Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryArtificial Intelligence

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Program development concept. Young man working with computer

Why Software Cannot Just Evolve — a Demonstration

The claims for Avida — a software program that is supposed to “evolve” solutions via neo-Darwinian evolution — fail the most basic test

A Michigan State University publication headlined a media release declaring: “Evolution of learning is key to better artificial intelligence” (September 19, 2019). Reportedly, researchers used the computer simulation software, Avida, to show the “evolution of learning.” On that view, artificial intelligence arises via neo-Darwinian evolution. Really? The “Sound Bites” Were Exciting… The university’s team “composed of biologists and computer scientists used a digital evolution program that allowed them to observe tens of thousands of generations of evolution in just a few hours, a feat unachievable with living systems.” According to the release: • “The results are the first demonstration that shows the evolution of associative learning in an artificial organism without a brain.” • “While the environment was simulated, the…

Machine learning , artificial intelligence , ai, deep learning blockchain neural network concept. Brain made with shining wireframe above multiple blockchain cpu on circuit board 3d render.

Why Oxford’s John Lennox Wrote a Book on AI Promises and Threats

His book 2084 leans on George Orwell’s 1984 but takes its inspiration from C. S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength

Recently, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed Oxford mathematician John Lennox on his latest book 2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity (2020). He focused on why Lennox chose that theme and how far we have caught up with George Orwell’s 1984. Here are some excerpts from the combined interviews in “John Lennox on Artificial Intelligence and Humanity”: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-123-John-Lennox.mp3 A partial transcript follows, along with highlights, Show Notes, and Resources: Robert J. Marks (starting at roughly 1:40 min): Many of Orwell’s predictions about communism were proven. So what will be the effects of AI a century later in the year 2084? Replacing George Orwell is Dr. John Lennox who has written 2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future…

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Bangkok, Thailand 25 AUG 2020. Men hand using digital tablet for search information on Google.  Wireless Smartphone technology with intelligence search engine.

Another AI Ethics Head at Google Gets Fired Over Diversity Issues

The AI ethics team and Google management may have very different ideas about what “ethics” means

On February 19, Google fired Margaret Mitchell, the AI ethics co-lead at Google Brain. Mitchell’s co-leading colleague, Timnit Gebru, had been fired in December, amid controversy. Both women were critical of Google’s diversity hiring record during the two years they worked together. The flashpoint in Mitchell’s case, for which she had been temporarily suspended earlier, hinged on claims of unauthorized use of files: In a statement, a Google spokesperson said Mitchell had shared “confidential business-sensitive documents and private data of other employees” outside the company. After Mitchell’s suspension last month, Google said activity in her account had triggered a security system. A source familiar with Mitchell’s suspension said she had been using a script to search her email for material…

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Acceleration of Painted Dream

A Reader Asks: Is It True That There Is No Self?

The assertion that self is an illusion is not even wrong — it’s self-refuting, like saying “I don’t exist” or “Misery is green”

Sir, I am confused after reading the view of materialist philosophers regarding the sense of self. One of them, Thomas Meitzinger, a German philosopher and expert in conciousness, said that “There is no self” in his book. He said that self is an illusion produced by modules of brain. Is it so? Please help me understand this view. Thomas Meitzinger (pictured) is a prominent philosopher of mind who has a strong interest in artificial intelligence. I don’t know his work well, but what I do know of it, I find unintelligible. Perhaps it’s me, or perhaps he’s a sophist, or perhaps both. But this much is clear: My self cannot be an illusion, because having an illusion presupposes a self.…

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Sea turtle coming out of the shell

AI May Help Save Endangered Turtles via GPS Tracking “Eggs”

InvestEGGator “eggs” look real but they conceal GPS trackers, which could identify turtle egg smugglers

It’s an ingenious idea; too bad no one thought of it earlier: Place GPS-enabled decoy sea turtle eggs into nests on the beach and see where a smuggler takes them: The egg decoys, dubbed InvestEggator, were developed by the conservation organization Paso Pacifico to address the illegal trade of endangered sea turtles in Central America, where the eggs are smuggled from beaches and sold to restaurants and bars as a delicacy. Paso Pacifico-affiliated scientist Kim Williams-Guillen conceived and designed the decoys in response to a call for proposals from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge. Cell Press, “Tracking sea turtle egg traffickers with GPS-enabled decoy eggs” at ScienceDaily The paper is open access. Williams-Guillen…

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Border collie dog catching frisbee in jump

Researchers Disappointed By Efforts to Teach AI Common Sense

When it comes to common sense, can the researchers really dispense with the importance of life experience?

A recent experiment showed that AI still does not show common sense: “Current machine text-generation models can write an article that may be convincing to many humans, but they’re basically mimicking what they have seen in the training phase,” said [PhD student Yuchen] Lin. “Our goal in this paper is to study the problem of whether current state-of-the-art text-generation models can write sentences to describe natural scenarios in our everyday lives.” University of Southern California, “New test reveals AI still lacks common sense” at ScienceDaily The paper is open access. Essentially, fake news bots can sound like the New York Times or marketing copy by generating mimics, after taking in thousands of natural examples. But it isn’t thinking about any…

new technologies, a child uses a futuristic processor for augmented reality. high technology and communication concept. TV

Theoretical Physicist Argues, the Sim Universe Is Pseudoscience

It’s a lot of fun in science fiction and some scitech celebs buy in. But Sabine Hossenfelder and others explain why it’s fiction

Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder does not like the notion that we are living in a giant computer sim. Elon Musk likes it (“Elon Musk says there’s a ‘one in billions’ chance reality is not a simulation”) and so does Neil deGrasse Tyson (“Neil deGrasse Tyson says it’s ‘very likely’ the universe is a simulation”). Philosopher of science Nick Bostrom advanced that view in a seminal 2003 paper in Philosophical Quarterly. Former Astronomer Royal Martin Rees is sympathetic to it. Some call it the Planetarium hypothesis, when it is cited as a reason we do not see intelligent extraterrestrials. One source offers “15 irrefutable reasons” why, like Neo in The Matrix (1999), we might be living in a universe that is…

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Social scoring and rating symbol abstract 3d illustration

Face recognition: Is the U.S. Copying China’s Surveillance State?

Although facial recognition (and the resulting “social credit score”) prevail in China, the technology is getting pushback in America

In a recent article, I recounted the story of Dana Kurtbek, who has faced harassment from the DHS and the FBI after facial recognition technology and anonymous reports placed her inside the Capitol Building during the riot on January 6th. By her own account, she never came closer than a mile from the Capitol. She expressed concern to Mind Matters News that the continuing harassment may have resulted from neighbors who disagree with her pro-Trump views reporting her to the federal government. Facial recognition technology and neighbors as informants may sound strange to American ears, but in China, both are essential elements of the Chinese Communist Party’s technocratic regime. In 2014, China unveiled a social credit system that Human Rights…

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Cancel Culture Symbol

How an AI Giant Beat Cancel Culture (You Can Too!)

A Twitter mob led by an AI industry bully made a mistake when it came for University of Washington's Pedro Domingos

These days Cancel culture can descend suddenly on anyone who doesn’t think the way a Twitter mob likes about one or another issue. For example: ➤ Celebrity atheist scientist Richard Dawkins was Canceled from speaking at Trinity College in Ireland because he has said critical things about Islam and about some claims of sexual assault. Note: Dawkins says critical things about all religions but Cancel mobs focus narrowly. ➤ The enforcement is irrational. Antiracist author Ibrahim X. Kendi can make negative statements about transgender culture comparatively safely but J. K. Rowlings, in a similar circumstance, became the target of a vicious “deplatform” campaign, against which she ably defended herself. However, people who cannot write like Rowlings have not nearly been…

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Senior Care And Technology

Sophia the Robot Retooled to Help With Senior Care

Hanson Robotics sees a huge opportunity in the COVID lockdowns for a mass robot rollout that substitutes for human companionship

Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics is rolling out Sophia the Robot, to help people cope with loneliness during government-enforced isolation as a response to COVID-19. Brushing aside claims that human contact is preferred, firm’s principals see the lockdowns as creating new opportunities for the robotics industry. Founder and CEO David Hanson says, “Sophia and Hanson robots are unique by being so human-like. That can be so useful during these times where people are terribly lonely and socially isolated”: Social robotics professor Johan Hoorn, whose research has included work with Sophia, said that although the technology is still in relative infancy, the pandemic could accelerate a relationship between humans and robots. “I can infer the pandemic will actually help us get robots…

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AI(Artificial intelligence) concept.

Exactly What IS Artificial Intelligence Anyway?

How does AI relate to machine learning (ML), neural computing, informatics, and a host of other hot CS buzz words?

Robert J. Marks, director of the Walter Bradley Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence, likes to explain AI by saying “AI is anything computers do that is kind of amazing.” (“Human Exceptionalism,” Reasons to Believe, August 8, 2020). Using this definition AI is a general term that includes a collection of computer science technologies. AI is fluid. Dr. Elaine Rich (pictured), noted computer scientist and an author of Artificial Intelligence, offers a more specific definition: “AI is the study of how to make computers do things which, at the moment, people do better.” (Accessed February 17, 2021) Relying on this definition John Hsia observes: “By definition, once a computer can do what people used to do better, it’s no longer…

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Ring fire in black

AI profs: Beware “Black Ball” Tech That Could Destroy the Planet

Oxford Future of Humanity researchers contemplate a technology with immense destructive powers that is easy to access and use

Nick Bostrom and Matthew van der Merwe of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute offer a sticky question: What if we invented a “black ball” technology, one that destroyed human civilization? In the wake of Hiroshima, many people predicted that nuclear technologies would destroy the world. Albert Einstein is purported to have said, “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” However, say Bostrom and van der Merwe, to make nuclear technology work for you, you need to be a nuclear physicist. One might add that radioactive materials also “send messages.” Figuring out what untrusted actors are doing with nukes did not prove to be…

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A black cat plays with a robotic vacuum cleaner that cleans the floor.pet playing with robot vacuum cleaner

Sci-fi Saturday: The Disabled Robot Vet Gets a Job Grooming Cats

Definitely worth your five minutes, in part in order to see what cartoonists can do in sci-fi with animated stills.

“A Robot is a Robot” at DUST by Danish cartoonists Emil Friis Ernst and Nilas Røpke Driessen (February 2, 2021, 05:49 min) tells a tale: “A disabled robot war veteran finds its home among humans in the tender care of an old lady, and her hair salon for cats.” The story is told, intriguingly, as a series of cartoon stills and animated stills, beginning with the robot veteran begging on the sidewalk, whereupon the old lady takes him in. The robot floats on a single wheel and has a body like a metal tea cozy — a nice change from the more “android” type. She employs the robot to groom cats, who seem to appreciate his work, until he encounters…

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Robot eyes closeup

Can Robots Be Engineered To Actually Feel Pain?

The descriptions of recent robotics successes slide effortlessly from “can experience” the sense of touch down to “simulate” sensations of pain

Recently, an article in Neuroscience News made some confusing claims, especially the claim that robots can have experiences in the same sense as living entities can. Let’s look at some of them: In an article from HSE University in Russia about about developing robotic intelligence based on the human brain, we read: Today, neuroscience and robotics are developing hand in hand. Mikhail Lebedev, Academic Supervisor at HSE University’s Centre for Bioelectric Interfaces, spoke about how studying the brain inspires the development of robots. HSE University, “How Modern Robots Are Developed” at Neuroscience News February 3, 2021 One identified goal is to merge “biological organisms with machines, to create cybernetic organisms (cyborgs).” Given that the human brain does not really behave…

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Female chromosomes, medical artwork

AI Can Fight COVID by Detecting Changes in Virus “Language”

One research team is experimenting with natural language processors (NLP), used to analyze human speech, to detect similar virus mutations

One strategy in the fight against COVID-19 relies on the curious fact that genetics is actually a language. Genome sequencer Francis Collins has even called it The Language of God. More practically, AI programs that act as natural language processors can help catch deadly coronavirus mutations. The same strategies the AIs use for reading sentences can be used to read the virus’s attempts to escape destruction by mutations: Galileo once observed that nature is written in math. Biology might be written in words. Natural-language processing (NLP) algorithms are now able to generate protein sequences and predict virus mutations, including key changes that help the coronavirus evade the immune system. The key insight making this possible is that many properties of…

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Shot of Corridor in Working Data Center Full of Rack Servers and Supercomputers with Pink Neon Visualization Projection of Data Transmission Through High Speed Internet.

Would Super AI Cure Cancer — or Destroy the Earth?

Max Planck Institute computer scientists say that we not only don’t but can’t know

An international team of computer scientists associated with the Max Planck Institute concluded that, given the nature of computers, there is no way of determining what superintelligent AI would do: An international team of computer scientists used theoretical calculations to show that it would be fundamentally impossible to control a super-intelligent AI “A super-intelligent machine that controls the world sounds like science fiction. But there are already machines that perform certain important tasks independently without programmers fully understanding how they learned it. The question therefore arises whether this could at some point become uncontrollable and dangerous for humanity”, says study co-author Manuel Cebrian, Leader of the Digital Mobilization Group at the Center for Humans and Machines, Max Planck Institute for…

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Programming language and development of applications concept on yellow blue background. Training courses of php, sql, html, css and other disciplines.

Human Ingenuity vs. the Computer’s Halting Problem

In a dialogue with a friendly skeptic, I suggested an explanation he found astounding but it’s the only possible one

When studying computer science a student invariably learns about the infamous halting problem. The problem states there is no general algorithm that can determine for every deterministic computer program whether that program will halt or not. This struck me as absurd when I first learned of the problem. Surely a whizkid like myself could design a simple algorithm to track the program’s memory and catch when it started repeating itself and determined it would not halt. Once convinced the problem was indeed provably unsolvable, I then thought the problem must show that humans are not computers. This is because it seems intuitive that for every program, if I watch it enough and think about it carefully enough, I should be…

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Binary digits stolen computer data, cyber attack threat

How Russia Uses New Tech to Create Chaos in the United States

Information warfare is part of the new Russian warfare strategy known as the Gerasimov and Primakov doctrines

In last Thursday’s podcast, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks hosted Denise Simon, an intelligence analyst, talking about the way hostile foreign powers can use AI to generate false information. Denise Simon describes that and other techniques as a “new art form” and this time she explains how Russia uses it against the United States. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-119-Denise-Simon.mp3 A partial transcript follows. This portion begins at about 09.33. Show notes and links follow. Robert J. Marks: We’ve been talking primarily about disrupting media with fake news. What other sort of things are the Russians doing? Denise Simon: They will create fake companies in the United States. They will hide money and people in the United States. In fact, they just found…

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Brain made of oil

Will Ordinary Human Intelligence Become the New “Oil”?

At one time, the tech craze was for outsourcing jobs. Maybe it’s time to look at “insourcing” instead

Outsourcing is the silver bullet of the IT age. Everything can be made more cheaply and more profitably by sourcing the work from places with a lower cost of living. But do those places always have to be overseas? Not necessarily. The perils of overseas outsourcing are well known, ranging from communication through cultural or time zone incompatibilities. What if there were a way to eliminate those incompatibilities while still retaining the benefits of workers who live in an area with a lower cost of living? This is possible through “insourcing.” There are regions of the United States where the cost of living is quite low, allowing companies to have their cake and eat it too. Work can be done…

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KI abstraktes Gesicht. Neuronales Netzwerk & maschinelles lernen. Verarbeiten von riesigen Datenmengen. IoT, DeepFake, Virtueller Assistent. 3d Illustration Hintergrund

Can Deepfakes Substitute for Actors?

Would you care if the actor is a real person or not?

When our Walter Bradley Center director, Robert J. Marks, was discussing with Eric Holloway the events that really made a difference in AI, one very interesting issue that came up was the use of deepfakes to substitute for actors in films. Robert J. Marks: Eric, how is Disney using deep fakes in entertainment? Eric Holloway: Well, Disney is using deep fakes and entertainment as a way to capitalize on not having to hire lots of really expensive actors. So you can have a few expensive actors, they do their thing, and then you copy their body movements and face. And now you can just hire a bunch of cheap actors and stick the expensive actors faces on them. Or you…