Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Denyse O'Leary

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Man walking in tunnel

“Brilliant Vision” from a Century Ago Foretells Today’s Internet

In E. M. Forster's dystopia, people interact only through the Machine

In a wholly materialist environment, science and other disciplines have, by preference, ceased to explore anything but their own ideas.

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Social Media Censorship? Governments Weigh the Options

The United States may be going in the opposite direction from other Western countries
Social media monopolies may welcome an opportunity to avoid difficult issues by tacitly encouraging strict censorship of national platforms, along whatever lines a government prefers (the China model, if you like). Read More ›
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Glitchy screen

There Is a Glitch in the Description of DNA as “Software”

In contemporary culture, we are asked to believe - in an impressive break with observed reality - that the code wrote itself

Mainstream studies are funded in order to find out why much of the public doubts a materialist account of our origins. Despite the immense implausibility of that account, in the light of evidence, studies are not funded in order to find out why anyone does believe it. Why is that?

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Adobe Stock Censorship peace cage Adobe Stock 22001967
Adobe Stock Censorship peace cage Adobe Stock 22001967

Jordan Peterson to Found New Free Speech Platform

Thinkspot is being developed as a free speech alternative to Facebook, YouTube, and Patreon

His proposal coincides with several recent Big Social Media decisions that have raised eyebrows.

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Tree and mushrooms at night

Does Vivid Imagination Help “Explain” Consciousness?

A popular science magazine struggles to make the case

Vivid imagination doesn’t explain human consciousness (or the ability to abstract); they are one of its characteristics. The second film in the Science Uprising series mocks the prejudice that is always looking for "explanations" of consciousness that really aim at explaining it away.

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Artificial intelligence electronic circuit. Microchip with glowing brain. 3D rendered illustration.

Science Uprising: Stop Ignoring Evidence for the Existence of the Human Mind!

Materialism enables irrational ideas about ourselves to compete with rational ones on an equal basis. It won’t work
If materialism were true, we would probably already have found the consciousness gene and the wobbly free will knob in the brain. Instead, we are left with the infamously Hard Problem of Consciousness and bizarre materialist attempts to make it Go Away. Read More ›
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Blurred lights coming from above

Silicon Valley’s Strange, Apocalyptic Cult

Key Valley figures hope to beat death the transhumanist way. Oh, by the way, YOU are doomed

Everything has a history, including Silicon Valley. According to a new media theorist, an influential Valley philosophy might underlie the current attitudes, values, and beliefs: There is a Silicon Valley religion, and it’s one that doesn’t particularly care for people — at least not in our present form. Technologists may pretend to be led by a utilitarian, computational logic devoid of superstition, but make no mistake: There is a prophetic belief system embedded in the technologies and business plans coming out of Google, Uber, Facebook, and Amazon, among others. Douglas Rushkoff, “The Anti-Human Religion of Silicon Valley” at Medium In an excerpt from his new book, Team Human (2019), Rushkoff traces the history to a post-Cold War collaboration centered on Read More ›

Paper wasp Bastetemon Adobe

Wasps can reason? Science media say yes, researchers no

Media stories explicitly claim that wasps use logical reasoning, which researchers disavow

The media’s monolithic obsession with denying human uniqueness comes at a cost. The remarkable fact that two life forms have the same number of neurons but one displays significantly more complex behavior than the other is drowned out by the volume of misrepresentation. 

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Philosopher Argues, Human Reason Is Inferior to Animal Reactions

Smith offers to resolve the problem of human exceptionality by dethroning reason

He hopes that artificial intelligence and extraterrestrial life (a “statistical near-certainty”) will help us “give up the idea of rationality as nature’s last remaining exception.”

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Dramatic masks, crying and smiling

If Social Robots Could Cry, They’d Need Plenty of Tissues For This One

The spate of recent failures of social robot firms prompts a question: Are developers listening to markets?

It’s safe to say that most human beings alive today would not want a high level of emotional involvement with a robot.

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Hanging from a heart, graffiti on white wall

Will AI Teach Us to Love Big Brother?

A trend watcher fears that we’ll accept total surveillance if it controls crime and addiction

If China becomes the dominant world power through total control, David Mattin argues, it will erode the Western world’s governing myth that liberal democracy is the best system.

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chinese female worker at manufacturing
chinese worker assembling production at line conveyor in china factory

Does Automation Target Women’s Jobs?

The assumption that women need special protection from robots underestimates their creativity and versatility

A number of studies have come to the conclusion that automation will hit women harder than men. Some proposed fixes assume that women who lose repetitive jobs to robots would be happier as administrators or dependents. That’s not clear.

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Piles of books in a used book store

Can Big Data Game Bestseller Lists?

Intellectual snobbery makes some Bestseller and Top Ten lists an obvious target

The digital era is a golden age for such manipulations because digits on a screen are much easier to fake than feet on the street.

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Does Social Ability Distinguish Human Intelligence from That of Apes?

Not altogether, of course, but it plays a bigger role than we sometimes assume

In Becoming Human: A Theory of Ontogeny, professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Michael Tomasello tries to understand, from his two decades of research, what makes humans unique. He says that it is not intelligence as such but social intelligence, our “ultra social ability”: One of our most important studies was a huge study we did with over 100 human children and over 100 chimpanzees. We gave them a big battery of tests – a big IQ test if you will. It covered understanding of space, causality, quantities, as well as social learning, communication, reading the intentions of others. We found that 2-year-old children – before they can read or do anything mathematical – look just like the apes on physical Read More ›

Petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock, Utah, USA.
Ancient symbols texture, Petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock, Utah, USA.

The Origin of Language Remains Obscure

One problem is that information is not measured in science in a way that relates to matter and energy.

Human language is much more than a system of signals. And two recent articles in Inference Review provide insight into some of its ongoing puzzles in the huge unmapped territory of the interaction between the mind and the brain.

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A cat looking up to the left

Study: Cats Do Recognize Their Names

They recognize them as signals but not as abstractions

It’s a sobering fact that the war on human exceptionalism makes nonsense of our ability to understand animals. If we start with the fact that a cat cannot understand abstractions like “my name” because he is not a reasoning creature, we can intuit that most cats can learn human sounds that make a difference to them anyway.

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Asian smart doctor holding smartphone computer with hand. Surgeon has stethoscopes. concept of medical live in social online.
Asian smart doctor holding smartphone computer with hand. Surgeon has stethoscopes. concept of medical live in social online.

Tech Fail: Man Told He’s Dying via Video Link

The family, who thought that the robotic video cart was just “making a routine visit,” was outraged

The response statement from Kaiser Permanente, acknowledging failure, recognizes the problem, but only in part

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Newspaper clippings used in umbrella design

Who’s Afraid of AI that Can Write the News?

AI now automates formula news in business and sports. How far can it go?

Software programs will not have more or better ideas than the people who designed them. As the audience for news, we must decide whether that level of information is all we need to know.

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Colorful bluestreak cleaner wrasse on black background.
A bluestreak cleaner wrasse, Labroides dimidiatus, on a black background. This small colorful fish can be found on coral reefs Africa, Red Sea and Polynesia

Did a fish just show self-awareness?

What if the whole question is founded on a mistake about the nature of the mirror test?

Overall, it’s a curious outcome for the mirror test. Those who felt reassured by close kinship with chimpanzees reacted quite differently when offered close kinship with fish.

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