Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Robert J. Marks

Thief Stealing Folder From Shelf

The President Pardons the Founder of a Church That Worships AI

On his last day in office, departing President Trump pardoned Anthony Levandowski

Anthony Levandowski has an interesting history He transitioned from Silicon Valley wunderkind to inept theologian to convicted felon. Now he is free, due to a pardon given by Donald Trump in Trump’s last day in office. If you are an orthodox materialist, you believe our brains are computers made of meat. Artificial intelligence, brains made out of silicon, will therefore match and eventually exceed human capabilities and become godlike. So it might make sense to form a church that worships this future AI god. That’s what Anthony Levandowski did in 2019. His church was christened Way of the Future. Levandowski reasoned “What is going to be created [by AI] will effectively be a god … if there is something a…

colorful numbers background

Most Real Numbers Are Not Real, or Not in the Way You Think

Typical real numbers contain an encoding of all of the books in the US Library of Congress

Pick a random real number between zero and one. The number you choose, with probability one, will contain an encoding of all of the books in the US Library of Congress. This sounds absurd, but real numbers require infinite precision and every time you deal with the infinite, things get absurd. Infinities, including the infinite number of digits to express almost every real number, don’t exist. Curiously then, real numbers are not real. How do we choose a random number between zero and one? The easiest way to explain is using binary decimals. The binary number 0.1000… with zeros forever denotes the number ½ or, in base 10 notation, 0.5. The binary decimal 0.01000… with zeros forever is the number…

Desert locust Schistocerca gregaria is a species of locust, a periodically swarming, short-horned grasshopper in the family Acrididae

AI Tool Now Predicts Attacks of Locust Swarms for African Farmers

Under the right circumstances, data from the past can be used to predict data in the future

A new free AI tool now forewarns African farmers about impending locust attacks: “Farmers and pastoralists receive free SMS alerts 2-3 months in advance of when locusts are highly likely to attack farms and livestock forage in their areas, allowing for early intervention.” The Kuzi early warning tool is one of a number of new tools that can predict reasonably expected futures. This sort of forecasting is possible if there is large body of oracle ergodic data to train machine intelligence. “Oracle ergodic” simply means that data from the past can be used to predict data in the future. That’s not self-evident. Flipping a coin, for example, is not oracle ergodic in the sense that a history of past flips…

Dictionary showing the word definition

Jill Biden: Who Should, and Shouldn’t, Be Called “Doctor”?

The controversy around Jill Biden’s title, “Dr.,” could use some clarification from the dictionary

There is a controversy about whether Joe Biden’s wife should be referred to as “Doctor” Jill Biden. Isn’t “Doctor” a title for physicians only?The question is resolved easily by consulting a dictionary. Two of the definitions in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary are: 1.a person skilled or specializing in healing arts especially : one (such as a physician, dentist, or veterinarian) who holds an advanced degree and is licensed to practice 2.a person who has earned one of the highest academic degrees (such as a PhD) conferred by a university Jill Biden has a doctorate (an EdD) from the University of Delaware. Independent of one’s politics (I’m not a Biden fan), Jill Biden can be accurately referred to as Dr. Jill Biden.…

nautilus shell

We’re the Walter Bradley Center. But Who Is Walter Bradley?

A new biography, For a Greater Purpose, discusses Bradley’s life and legacy

Mind Matters News is published by the Walter Bradley Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence. And a natural question is, who is this guy, Walter Bradley? Find out in a new biography authored by design theorist William Dembski and myself, For a Greater Purpose. The Foreword is written by the extraordinary philosopher J. P. Moreland. From the book, here’s what others are saying about Walter Bradley: ● “Walter Bradley is one of the most extraordinary men I have ever known. I am in awe of him.” —William Lane Craig, PhD, DTh, ReasonableFaith.org ● “One of the great blessings God has granted me in my life is the opportunity to have co-ministered with [Walter Bradley] among faculty and students on university…

Black diagonal chain, a blockchain concept, double

Can Blockchain Help Ensure Fraud Free Voting?

Could blockchain have prevented the current controversy around voter fraud in the recent U.S. election?

In Wednesday’s meeting between Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Republican senators from the Pennsylvania legislature about potential voter fraud in the state, one state senator suggested blockchain as a potential cure for the type of voter fraud being alleged. A company called VOATZ has the technology to do this and was mentioned by name. Blockchain is the secret sauce that keeps bitcoin working. Each new bitcoin transaction is encrypted as a new link in the chain, which is distributed to numerous sites. If anyone tries to change a link in the blockchain, everyone who stores the bitcoin blockchain knows it, so the fraud is detected and removed. The beauty of blockchain is that trust is assured among people who…

Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh on outline map

The First War Using Modern AI-Based Weapons Is Here

Most introductions of new technology in warfare will ultimately be canceled by counter-technology. But in the meantime…

AI weapons are being used in the border war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. And the results are not pretty: Israel may halt commercial weapon sales to Azerbaijan, Armenian Ambassador to Israel Armen Smbatyan told The Jerusalem Post, as fighting intensified for the ninth day between the two countries… Last week, Armenia recalled Smbatyan for consultations to protest the sale of Israeli made weapons, including drones, to Azerbaijan, which have been used against its forces. Tovah Lazaroff, “Israel may halt its weapons sale to Azerbaijan, Armenian ambassador says” at The Jerusalem Post (October 6, 2020) The most chilling—readily achievable—AI weaponry is a swarm of armed drones. Drones are inexpensive and easily deployed, and if only a few drones make it through…

Stethoscope on an old book of medicine, conceptual image

Should We Really “Listen to Science”? What Should We Listen For?

Politicians who insist that their beliefs represent science might be surprised by the checkered history of that view

This political season, politicians are telling us to “listen to science.” But buyer beware. The politicization of science is a long and sad history of so-called “scientific truths” that were not only mistaken but resulted in tragedy. Those who know a bit of this history should be wary of politicians’ table-pounding claims on topics ranging from climate change to COVID. In a 2003 lecture at Caltech, Michael Crichton, MD (pictured in 2002, courtesy Jon Chase CC BY-SA 3.0), author of great science fiction including Jurassic Park, noted, “science has in some instances been seduced by the more ancient lures of politics and publicity.” For example, racism was “settled science” in the early 20th century. So was eugenics, the so-called science…

man sitting and feeding birds

Pigeons Can Solve the Monty Hall Problem. But Can You?

The dilemma pits human folk intuition against actual probability theory, with surprising results

Animals often outperform humans. My son’s dog is more friendly than I could ever be. Cheetahs run faster, baby horses walk earlier, and elephants can lift more. Birds fly and humans can’t. Is there anything else birds can do better than humans? Yes. Apparently, pigeons learn to solve the Monty Hall problem more quickly. Let’s Make a Deal was a television game show first hosted by Monty Hall (1921–2017) in 1963. There have been various remakes since then. The basic idea is that there are three doors and a contestant’s job is to barter with Monty for the most valuable prize behind the doors. The Monty Hall problem, loosely based on the quiz show, was popularized by Marilyn vos Savant…

Curious boy looking out the window with binocular

Has Microsoft Ever Really Innovated?

That’s a question worth asking, with a history of litigation winning out over innovation

An interesting question in a 2010 discussion thread at Quora is “Why has Microsoft seemingly stopped innovating?” A deeper question is “Has Microsoft ever innovated?” Microsoft’s Bill Gates should be celebrated as a gifted and highly competitive entrepreneur and businessman. But his background as a computer scientist and student of algorithmic information theory is questionable. For this reason, Bill Gates’ assessment of the future of AI should be questioned. Undergraduate Gates dropped out of Harvard University to pursue the founding of Microsoft. He was a knowledgeable programmer with early computer hardware but his more significant talents as an entrepreneur did not require deep studies in computer science. Much of his success came from his business instincts and his team of…

Ethics Integrity Fairness Ideals Behavior Values Concept

AI: Design Ethics vs. End User Ethics — the Difference Is Important

The major ethical challenge in AI design is unintended consequences. It’s up to end users to debate which consequences SHOULD be intended. Read More ›
Dozens of Drones Swarm in the Cloudy Sky.

Meet the U.S. Army’s New Drone Swarms

As with insects, only a few drones need survive to accomplish their task

The US Army is developing a “swarm” of autonomous AI drones to protect combat helicopters. The swarm is modeled after social swarming insects like bees and ants who protect their queen. A drone nest protects the queen helicopter at all costs. The protective swarm’s tasks will range from sophisticated electronic warfare to acting as false targets (decoys) for incoming missiles. They will carry out theses tasks autonomously: Goals and tasks must be assigned by a person, but the way of their implementation, reaching the target or navigation and flight control is to be “in the hands of” advanced software and artificial intelligence. TOC, “The US Army is developing a ‘pocket’ swarm of combat drones” at BulgarianMilitary.com Here’s what a small…

Online exam

What’s To Be Done About Cheating with Chegg in the COVID era?

College-level solutions to specific problems can be texted, for a fee, to students writing exams

Academic dishonesty is a fancy term for cheating. With profit-motivated websites like Chegg.com, cheating is now easier than ever. When taking an exam, take a photo of a problem that stumps you and send it to Chegg. In literally minutes, you’ll be sent the answer over your cell phone. How do they do it? Often they employ smart nerds from poor countries who, by local standards, are paid big bucks for their efforts.Chegg, which charges $14.95 per month for its service, does not see itself as a site for cheaters but as a resource to help with homework. It advertises: With over 21 million homework solutions, you can also search our library to find similar homework problems & solutions. Browsing…

UCAV(Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle) military drone

After Thursday’s Dogfight, It’s Clear: DARPA Gets AI Right

In the dogfight Thursday between AI and a pilot, AI won. But what does that mean?

AI prevailed against a human in DARPA’s recent AlphaDogfight trials. Given that DeepMind’s AI achieved the level of grandmaster in the StarCraft II video game, AI beating a human in a simulated closed world contest is not impressive. What is impressive is AlphaDogfight’s role in DARPA’s overall plan for the development of AI in the military. DARPA, the United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has been called the US military’s “Department of Mad Scientists.” Its mission is to prevent strategic military surprise by supplying fertile ground where new and revolutionary ideas can sprout and grow. DARPA founded the internet and gave us the GPS (Global Positioning Satellite system) that guides our Google map directions. Less well known is DARPA’s…

F-16 Fighter Jet

DARPA Has Scheduled AI vs. AI Aerial Dogfights for Next Week

A round robin tournament will select the AI that faces off against a human pilot Thursday

Forbes reports a simulated aerial dogfight will be held next week and we can watch it live: “The action will kick off Tuesday with AI vs. AI dogfights, featuring eight teams that developed algorithms to control a simulated F-16, leading to a round robin tournament that will select one to face off against a human pilot Thursday between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. EDT. You can register to watch the action online. DARPA adds that a “multi-view format will afford viewers comprehensive perspectives of the dogfights in real-time and feature experts and guests from the Control Zone, akin to a TV sports commentary desk. “With remarks from officials including USAF Colonel Daniel “Animal” Javorsek, head of the ACE program, recaps of…

Atomic Bomb Dome Panorama in Hiroshima
The Atomic Bomb Dome Panorama in Hiroshima and the surounding garden in autumn at sunset on the side of Motoyasu River in Japan, with the Peace Memorial Park

Stark Lessons from the 75th Anniversary of the Atomic Bomb

Nuclear weapons have not been used to destroy a city since Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Seventy-five years ago today an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Einstein’s equation E=mc2 showed that 700 milligrams of mass (m), less than a third of the weight of a US dime, could be converted to enough energy (E) to destroy a Japanese city. The atomic bomb ended WWII. Advanced technology such as the atomic bomb not only wins wars but gives pause to otherwise aggressive adversaries. For this reason, I argue in my book, The Case for Killer Robots,that the United States must continue to develop cutting edge lethal AI for military use. As described in John Hersey’s essay “Hiroshima” in the New Yorker (1946), the effects of the atomic bomb were horrifying for the civilian population. Human beings…

Composite image of digital illustration of pixelated 3d woman

At the Movies: Can AI Restore Blurred Images?

Working with pixels, we can do remarkable things—as long as we are not asking for magic

It’s an exciting scene in crime investigation movies. A critical image, like the one on the left below, is blurred by pixelization. The detective commands the technician, “Sharpen it!” and the technician pushes a key on a computer keyboard. The key activates an algorithm and, magically, the deblurred image on the right appears. That can’t be done in real life. An image cannot be sharpened using only the information in the image itself. This is proven by a mathy theorem called the data processing inequality. 1 The mutual information between an image and a corrupted blurred image cannot be increased by further processing. Period. That’s why the title of a recent news article from Duke University is misleading: “Artificial intelligence…

Stack of papers isolated on white background

Einstein’s Single Journal Paper Ended WWII

Does that mean that a thousand papers could multiply the effect? Think again.

It was Albert Einstein’s work on matter and energy, captured in e = mc2 that enabled the atomic bomb that ended World War II. Modern anonymous peer review today works well except that it is muddied with bias, incompetence, and ignorance. The review processes of Einstein’s day were better. A renowned expert’s approval was sufficient for a paper’s publication.1 The current system has only been in force since the end of World War II when pressure was applied to professors to write papers. The mantra “publish or perish” looks to have been coined soon after the war in 1951 by Marshall “The Medium is the Message” McLuhan.2 Earlier, professors were often discouraged from publishing. Karl Popper, one of the most…

Blue glowing multiverse in space

Is Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Right re the Multiverse?

Sheldon Cooper insists that in no universe would he dance with Penny

A collection of universes is called a multiverse. If there are enough universes in a multiverse, can almost anything happen? No. Common models of the universe aren’t big enough. The argument that anything can happen in a multiverse is nicely presented in a 2011 scene in the sitcom The Big Bang Theory (2007–2019) involving consummate nerd Sheldon Cooper and Penny, the girl next door (here). Penny: Morning, Sheldon! Come dance with me! Sheldon: No. Penny: Why not? Sheldon: While I subscribe to the Many Worlds theory, which posits the existence of an infinite number of Sheldons in an infinite number of universes, I assure you that in none of them I am dancing. Penny: Are you fun in any of…

abstract circle fractal background

Hulu’s Devs Series: Where They Get Determinism Wrong

Devs disposes of a key limitation of computers that can supposedly predict the future with psychobabble

Call me a nitpicker: As a computer engineer, I must say, computers cannot predict the future.

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