Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Jonathan Bartlett

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Architectural curves

Don’t Leave Home Without These Three Curves

Three mathematical curves explain a lot of what happens—and doesn’t happen—in everyday life

One of the problems with modern secondary mathematics education is that it teaches lots of details about how to solve problems but provides very little insight into how to understand problems. You may have learned to solve a quadratic equation but you may not have learned what life situations generate a quadratic equation.

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Mountain coming out of the smartphone screen, location on the top

A Quick Guide to Augmented Reality

Now that Apple is integrating Augmented Reality Into iOS 13, here are some things you can do with it

While iOS 13 has some amazing features, it also has some significant limitations. The biggest one is that the tracking between the real world and the virtual world does not extend to GPS.

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Evolution of computer Claaudio Schwartz Purzlbaum Unsplash-0-DjV_Tk1cQ

Can computers simply evolve greater intelligence?

Maybe it sounds attractive but nature doesn't seem to work quite that way
When the researchers did not develop the right environment for their digital organisms, nothing evolved. As Bill Dembski predicts, they could move design around but they could not eliminate it. Read More ›
Photo by TRΛVELER .
Hammer and nails

Is Technology a Tool or a Tyrant?

A conversation between tech entrepreneurs Jack Ma and Elon Musk outlines some choices

Last week noted U.S. technologist Elon Musk and Alibaba executive Jack Ma engaged in a friendly debate at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai. The two agreed on a lot. AI is useful, it isn’t going anywhere, and the technology will continually improve. Where they differed is what it means for us humans. For Ma, technology is a tool for our benefit. In his thinking, our technological future will bring us to a point where the average person need only work a few hours a week. Technology will automate away most of the treacherous or dull tasks and allow us to spend more time being human, engaging in the arts, and engaging with each other. Musk’s view of technology Read More ›

Autonomous cars on a road with visible connection

How self-driving cars can really work today

At Mind Matters News, we advocate self-driving technology that doesn’t confuse human and machine powers
A commitment to engineering over techno-utopia has bumped Mercedes, which has got the okay for driverless valet parking, into the lead in self-driving technology. Read More ›
Mathematics in everyday life Reuben Teo Unsplash Hba7In7vnoM

Mathematics Gives Us Life Skills and Mental Tools

Unfortunately, some professors, like the one who attacked my recent article, seem to prefer pedantry
What makes you an expert today is not your clarity of thought but rather your ability to conform your thoughts entirely to the constraints of your profession’s vocabulary. Read More ›
Girl pushing big stone hard, impossible and useless concept

Doing the Impossible: A Step-by-Step Guide

Often, in life as in calculus, when our implicit assumptions as to why something can’t be done are made explicit, they can be disproven
Calculus textbooks are the most dry and boring presentations of mathematics I have ever seen, even though calculus offers some of the most amazing insights. Unfortunately, most mathematics texts teach only the mathematics, never the insights. Read More ›
Chatbot conversation on smartphone screen app interface with artificial intelligence technology providing virtual assistant customer support and information, person hand holding mobile phone

You can build your own chatbot

New tools have made it comparatively easy

Natural Language Interfaces (the technical term for a chatbot) are becoming more and more popular. Many dial-in phone services have switched from numeric interfaces (“Dial 1 for sales, 2 for service, etc.”) to natural language interfaces (“Please say what you are calling about”). Where they have taken off though is with chatbots. Many online help systems at least start with chatbots, which collect basic information about a problem or situation and point to existing solutions before passing the contact off to a human expert. Additionally, the rise of the Generation Text, as well as the proliferation of chat-based groupware such as Slack, means that text-based natural language interfaces are one of the best ways of interacting with young people. Is Read More ›

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Even Elon Musk Can’t Get a Robotaxi These Days

His recent earnings call makes clear that few think his promised million-taxi fleet is real-world
I get the feeling that even Musk's faithful followers are beginning to doubt the hype and are instead focusing on the core business aspects, the questions Musk dismissed last year as boring. Read More ›
Self driving car on a road. Autonomous vehicle. Inside view.

Elon Musk: You Are Liable for My Malfunctioning Code!

He hopes to put the blame for self-driving mishaps in parking lots on customers

At Mind Matters News, we have criticized his approach on numerous grounds. One problem that keeps getting left out is, who assumes moral responsibility and legal liability for self-driving vehicles?

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Abstract Visualisation of data and technology in graph form. 3D Illustration
Abstract Visualization of data and technology in graph form. 3D Illustration

Machine Learning Tip: Set Boundaries for the Problems

We cannot take a giant pile of unorganized data, shove it into a machine, and expect useful results

Humans intrinsically understand causation and, therefore know which pieces of data likely have some correlation. Therefore, when we select data for computers to analyze, we are drastically reducing the size of the problem for computers.

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Review: The Why, Not the How, of the Origin of Consciousness

Ventureyra’s new book treats the origin of consciousness as a “first instantiation of a new law of nature”

Many “how” explanations can seem pretty off-topic. Imagine a situation where a book club is discussing the works of Stephen King where one commenter keeps on bringing up the fact that all of King's writing was done on a Mac.

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Successful Generalization Is a Key to Learning

In machine learning, the Solomonoff induction helps us decide how successful a generalization is

In the model of generalization set out in the paper, imperfect models can get better scores but they are discounted according to the amount of error they have.

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Brain under water 3D render, subconscious mental life and brainstorm idea.

Prominent Psychologist Offers Non-Reductive Approach to Consciousness in Journal Article

A new edition of Communications of the Blyth Institute highlights mind, consciousness, and machine learning

Rakover presents an initial sketch of a methodology that allows a better conceptualization of the method by which mental states get moved in and out of consciousness. The edition also features a review of Scott D. G. Ventureyra’s On the Origin of Consciousness.

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Old calculator
Detail of an old office machine used for calculations

Machine Learning Dates Back To at Least 300 BC

The key to machine learning is not machines but mathematics

Machine learning is not a new technique, but is simply a modern extension of a tool that we have had in our toolbox since the days of the Babylonians. It continues to serve us well to help us extrapolate our data to estimate the value of unknown results and to help find the signal in noisy data.

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Two pilots behind array of flight controls and computers

A Critic of the Evangelical Statement on AI Misunderstands the Issues

On the question of moral responsibility, Dr. Swamidass seems to misunderstand the Statement entirely

Rather than lacking insight into AI issues, this band of theologians is especially sagacious in applying theology to them.

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Need Cash Fast? Just Pretend That You Wrote Software

Tesla is not the first company to announce software it hasn’t written, but it is indeed the most brazen

Software engineers call imaginary products “vaporware.” And if the tag fits, it wouldn’t be the first time that Tesla has marketed an illusion.

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Apples and oranges in shadows

Why I Doubt That AI Can Match the Human Mind

Computers are exclusively theorem generators, while humans appear to be axiom generators

My primary reason for doubting that AI can match human intelligence is that the difference between mind and machine is a difference of kind, not of quantity. Understanding the distinction will help us exploit the abilities of each to their maximum potential.

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