Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Robert J. Marks

Helmeted police officers photographed from behind during a protest

Can AI Predict and Prevent Political Unrest?

The 1996 Democratic Convention tried neural networks but discovered a hidden flaw

The police union’s 1996 objection to fingering specific officers as violence risks without a detailed explanation pinpoints a weakness of neural networks even to this day. The neural network is basically a black box.

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Balancing A Male And A Female Worker In The Cloud

Why It’s So Hard To Reform Peer Review

Robert J. Marks: Reformers are battling numerical laws that govern how incentives work. Know your enemy!

Measurement creates a temptation to achieve a measurable goal by less than totally honest means. As in physics, the simple act of measuring invariably disturbs what you are trying to measure.

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Screen of boxes on copy of financial times

Random Thoughts on Recent AI Headlines: Google Gives Away “Free” Cookies…

Also, why AI can't predict the stock market or deal with windblown plastic bags

A good rule of thumb is that unexpected outcomes increase exponentially as a function of AI complexity.

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elephant mask beautiful young hipster woman in the city

AI Is No Match for Ambiguity

Many simple sentences confuse AI but not humans

Because computers lack common sense, they cannot interpret statements that assume a background of general knowledge, as the Winograd Schema challenges show.

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Bacteria

McPathogens: Are McDonalds’ Order Kiosks Clean? Another Look

Can rebuttals exposing fake news be fake news themselves? Judge for yourself
I snapped a picture of a kiosk screen shown below during a recent visit to a McDonald’s in Waco, Texas. The picture is taken at an angle where smudge leavings are most visible. Read More ›
Sunrise at the valley of orange plantation..Beginning of a new day with optimistic thought,inspiration concept..

Seven Minutes to Goosebumps: Confronting Materialism Head On

A new short film series takes on materialism in science, including that of AI’s pop prophets
At the Bradley Center, we are open to discussing and reporting any such discovery but are also open to evidence leading to alternative explanations. Read More ›
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AI as the Artful Dodger

Watch what happens when I train a neural network on portraits of 56 famous scientists, starting the process with a right eye
New AI is much more sophisticated but the old and new AI share the property that the final result is nothing more than an interpolation of the training images used to train the AI. Read More ›
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What One Thing Do AI, Evolution, and Entrepreneurship All Need?

They all need an input of creativity to make things happen.

Programs for AI and evolution share the limitation that nothing creative happens without the guidance of a programmer. And a thriving economy based on creative entrepreneurship is one of the things that cannot be automated.

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What It Really Takes to Build a High-Tech Company, Sell It, and Get Rich

Inventor and entrepreneur Hal Philipp offers a rewarding but cautionary true story

The road to the success that Hal Philipp enjoys today was laced with landmines. When money starts rolling in, entrepreneurs must expect lawsuits. But perseverance and a strong character won the day. 

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Big Data Can Lie: Simpson’s Paradox

Simpson’s Paradox illustrates the importance of human interpretation of the results of data mining

Simpson’s Paradox illustrates the need for seasoned human experts in the loop to examine and query the results from Big Data. Could AI be written to perform this operation? Those who say yes are appealing to an algorithm-of-the-gaps.

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AI and the Seductive Optics of the Frankenstein Complex

The fact that some AI makes you feel creepy is a part of its success

One of the factors contributing to fear of AI is the Frankenstein Complex.1 The term, coined by sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov2, originally described fear of the “mechanical man” in the science fiction of old. The complex is named for the young scientist, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, protagonist of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. He stitches human body parts together to create a monster. There is no AI in the story; he brings the monster to life based on an intelligence that was assumed to be resident in biology. “Frankenstein’s monster” later came to be called simply “Frankenstein.” Thomas Edison first filmed the story as a silent movie in 1910 but Boris Karloff’s depiction of the monster in Read More ›

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business, technology, mass media and people concept - close up of male hand holding transparent smartphone with internet news web page on screen

Random Thoughts on Recent AI Headlines

There is usually a story under those layers of hype but not always the one you thought

When Thomas Sowell was writing his syndicated column on economics, I always looked forward to his sporadically appearing “Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene.” Reminding readers that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I offer my own “Random Thoughts on Recent AI Headlines.”

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STEM Education 8: Help Create Creativity

Creativity diminishes with age, in part because we dig ourselves into ruts that limit our field of view.

An aging STEM nerd digs more and deeper ruts and creative thinking becomes more and more difficult. For this reason, I remain tolerant of graduate students with new and seemingly wacky ideas.

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STEM Education 7: Sell the Sizzle

The mathematics underlying our world is fascinating and full of surprises

In my experience, true STEM nerds are always pursuing some type of sizzle even in their spare time. Generally, the higher the academic degree, the greater the freedom STEM nerds have to pursue their sizzle of choice.

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Complex algebra equation

STEM Education 6: How to Guide a Nerd

Students whose high school curricula are flexible can more easily develop and follow their God-given talents

STEM nerd parents and educators need four principles to identify nerds and bring them to a healthy and fulfilling maturity. We here present the first two: identification and nurture in the fundamentals of STEM disciplines

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Autonomous AI in War: Trial by Ordeal

The more complicated a system becomes, the more difficult it is to analyze all of its actions.

There are plenty of roads on which to test and tune the self-driving cars, but there are not a lot of wars available in which to test and tune autonomous AI weapons. If we seek military superiority to deter aggression, imaginative and creative minds are needed to assess all possibilities.

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Green walk signal at crosswalk

AI Ethics and the Value of Human Life

Unanticipated consequences will always be a problem for totally autonomous AI

In the development of technology overall, there is always a tradeoff in which human life is given a price. For example, cheap cars aren’t safe and safe cars aren’t cheap.

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Mailboxes on a rural road

STEM Education 5: What Difference Do Family and Privilege Make to Success?

A strong family helps a STEM nerd succeed. However, a “strong family” is not necessarily a family that had an easy ride, as my own story shows.

The money my parents could make in the new urban environment was good, but it was a bad place to raise kids. In high school, I began to run with gangs and do many things I’m not proud of. Dad and Mom scraped together money for me to go to college instead.

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