Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Denyse O'Leary

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I, Robot, am gathering dust in the sales room …

Why do robotics experts think that customers will warm to robots because they look like people?
The underlying assumption is surely incorrect. Robots like the Roomba succeed in part because they don’t look or act like people, let alone threaten people. They just do jobs people would prefer not to do or maybe can’t. Read More ›
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Deep Learning won’t solve AI

AlphaGo pioneer: We need “another dozen or half-a-dozen breakthroughs”
Hassabis: "AlphaGo doesn't understand language but we would like them to build up to this symbolic level of reasoning — maths, language, and logic. Read More ›
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Inner peace: Is there software for that?

Tech billionaire funds neuroscience in a search for the secret of contentment
His approach to neuroscience is very different from that of the Dalai Lama, who facilitates neuroscience research to better understand contemplation as a path to inner peace. Chen’s focus is more on developing virtual reality. Read More ›
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The true cost of “free” social media

It’s free but… are we? George Gilder points a way forward.
He thinks that expected massive increases in computing power will enable blockchain technologies that allow users to safely bypass the global data monopoly that Google and similar firms represent. Read More ›
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Google branches out into politics

Unfortunately, the only political model it would likely know is: One-party state
The unchallenged manipulation of search engine results during elections is a new phenomenon made possible by the domination of the internet by a few big players. Read More ›
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Silicon Valley grew old before it grew up

By April of this year, 100 employees were complaining about the Google groupthink
Quip making the rounds: Would you trust a self-driving car from Google? Answer: Sure, if I needed a car that decided for me where I should go and then just drove me there. Read More ›
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Our anonymity may be an illusion

Because we talk about ourselves so much online, few leaked pieces may even be required to identify us. 
Dr. Dinerstein: In what is now a classic study, researchers used de-identified credit card data for 1.1 million people, in 10,000 stores over a three-month period. Using just four pieces of “outside” data they could identify 90% of the shoppers. Read More ›
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Karl Marx’s Eerie AI Prediction

He felt that capitalism would fall when machines replaced human labor
Because Marx held that the value of goods resided in the labor required to produce them, if goods were produced by automatons, without human labor, the economy would fall apart and capitalism would fail. Read More ›
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Could AI understand the universe?

World-renowned chemist thinks it might understand what we can’t, including consciousness
Atkins is arguing that the fact that we do not understand what consciousness is, far from being a barrier to creating artificial consciousness, offers the hope that, once we do create them, artificially conscious entities will understand consciousness but we won’t. The proposition sounds a bit confused, no? Read More ›
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Robogeddon!! Pause.

Wait. This just in: AI is NOT killing all our jobs
Jay Richards, author of The Human Advantage: The Future of American Work in an Age of Smart Machines,sees it as more of a retooling than a meltdown. But retooling does mean change, work, cost, and risk. Read More ›
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Giant Google’s vulnerable spot

Social media are free because we are both the content and the market
Recently, we looked at philosopher of technology George Gilder’s Life after Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy. But what form would that decline take? A look at the advertising picture offers one clue. Read More ›
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Ethics for an information society

Because machines can’t learn to solve their own ethical problems
AI (machine learning) was probably faster and cheaper but the whole point of the system was supposed to be justice which, whatever the explanation, proved too difficult to calculate… Read More ›
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AI tools for mass manipulation?

Machine learning can unleash a perfect storm of malice, experts warn
In 2017, a group of 26 AI researchers got together at Oxford and created a report which offers a number of examples of malicious technologies of the near future. Read More ›
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Do big brains matter to human intelligence?

We don’t know. Brain research readily dissolves into confusion at that point
We also know very little about the human brain. Take this controversy about why the large human brain evolved... Read More ›
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Hell is a “parasocial” place

Where your "friends" may not even exist
Consumer digital hells can be dreadful indeed but they are mostly of our own making. The companies that profit from them are not forcing us to live in them. That said, students should be taught in school that the internet’s virtual world features a great deal of fakery, including fake friends. Read More ›
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Sometimes the ‘bots turn out to be humans

That “lifelike” effect was easier to come by than some might think
Companies sometimes pretend to be using AI or machine learning when they are actually using human employees for various reasons. One reason is that they have promised potential investors more high tech than they can deliver. Sometimes, as we learned recently at The Guardian, it gets a bit sticky... Read More ›
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Will AI liberate or enslave developing countries?

Perhaps that depends on who gets there first with the technology
Karl D. Stephan: Zimbabwe, an African country well-known for its human-rights abuses, has received advanced Chinese AI technology from a startup company in exchange for letting the firm have access to the country’s facial-recognition database. So China is helping the government of Zimbabwe to keep tabs on its citizens as well. Read More ›
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Do children trust robots too much?

Maybe, but more study is needed, say researchers
Children could easily give in to peer pressure from other children to give an incorrect answer in place of a correct one. How much difference it makes that the pressure is supplied by a robot would surely depend on how the child is taught to see robots. Read More ›