Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Brendan Dixon

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…

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 ›
Orange robots carrying pallets with goods in modern warehouse. Modern delivery center concept. 3D rendering image.
Orange robots carrying pallets with goods in modern warehouse. Modern delivery center concept. 3D rendering image.

They Say the New Delivery Service Is a Robot…

But of course there is a human (many, possibly) in the loop

Why do some PR agencies think it is so important that we forget the fellow human beings who help us, using robotic devices?

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Joyful preteen lady beaming while embracing human like root

Tell Kids the Robot Is “It,” Not “He”

Teaching children to understand AI and robotics is part of a good education today

We are not truly likely to be ruled by AI overlords (as opposed to powerful people using AI. But even doubtful predictions may be self-fulfilling if enough impressionable people come to believe them. Children, for example. We adults are aware of the limitations of AI. But if we talk about AI devices as if they were people, children—who often imbue even stuffed toys with complex personalities—may be easily confused. Sue Shellenbarger, Work & Family columnist at The Wall Street Journal, warns that already, “Many children think robots are smarter than humans or imbue them with magical powers.” While she admits that the “long-term consequences” are still unclear, “an expanding body of research” suggests we need to train children to draw…

concept of self-driving car

Will Industry Pressure Loosen Self-Driving Car Tests?

Right now, the regulatory agency is under pressure to accept the industry’s “softball” testing suggestions
The regulatory agency (NHTSA) needs to adapt. But trusting technical documentation alone or only testing already sold vehicles is grossly insufficient. Technical documentation is what engineers think should happen; it is not the future. And testing sold vehicles creates an incentive to skimp on tests. Read More ›
Urban traffic Pexels

Are self-driving cars really safer?

A former Uber executive says no. Before we throw away the Driver’s Handbook…
Current claims that self-driving cars are safer are hype, not measurement. Meanwhile, Congress is expected to push for legislation next month to pave the way for widespread use of self-driving vehicles without a consensus on safety standards. Read More ›
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Crosswalk with fake car and pedestrians

Does a Western Bias Affect Self-Driving Cars?

How a driver is expected to act varies by culture
Self-driving cars (autonomous vehicles) will need to adapt to different rules and we will, very likely, need to change those rules to make the vehicles work. Read More ›
Old Trumpet Brick Wall

Fan Tries Programming AI Jazz, Gets Lots and Lots of AI…

Jazz is spontaneous, but spontaneous noise is not jazz

As Gioia says, jazz depends on the “personality of the individual musician.” And the blindspot of AI creativity is: There’s no one home.

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