Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Jonathan Bartlett

Minnesota State Fair

It’s 2019: Begin the AI Hype Cycle Again!

Media seemingly can’t help portraying today’s high-tech world as a remake of I, Robot (2004), starring you and me.
I have a problem with the possible outcomes when people who don’t know the difference between technology fact and fiction make important decisions based on information from journalists who write as if every computer is a potential personality like HAL from Space Odyssey 2001. Read More ›
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How Can Information Theory Help the Economy Grow?

New information is the true source of new wealth; everyone wins when we learn how to produce it more efficiently
What gives humans the ability to increase in prosperity, according to Eric Holloway, is our ability to “read” from Plato’s Library of new ideas, thus providing an ever-growing supply of side information that powers the economy. Read More ›
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Google Search: Its Secret of Success Revealed

The secret is not the Big Data pile. No, Google found a way to harness YOUR wants and needs

Google is one of the most widely misunderstood success stories of our time. Many of us equate Google with “Big Data,” that is, amassing huge quantities of data and then finding useful statistical patterns. But is that how it succeeded? In Life after Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy, George Gilder criticizes Google primarily on two fronts: First, it is a “walled garden,” a great platform, but inherently isolated and closed. That is a point worth exploring, but not the focus here. The second point, the one I want to touch on, is that Big Data’s day has come and gone. Because Google is a Big Data company, its brightest days are behind it. Read More ›

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Be Choosy About What You Automate!

Having automated many processes, I can assure you that that is the First Rule of Automation
The worst trap that people who are pursuing automation fall into is the desire to automate everything. That’s usually a road to disaster. Automation is supposed to save time and money, but it can wind up costing you both if you don't carefully consider what you automate. Read More ›
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AI and the Future of Murder

If I kill you but upload your mind into an android, did I murder you or just modify you?
The sci-fi TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013– ) tackled this question in an episode titled “Self Control”.  Scientist Holden Radcliffe has an android assistant appropriately named Aida (Artificial Intelligence Digital Assistant). Together, they build a virtual world that people could be plugged into and uploaded into, called The Framework. Read More ›
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Who needs wisdom? We’ve got algorithms!

On a decision about a TV series, the Algorithm offered a narrow view (ratings) while Hollywood offered a “big picture” view. Who was right?
While we are seeing some pushback against the movement to “algorithmicize” everything, few lay out explicitly the limitations as well as the benefits of the algorithms increasingly used to make decisions. Read More ›
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Did AI show that we are “a peaceful species” triggered by religion?

No, but this episode shows how science media sometimes help mislead the public
Unfortunately, most of the public knows about science only through science media professionals. And it is apparent that science media professionals often know little to nothing of what they are talking about. Read More ›
Car windshield view of Zabriskie Point, Death Valley, California, USA

Who assumes moral responsibility for self-driving cars?

Can we discuss this before something happens and everyone is outsourcing the blame?
Level 4 self-driving vehicles will bring with them a giant shift in the moral equation of driving. Unfortunately, in a culture that seems to think that the future will take care of itself, little thoughtful public discussion is taking place. My hope is to start a discussion of how coming technological changes will affect the future moral landscape. Read More ›
Am Abgrund

Self-driving vehicles are just around the corner

On the other side of a vast chasm…
Many cheerleaders have wrongly assumed that the progress from one level of automation to another should be a direct, linear process but it clearly isn’t. Rather, the transition from Level 4 to Level 5 automation is multiple orders of magnitude more difficult than all the other levels combined. Its completion should not be taken as a foregone conclusion. Read More ›
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AI computer chips made simple

The artificial intelligence chips that run your computer are not especially difficult to understand
Increasingly, companies are integrating“AI chips” into their hardware products. What are these things, what do they do that is so special, and how are they being used? Read More ›
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Who built AI? You did, mostly

Along with millions of others, you are providing free training data
For AI to work you need data. The most innovative players in the AI space have learned how to get users to willingly and gladly provide them with data for free. Read More ›
Personal Bitcoin Wallet with euro coins

How Bitcoin Works: The social value of trust

The idea of employing such a game to guarantee validity in a trustless environment is nothing short of groundbreaking. It is an amazing accomplishment, and I am impressed by it more each time I think about it. However, it does have some drawbacks, which, I think, will ultimately lead to its demise. Read More ›
Building a better future

“Artificial” Artificial Intelligence

What happens when AI needs a human I?
Artificial intelligence often fails at crucial points. It must then be supplemented by human intelligence. Many software systems that look to their users like pure advanced artificial intelligence hide a lot of human effort behind a technological mask. Read More ›
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Who creates information in a market?

Do exchange-traded funds (ETFs)' algorithms make personally gathering information obsolete?
Algorithmic strategies can only be as good as the information that goes into them.  Ignoring how the information is created causes us to misunderstand the dynamics of value creation.  Algorithms can leverage information, they can’t create it. Read More ›
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Is Bitcoin Safe?

Why the human side of security is critical
Bitcoin solves a lot of tough problems in very ingenious ways. Unfortunately, however, those benefits don’t tend to translate well for end users, who are not nearly as ingenious as the people developing the system. Read More ›