive Text Replace Writers?

A New Yorker staff writer ponders his future and the machine’s

Predictive text analyzes what was written and guesses what comes next. Whole sentences, paragraphs, and essays. Seabrook tested it on his own work…

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Shovel Annie Spratt Unsplash annie-spratt-j4fV6dKT9tw-unsplash

Do We Need To Learn from AI How To Think Better?

No, and a moment’s thought shows why not
AI can become our "collaborators" only in the sense that a shovel can collaborate with me to dig a hole: It amplifies my powers to do things which are otherwise difficult. Read More ›
Game's white and black stone on cross board.

Alpha Go as Alpha Maybe?

DeepMind's AlphaGo defeated a world-champion Go player but further gains were hard won at best
The question scientists must ask, especially about an unexpected finding, is, if no one can reproduce your results, did you discover something new or did you just get lucky? With AI that’s not easy, due to dependence on randomness. Read More ›
Stack of books with laptop

Has Aristo broken bounds for thinking computers?

The Grade 8 graduate improves on Watson but we must still think for ourselves at school. Here’s why
Aristo combines questions and answers on a multiple-choice test to decide on the best answer without understanding any of the information. Read More ›
スマートスピーカー

Alexa Really Does Not Understand Us

In a recent test, only 35 percent of the responses to simple questions were judged adequate
Actually, I am impressed that voice assistants work as well as they do, given the number of AI problems that were solved. But consider how much more complex the problems facing a self-driving car are. Read More ›