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Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategoryArtificial Intelligence

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Artificial Intelligence and Transhumanism - illustration

John Lennox: Transhumanism Is Not a New Idea

In his just-published book, 2084, Oxford mathematician John Lennox points out that, in the 20th century, both the Communists and the Nazis had attempted transhumanist projects. For example, In the former Soviet Union, attempts were made to use science to create a “New Man.” In 1924, Leon Trotsky wrote: “Man will make it his purpose to master his own feelings, to raise his instincts to the heights of consciousness, to make them transparent, to extend the wires of his will into hidden recesses, and thereby to raise himself to a new plane, to create a higher social biologic type, or, if you please, a superman.” What that program of eugenics involved is explained by historian Andrey Zubov as cited by Read More ›

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big brother watching you

2084 vs 1984: The Difference AI Could Make to Big Brother

In a recent podcast, Oxford mathematician John Lennox answered some questions raised about his new book, 2084 by Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks, including questions as to how the loss of privacy could wind up really harming us: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-089-John-Lennox.mp3 From the transcript: Robert J. Marks: It’s been said that AI is the new electricity. It’s neither good nor bad. You have addressed some of the potential negative uses of artificial intelligence or the negative impacts of artificial intelligence, but expanding on that, what are some of the big threats that you see in the use of AI technology in the near future? John Lennox: Well, the threats are best explained by comparing them with the advantages. Let’s take Read More ›

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AT&T CTO Says, Yes, You Can Live Without Your Smart Phone

At COSM 2019, Jay Richards interviewed AT&T CTO Andre Fuetsch (the guy who says your smart phone will disappear). Is that true? And how will we live? From the interview: Andre Fuetsch: We are now on the brink of being able to connect many, many more things than we’ve ever seen before. And just by the fact of being able to connect more things … look at the more traditional wireless networks that we’ve had in the preceding generations. It frankly was just about connecting phones, right? “Some were sort of dumb phones, some were more feature phones. Some are now obviously more smartphones. And these were really more of kind of a one to one relationship with people. 5G, Read More ›

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3D rendering abstract round light background

John Lennox: How AI Raises the Stakes for All of Us

This is an excerpt from John Lennox‘s 2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity (Zondervan 2020) published with permission: In April 2018 at the TED talks in Vancouver physicist and cosmologist MaxTegmark, president of the Future of Life Institute at MIT, made this rather grandiose statement: “In creating AI [artificial intelligence], we’re birthing a new form of life with unlimited potential for good or ill.” A study by Sir Nigel Shadbolt and Roger Hampson entitled The Digital Ape carries the subtitle How to Live (in Peace) with Smart Machines. They are optimistic that humans will still be in charge, provided we approach the process sensibly. But is this optimism justified? The director of Cambridge University’s Centre for the Study Read More ›

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Phone-Screen-for-Hel-modified

China’s Health Code App: One More Way to Track Citizens

For the Chinese Communist Party, SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus) has provided an opportunity to expand its massive surveillance system. The current extensive network of facial recognition cameras has left some gaps. People could avoid recognition, for example, by wearing a face covering to curb the spread of a respiratory illness. Now, China is looking to fill those gaps by keeping the Alipay Health Code app, launched at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a mainstay for its citizens: Compared to omnipresent facial recognition software and other surveillance systems in China, the health code mechanism covers more people and collects a broader range of personal information. The state can also impose stricter control as people now have to use health codes Read More ›

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Round robot's eye

Exclusive!: John Lennox Answers Our Questions About AI in 2084

In his new book, 2084, the Oxford mathematician doubts that AI, now or then, will out-think humans. Our real worry is how they will be used. Read More ›
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robotic arm catch for electronic assembly line. The robot for smart technology manufacturing process.

What to make of Erica, the AI Superstar Robot?

I have a hard time conceiving of a way that this film could be successful without a little bit of cheating.

An AI super star? In case sci-fi fans haven’t heard, there is a new actress on the block. Her name is Erica and she is a… robot. According to the Hollywood Reporter Erica will star in a sci-fi film called b, “b follows a scientist who discovers dangers associated with a program he created to perfect human DNA and helps the artificially intelligent woman he designed (Erica) escape.” A part of me chuckles, thinking of the creepy uncanny valley Youtube videos of failed attempts at human-like robotics. However, robotics doesn’t seem to be the center of attention here. As Hollywood Reporter also reports, b is, “a $70 million science fiction film which producers say will be the first to rely Read More ›

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Magpie (Pica pica)

Is the Turing Test Misguided? George Montañez comments

When you think about it, the Turing test is a bit of a scam. Human beings are supposed to guess whether we are talking to computers purely according to answers. But clever answers can be precoded by a clever person. We could be talking to a well-trained magpie. George Montañez of Harvey Mudd College argues that the question of whether machines can think, as posed in Alan Turing’s seminal paper in 1950 , “Computing machines and intelligence,” is too vague to admit of an exact answer. Besides which, it is kind of complicated. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-088-George-Montanez.mp3 Transcript. As he told Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks in a recent podcast: George Montañez Yeah. So, there was actually three versions of the Read More ›

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smart medical technology concept, doctor use smart glasses to use augmented reality to show the anatomy body of the patient for analysis and find the way to treatment in surgery room at hospital..

Virtual Reality Joins Actual Reality — and It’s a Real Advance

The grandfather of virtual reality explains how everyone began to think of ways VR might help them

As a result of media reports of his success in pioneering virtual reality for the US Air Force, many people contacted Thomas Furness. asking about civilian uses for virtual reality. In a recent podcast, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks continued his discussion with the “grandfather of virtual reality.” And the people who contacted Furness were not asking for better computer games. They were talking about really serious issues: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-086-Thomas-Furness.mp3 Transcript. Partial transcript: Thomas Furness: One question that came, one of the first ones I received, was from a mother who had watched a program that, apparently I was talking about the virtual cockpit. She called me and said, I watched this program. I want you to know my Read More ›

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EEG Test on an Elderly Man at Hospital Laboratory

Can We Really Cheat Death by Downloading Our Brains?

Through the ages, we have thought of unique ways to avoid death. Could the internet and artificial intelligence help?

Last October, Jay Richards, author of The Human Advantage, caught up with Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks, a Baylor University computer engineering prof, at COSM 2019 to ask, what are our cheat-death chances? They were responding to futurist Ray Kurzweil’s heady claims made at the conference that we will merge with computers by 2045 and live on as AI. Richards and Marks reflected on Kurzweil’s claims and the thoughts of the panel responding to them. Here’s a partial transcript: Jay Richards: He’s (Kurzweil, below right) very much a sort of, I’d say, a techno-optimist. And in fact, he sort of thinks we’re going to get brain scans and upload ourselves, whereas the panel… Though I know there was a Read More ›

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F35 advanced military aircraft locking on target and firing Missile's . 3d rendering

Will AI or Fighter Pilots Win the 2021 Dogfight? Or Both?

The outcome of future warfare will be decided, not by AI alone, but by finding and optimizing the tradeoff between human and artificial intelligence

The US Air Force began as Billy Mitchell’s prophecy that air power could decide the next war. That happened, of course, when the B-29 superfortress dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Ever since, the USAF has sought to adapt to the latest and most decisive forms of military technology. But the challenges have drastically changed. Most recently the USAF started USCYBERCOMMAND, due to the fact that a lone hacker can paralyze an entire nation’s infrastructure.  The USAF also started the new Space Force, since a well placed orbital burst can take down the world’s satellite grid. Now USAF is delving into the world of autonomous drones, the next logical step from the manned drones (drones operated by a controller on Read More ›

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Abstract Chinese flag painted on digital sphere. Futuristic network cyberspace illustration background. View from space. Selective focus used.

China Aims at Global AI Dominance by 2030

China’s systematic use of AI for social surveillance and control should cause us to think carefully about what that means

A 2017 central government document laid out the country’s plan for global dominance in AI by 2030, asking all “people’s governments of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government, all State Council ministries, and all directly controlled institutions” to ”please carefully implement.“ (translation) To achieve that timeline, China has employed several operations against the United States including the Confucius Institutes (fronts for Chinese propaganda according to the FBI, 2020), the Thousand Talents Program (spying and intellectual-property theft, Bloomberg, 2019) and cyber theft. While many Confucius Institutes have been exposed by key members of the Senate and many are being terminated domestically as a result, Chinese-driven cyber theft is costing the U.S. economy more than $100 billion per Read More ›

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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 Read More ›

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rfid tags

What You Need to Know About The Tactile Web

It’s a user-directed integration of technology into life

Many people have heard the term RFID, “radio frequency identifier,” a technology pioneered in the 1980s for creating tracking chips that needn’t be powered to work. This technology has improved quite a bit over the years. The technology area in which RFID originated is called NFC, for “Near-Field Communication.” In themselves, NFC chips are small and unpowered, but they can receive power from nearby devices, thus enabling them to communicate. The amount of work that modern NFC chips can do is amazing. The NXP firm, for instance, manufactures chips that can do full-blown data encryption and signing. These chips are not only powerful, they are also very inexpensive. NFC tags are available as label stickers at prices as low as Read More ›

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Business Ethics

Artificial Ethics May Make Poor Choices

Whether or not AI can become powerful enough to follow its own rules is still an open question

We’ve all heard about computers that make poor ethical choices. One of the most memorable is HAL 9000 in the 1968 classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the film, HAL kills four humans and attempts to kill a fifth. The concurrently written book elaborates on HAL’s murderous plans, explaining that they were due to HAL’s inability to properly make the correct ethical choice: lie to the humans or kill them (and, thus, no longer be forced to lie to them). Poor HAL 9000! If only people had developed a new field of academic inquiry in time to help him (or should we say, “it”?) make better fictional ethical choices! Putting aside Hollywood’s imaginary universes, the real need for the new Read More ›

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HUD Futuristic Screen Design Element Virtual Reality Aerial View Escort Security Technology. UI Information Interface In Cyberspace Scanning Landscape Geometric Wireframe..

VR Was Invented by an Air Force Engineer

Real world concerns drove his inventions, long before Comic Con

In a recent Mind Matters podcast, “Thomas Furness and the invention of virtual reality,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed Thomas Furness, an engineer who wanted American fighter pilots to be able to see what was really happening around them in the air. It seemed that they needed virtual reality to do it. And that’s how the technology that powers so many computer games today got started. The transcript can be downloaded at the bottom of the page here. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-085-Thomas-Furness.mp3 Here is is a partial transcript of highlights from the interview: Virtual reality was pioneered by Thomas Furness during his Air Force service in 1966 when he served as a Second Lieutenant at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Much Read More ›

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Philosopher: Sims Do Not Understand Simhood

Richard Johns explains how you can know for sure that you are not a sim

Recently, philosopher Richard Johns (left), whose work was profiled here at Mind Matters News in “A philosopher explains why thinking matter is impossible,” has now written a piece for Medium. In it, he explains why we cannot create a sim that is a conscious, rational being. He uses a dialogue between “Alice” and “The Programmer” to unpack the idea: The dialogue begins with Alice returning from school to find a strange little man in her apartment. He seemed not to notice her entering the room, and remained seated comfortably in Alice’s favourite armchair, reading her own copy of Nick Bostrom’s “Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?”. “Who the hell are you?” Alice shrieked. “What are you doing in my Read More ›

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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.

Read More ›
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media reporter with microphone making journalist interview for news

Advice to Physicists: “Shut Up and Do Physics”

Well-known public intellectuals sometimes stray outside their silos of expertise, showing questionable judgment about, for example, AI

Stephen Hawking was a genius in theoretical physics but he did not know much about computers and his fears of an AI takeover were unfounded.

Read More ›
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robots call center

Why Richard Dawkins Thinks AI May Replace Us

He likes the idea because it is consistent with his naturalist philosophy

Dawkins thinks we didn’t evolve so as to understand consciousness. But that our odd situation points nowhere. Isn’t all this past its sell-by date?

Read More ›