Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Denyse O'Leary

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3D illustration of Interconnected neurons with electrical pulses.

Science Isn’t Even Possible Apart From Non-Material Consciousness

Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder tries hard to argue against that conclusion but things do not go well…

A couple of days ago, we were looking at the way theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder grapples with the way quantum mechanics has undermined materialism. Whether and how we choose to measure something has a big impact, which makers consciousness very difficult to just explain away. Here is her most helpful video on the topic (all the more helpful, one might say, because she is so clearly unhappy with the outcome!): “Does Consciousness Influence Quantum Effects?” (November 19, 2022) Nobelist Eugene Wigner (1902–1995) was one of the physicists who explored the problem. Hossenfelder points to his famous “Wigner’s friend experiment.” (3:01). Here is an illustration from a different source: Essentially, as Wigner pointed out in 1961, a basic building block of Read More ›

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Quantum Physics Axed Materialism. Many Hope the World Won’t Know

Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder struggles to explain how quantum mechanics is consistent with materialism

Quantum mechanics, which developed in the early twentieth century, has been a serious blow to materialism. There is no way to make sense of it if immaterial entities like information, observation, or the mind are not real. Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder struggles against the effects of this fact. In a recent video, she asks, “Does Consciousness Influence Quantum Effects?” (November 19, 2022) She asks, why did some physicists like von Neumann and Wigner think that consciousness is necessary to make sense of quantum mechanics, and can consciousness influence the outcome of a quantum experiment? (0:33) Well, they had good reason. Any effort to exclude consciousness from reality fails. Hossenfelder, a hostile witness, kindly offers an example from the work of Read More ›

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Why Do Twitter Jobs Matter More Than Data Privacy?

The Musk ‘n Twitter show won’t leave town any time soon and it obscures a much bigger, deeper issue

Elon Musk sure knows how to create a drama. First, a brief update because you probably had better things to do this weekend: Doom I! “1,200 Twitter Employees Resign, Company Closes All Offices” (Rolling Stone, November 18, 2022) Get this: “Twitter offices have been closed down and employees are resigning in droves, leading to growing fears that the service could shut down at any time.” (ScreenRant, November 18, 2022) “While it’s unlikely that Twitter will shut down entirely, departing employees are warning of service outages, glitches and safety risks. (NPR November 18, 2022) Worth noting: Musk has reinstated satire site Babylon Bee and Project Veritas, and, after conducting a poll, has also reinstated former U.S. president Donald Trump (who currently Read More ›

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Friends group having addicted fun using mobile smart phone - Close up of people hands sharing content on social media network with smartphone - Technology concept with millenials online with cellphone

Musk and Twitter: Why, Amid Pink Slips, the Sudden Virtue Parade?

Musk may or may not be the answer but he is sure not the problem

If Elon Musk has not invested his fortune in electric cars, he would be wise to consider soap operas… On the other hand, maybe he can continue to do the soap operas for free? Consider: After he bought Twitter, who can beat these headlines from the — suddenly — dreadfully earnest tech media? “After Twitter Staff Cuts, Survivors Face ‘Radio Silence’ ” Or “Elon’s paranoid purge.” Or a sudden love for China-owned Tik Tok. And get this: One tech writer primly informs: “[TikTok CEO Shou Zi] Chew’s comments, perhaps unintentionally, cut to one of the biggest question marks still looming over Musk’s embryonic tenure as Twitter’s owner: just how committed is he to keeping Twitter safe?” Twitter? Safe? Is TikTok Read More ›

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3d illustration of black retro alarm clock with arrow and golden megaphone on yellow color background

What Happens When Science Mags Go Woke?

When fashion mags go woke, no one cares. Some girls want to wear rags on their heads, well… But science mags?

Let’s look at some of the things that are happening: Darwinian evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne puts the matter concisely when he says, The old saying goes that “all science is political”, a saying that is true only if you stretch the meaning of either “science” or “political”. I’m baffled, for instance, to understand how my work on the genetics of hybrid sterility in Drosophila is political. But don’t worry: the ideologues will find a way to make it so. “You’re doing your work in the milieu of a culture,” they’ll babble, “and decisions about what to fund and publish are explicitly political.” Blah blah blah. Jerry Coyne, “Scientific American goes defensive; tries to pretend that every social justice screed is Read More ›

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blue bird on brown tree branch

Musk’s Day at Twitter Dawned: And So What Really Happened?

For one thing, many layoffs — but layoffs are currently widespread in Big Tech

Important people seem to be taking Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover very seriously indeed. Were those of us who have disregarded Twitter in the past wrong? Blind sided? Here’s U.S. President Joe Biden: “Elon Musk goes out and buys an outfit that spews lies all across the world, There’s no editors anymore in America.” Maybe, but no one is forced to join Twitter or even listen… Many traditional tech watchers are sounding an alarm over Musk’s post-takeover layoffs. But before we get into that, let’s note that other Big Techs are also currently laying off personnel in considerable numbers: November 4 has been called the worst day for layoffs in 2022 (Black Thursday) at Fortune: News of job cuts came down Read More ›

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A  jay in its beak holds an acorn. A colorful Eurasian jay sits on a thick oak branch. Close-up. Autumn. Natural blurred background.  Wild nature.

Researchers: More Intelligent Jays Show More Self-Control

The researchers say that the same relationship holds true for cuttlefish, chimpanzees, and humans

A recent study finds that Eurasian jays can pass a version of the “Marshmallow test” and that the smarter jays had the greatest self-control. The original Marshmallow test tested children to see if they could resist eating one marshmallow if they were offered two later. So enterprising researchers decided to try it on smart birds: To test the self-control of ten Eurasian jays, Garrulus glandarius, researchers designed an experiment inspired by the 1972 Stanford Marshmallow test — in which children were offered a choice between one marshmallow immediately, or two if they waited for a period of time. Instead of marshmallows, the jays were presented with mealworms, bread and cheese. Mealworms are a common favourite; bread and cheese come second Read More ›

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Fearful young woman with aluminum hat browsing social media. Conspiracy theory about 5g network destroying brain. High quality photo

How Fact-Checking Can Hide Needed Information From the Public

What role did fact-checking play in the suppression of inconvenient but essential facts about the origin of COVID-19?

Earlier this week, we looked at the recent news that Facebook has a special portal for government to look in and report “disinformation,” — as if government, in a highly charged political atmosphere, were some kind of neutral third party. The assignment of some sort of neutrality to power sources or experts who may not be neutral or have any reason to be is one of the characteristics of fact-checking, as it has developed over the last decade in mainstream and social media. Why was the Wuhan lab leak theory supposed to be a conspiracy? In that context, let’s look at the claim that COVID-19 originated in an accident at a high-level virus lab in the upcountry Chinese city of Read More ›

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A businessman appoints a leader to the head of the team. Creation of an effective teams of specialists for the implementation of a new project. HR recruiting. Management appointment. nepotism

Musk’s Twitter Takeover Sparks Crazy Talk From Mainstream Media

Has entrepreneur Musk sensed a transition in the offing? Ramped-up social media may soon replace the former mainstream media altogether

Now that Elon Musk has taken over Twitter, he isn’t short of verbal assailants, concern trolls, and volunteer freelance advisors. Brendan O’Neill offers an interesting collection at Spiked Online, including: From EuroNews Next, “Will Elon Musk’s Twitter become a beacon of free speech or a soap box for hate speech?” A Washington Post columnist: “I am frightened by the impact on society and politics if Elon Musk acquires Twitter” and, inimitably, from back in April: Today on Twitter feels like the last evening in a Berlin nightclub at the twilight of Weimar Germany. — Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis) April 14, 2022 Wow. O’Neill comments: The most striking thing about Musk and Twitter is the demented reaction to it. Musk himself is Read More ›

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réseaux sociaux

With Elon Musk as “Chief Twit,” a flurry of changes is expected

Musk hopes for a “common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence”

Well, Musk, carrying a kitchen sink, has assumed control of Twitter (it became official Thursday night): Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in! pic.twitter.com/D68z4K2wq7 — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 26, 2022 According to some, the world is tumbling over a cliff… Paul du Quenoy, president of the Palm Beach Freedom Institute was in a position to be at Twitter HQ at the time: Sullen employees entering the building during our visit had nothing to share. None made eye contact as they plodded by. Those who presented as female performed determined “take back the night” walks, delicately balancing cold avoidance with an unconvincing pretense of fearlessness. Musk seems to be following a methodical course as he reshapes social media, but Read More ›

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Portrait of happy black woman working in bookstore and looking at camera.

Publishing: The Cancel Mob Targets Amy Coney Barrett’s New Book

Does the future of publishing — as an intellectual enterprise — now belong to smaller, less well-known publishers?

Last year, Mind Matters News covered the new phenomenon of publishing house staff going to war against the publisher’s own books. It’s a far cry from the days when publishers might have to defend their books in a courtroom. Last year the target was, among other authors, best-selling psychologist Jordan Peterson. We were informed by Maclean’s Magazine that “Employees at Penguin Random House Canada speak out on how they’re rethinking their workplaces and why publishing, writ large, should weigh its moral responsibilities” in connection with Peterson’s latest, Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life (Penguin 2021). The book did get published, despite them, to five star reviews. But Cancel Culture staff continue to lead the charge for “depublishing” and have Read More ›

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stately Bengal Male Cat with beautiful spots Standing and Looking up on Isolated Black Background, Front view, Gorgerous breed

Researchers: Cats Do Recognize and Respond To Our Voices

If you are a cat’s human friend, he cares when you talk to him. Whether he will, or even can, do what you want is a separate question

Do cats care whether we talk to them or not? In a recent study, animal cognition experts found that cats may change their behavior when their “humans” are talking in a tone directed to them. But they don’t react the same way to a stranger who is talking that way or when the voice is directed elsewhere. Charlotte de Mouzon and colleagues from Université Paris Nanterre (Nanterre, France) investigated the way 16 cats reacted to “pre-recorded voices from both their owner and that of a stranger when saying phrases in cat-directed and human adult-directed tones.” With adult-directed tones, no “endearing” kitty talk is used. It might not be clear who the intended recipient of the message is, apart from what Read More ›

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Excalibur in graduation hat on stone at sunset day. Congratulate the graduates or education congratulation or academic freedom concept. 3D illustration

Stanford’s Academic Freedom Conference Slammed by Academics

Opponents are angered by the fact that, although the conference will be live-streamed, it is by invitation only and no media are allowed

Stanford Business School’s academic freedom conference, starting next week and headlined by tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel, is coming under fire. The organizers argue, Faculty organizers of the conference, from Stanford and several other institutions, promote it as follows: “Academic freedom, open inquiry, and freedom of speech are under threat as they have not been for decades. Visibly, academics are ‘canceled,’ fired, or subject to lengthy disciplinary proceedings in response to academic writing or public engagement. Less visibly, funding agencies, university bureaucracies, hiring procedures, promotion committees, professional organizations, and journals censor some kinds of research or demand adherence to political causes. Many parts of universities have become politicized or have turned into ideological monocultures, excluding people, ideas, or kinds of work Read More ›

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Placebo: The Power of the Human Mind Confounds Medical Research

Angelman syndrome, which creates a variety of developmental problems, has proven a challenge for researchers on that account

We don’t often hear about researchers crying but when researchers at Ovid Therapeutics heard the test results for their drug, gaboxadol, they couldn’t help it. They were testing the sleep-inducing drug to help with the symptoms of Angelman Syndrome, a rare neurogenetic disorder that appears in infancy. It results in a variety of developmental problems such as walking and balance disorders, inability to speak or sleep properly, gastrointestinal issues, and seizures. It affects people in different ways and to different degrees. Notably, those who cope with Angelman smile and laugh a lot and have a normal lifespan. The OVID team had high hopes for gaboxadol in August of this year because even improving the quality of sleep would help sufferers Read More ›

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press and media camera ,video photographer on duty in public new

Polls: Trust in Mainstream U.S. Media Still in Free Fall

Both the New York Times poll and Gallup poll illustrated that this week

A Canadian commentator has noticed a little-publicized fact about last week’s New York Times–Siena College poll of 792 registered voters. While the poll focused on the US mid-term elections next month, the information about how typical voters view mainstream media was most revealing. A majority not only don’t trust media but see them as a threat to democracy: A New York Times-Siena College poll published Tuesday found 59 percent of voters view the media as a “major threat to democracy,” while 25 percent said the press is a “minor threat” and only 15 percent said it poses no threat. The divide fell sharply along partisan lines, with 87 percent of voters who supported former President Trump in 2020 indicating they Read More ›

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Kid girl study science

Why It’s Difficult for Science to Answer Some Basic Questions

Are we reaching the edge of the things science can tell us?

Science answers many questions but some questions test us because they are difficult by nature. They take us to the margins. Let’s look at some — why they test us: At Big Think, theoretical astrophysicist Ethan Siegel discusses five puzzles of fundamental physics, solving any one of which “could unlock our understanding of the universe.” They are, how did the universe begin, what explains neutrino mass, why is our universe matter-dominated, what is dark matter, and what is dark energy?: About our universe as matter-dominated: More matter than antimatter permeates the Universe. However, known physics cannot explain the observed matter-antimatter asymmetry. The Big Bang produces matter, antimatter, and radiation, with slightly more matter being created at some point, leading to Read More ›

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killdeer on the ground

The Remarkable Deceitfulness of Birds — But Is It Really Deceit?

The birds themselves are not agents making a moral choice to deceive; they are carrying out a behavior pattern they have inherited

When Clinton Francis, a specialist in bird behavior, challenged student Wren Thompson to find out how many types of birds use deceit in their defences against predators of their nests, he hardly expected to find that the number she was able to discover was 285: Mapping those behaviors onto the avian phylogenetic tree revealed that the trait spans from some of the most basal bird families, including pheasants and ducks, to more recently evolved taxa such as songbirds. “It’s pretty amazing,” Francis says, adding that he was surprised how “particular clades on the avian tree of life really just light up,” including blackbirds, warblers, and sparrows. The frequent and disjointed appearance of the behavior across the tree suggests it evolved Read More ›

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Galapagos Giant Tortoise head shot smiling walking slowly on Galapagos Islands. Animals, nature and wildlife close up of tortoise in the highlands of Galapagos, Ecuador, South America.

How Can the Two-Headed Tortoise Have Different Personalities?

Many would be surprised to learn that either head had any personality, and yet…

Recently, a “two-headed” tortoise at the Geneva Museum of Natural History reached the remarkable age of 25, thanks to constant care by his handlers: Janus also has two hearts, two pairs of lungs, and two distinct personalities. Sometimes the heads wish to go in different directions. “The right head is more curious, more awake, it has a much stronger personality,” Angelica Bourgoin, who leads the turtle’s care team, said. “The left head is more passive and loves to eat.” News, “Two-headed tortoise Janus celebrates 25th birthday” at DW (September 3, 2022) So how could the tortoise heads have two different “personalities?” Janus — despite the single name given — seems to be a set of conjoined tortoise twins. (Here’s a Read More ›

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Woman reading online news on digital tablet

E-Books: What’s To Know About a New Way To Read

The electronic books might appeal to people with more interests than space to store stuff

E-books, books you can read on your computer, are becoming an ever-bigger presence in the market. MarketWatch currently wants nearly US$6000 to tell your company the market share forecast. They now make up 21% of book sales. Clearly, e-books would appeal to people who have more interests and ideas than they have space to store stuff. According to MarketWatch, the market is growing by roughly 20% a year. One source describes it like this: The global eBook market is being driven by technological advancements and the sophistication of reading devices that provide an experience similar to reading a physical book. The increased use of smartphones and the multilingual capabilities are predicted to boost global demand for eBooks. “eBook Market Overview Read More ›

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Expressive black man with microphone. Stand-up comedian on night background. Comedy show on local television. Old funny story.

Is Dilbert part of a much bigger Cancel?

Humor consists largely in identifying the difference between our aspirations and our achievements

People who love workplace comedy might be surprised to learn that Dilbert has been Canceled by many U.S. newspapers, whose editor are morally outraged Comedy is one of the great casualties of wokeness. Comedians now have to navigate an ever expanding list of taboo subjects and forbidden targets. Superstar comedians like Dave Chappelle and Ricky Gervais stand accused of ‘punching down’ for mocking woke absurdities. Beloved characters in The Simpsons and even the knowingly offensive Family Guy have been altered following the charge of ‘cultural appropriation’. Meanwhile, many TV sketch shows and satirical programmes seem to have given up on telling jokes entirely, swapping humour for sermonising and ‘clapter’ comedy. So, is comedy doomed? Or is there hope outside of Read More ›