Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategoryArtificial Intelligence

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Robot concept or robot hand chatbot pressing computer keyboard enter

Can a Machine Really Write for the New Yorker?

If AI wins at chess and Go, why not? Then someone decided to test that…

Tech philosopher and futurist George Gilder (pictured) has a new book out, Gaming AI. Short and sweet, it explains how artificial intelligence (AI) will—and won’t—revolutionize the economy and human life. Get your free digital copy here. And now, below is a short piece he wrote, unpacking one of the book’s themes—the claim that AI can do anything that humans can do. Find out why he says no: Ilya Sutskever (pictured) may be the smartest man in the world you have never heard of. No sweat, I hadn’t heard of him either. Still under 40, he’s part of the all-male Google mindfest around “Google Brain.” His IQ honed at Open University of Israel and mentored by Artificial Intelligence (AI) pioneer Geoffrey…

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China flag and praying patriot man with crossed hands. Holding cross, hoping and wishing.

How China’s Technocracy Uses the Pandemic to Suppress Religion

The pandemic provided a pretext to install surveillance equipment in churches and surveil believers online

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the ways that technology can lead either to greater accessibility or greater oppression. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is now using the same technologies that have given many people around the world access to religious materials and church services during the pandemic to forcibly stop religious gatherings and restrict the distribution of religious materials within China. Although the CCP is officially atheist, over 60% of the population adheres to a recognized religion; 30.8% practice Chinese folk religions, 16.6% Buddhism, 7.4% Christianity, 4.2% ethnic religion, and 1.8% Islam. Authentic numbers may be higher, given the risk of punishment for practicing certain religions in China. The Chinese government has persecuted, tortured, and imprisoned Falun Gong members…

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Pink Neon sign 'Don't quit'

Are Deepfakes Too Deep for Us? Or Can We Fight Back?

Keeping up with the fakers is becoming more of a challenge

Since 2014, there has been a new twist to misrepresentation in politics: deepfakes—computer-generated images that seem quite real. Adam Garfinkle of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University explains how the technology, generative adversarial networks (GANs), works: A GAN operator pits a generator (G) against a discriminator (D) in a gamelike environment in which G tries to fool D into incorrectly discriminating between fake and real data. The technology works by means of a series of incremental but rapid adjustments that allows D to discriminate data while G tries to fool it. Adam Garfinkle, ““Disinformed”” at Inference Review Once the problem is reduced to a giant calculation, a giant computer learns much more quickly than the rest of us. And it can then…

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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…

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View on russian pilotless air craft. Military drones on exhibition

Russia Is Systematically Copying U.S. Military AI Robotics

In Russia’s topdown system, the military and corporations are essentially part of the same enterprise

This week’s podcast, “AI development in Russia,” is Part 2 of a podcast featuring Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks in discussion with Samuel Bendett about Russia’s intended military uses of AI. Bendett is an advisor to the Russia Studies Program and the Center for Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence of the CNA Adversary Analysis Group. Last week, Marks and Bendett discussed Russia’s advances in facial recognition techniques for the surveillance of civilians. In the background was Vladimir Putin’s famous 2017 pronouncement in 2017, “Artificial intelligence is the future not only of Russia but of all of mankind… Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.” What are the military implications? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-104-Samuel-Bendett.mp3 From the…

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Female doctor analyzing liquid in test tube

The Decline Effect: Why Most Medical Treatments Are Disappointing

Artificial intelligence is not an answer to this problem, as Walmart may soon discover
Random variation, post-hoc fallacies, and data mining mean that “proven” treatments often decline in apparent effectiveness when released to the general public. Read More ›
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Department store shop class luxury, near the Red Bridge, historical buildings of Saint-Petersburg. In the background the city and St. Isaac's Cathedral dome of golden color, in the evening at sunset.

Russia Aims to Close the Technology Gap With the United States

Independent since 1991, the vast nation offers a government version of Silicon Valley culture

In this week’s podcast, “AI development in Russia, Part 1,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks talks with Samuel Bendett about Russia’s struggles to develop AI for entrepreneurship and free enterprise, rather than military uses. It turns out to be mainly a cultural struggle, as historic institutions must adapt to an environment where market dominance is more important than military dominance. Mr. Bendett, who is fluent in Russian and English, is an advisor to the Russia Studies Program and the Center for Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence of the CNA Adversary Analysis Group. And how is Russia faring? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-103-Samuel-Bendett.mp3 From the transcript: (Show Notes, Resources, and a link to the complete transcript follow.) Robert J. Marks (pictured): What I want…

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Group of friends using smartphones to communicate in social media. Concept of a generation of millennials who are online all the time. Warm hipster filter.

The Social Dilemma: You’re Not the Customer, You’re the Product

A new Netflix documentary explores the techniques used to explore, then shape and sharpen, our attitudes, values, and beliefs

What is truth? This question has likely been pondered by man for as long as man has been able to ponder. How do you know that what you read or hear is true? How do you know that what you think is true? Why is it that people with different worldviews or belief systems can look at the exact same raw objective data and interpret it in radically different ways? The answers to these questions are important to “know”, insofar as anyone can know anything within a reasonable degree of certainty. However, in our society today, it is becoming more and more difficulty to determine what is true––with any degree of certainty. A recent 90-minute Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma,…

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Abstract 3d render, geometric composition, yellow background design with cubes

Interview: New Book Outlines the Perils of Big (Meaningless) Data

Gary Smith, co-author with Jay Cordes of Phantom Patterns, shows why human wisdom and common sense are more important than ever now

Economist Gary Smith and statistician Jay Cordes have a new book out, The Phantom Pattern Problem: The mirage of big data, on why we should not trust Big Data over common sense. In their view, it’s a dangerous mix: Humans naturally assume that all patterns are significant. But AI cannot grasp the meaning of any pattern, significant or not. Thus, from massive number crunches, we may “learn” (if that’s the right word) that Stock prices can be predicted from Google searches for the word debt. Stock prices can be predicted from the number of Twitter tweets that use “calm” words. An unborn baby’s sex can be predicted by the amount of breakfast cereal the mother eats. Bitcoin prices can be…

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sunset on a yurt , in the grassland of Mongolia

High-Tech Suppression of China’s Mongol Region Provokes Protests

But Mongolian protesters against Chinese-dominated schools are threatened with loss of social credit, which means no jobs or loans

China is removing the Mongolian language and culture from the curriculum and textbooks in Inner Mongolia (see outline map), an autonomous region in China. In August, leaked government documents showed that language and literature, civics, and history will be taught in Mandarin rather than Mongolian in schools where Mongolian is the primary language. Additionally, the new textbooks replace stories about historic Mongolian heroes with Chinese ballads and expunge a popular folk verse that expresses pride in the Mongolian culture and language. In response, many parents in Inner Mongolia (called Southern Mongolia locally) have been keeping their children from attending school on September 1. In retaliation, state authorities threaten their jobs and social credit status: Southern Mongolia has quickly become a…

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Robot standing holding a pencil on notebook,retro vintage style

Can AI Write the Great American Novel? Or Compose Sports News?

It’s a split decision, say Rensselaer prof Selmer Bringsjord and Baylor computer engineering prof Robert J. Marks

In a recent podcast, Rensselaer professor Selmer Bringsjord discusses AI and creativity with computer engineering professor and Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks. The difference between writing novels and playing games like Go and chess is that writing novels does not mean winning according to a set of rules. A machine can be programmed with rules and do the calculations faster—much, much faster—than a human. A good novel requires creativity in the face of situations that are only partly definable. If a novel succeeds, many people agree that the writer has captured essential elements of human nature and life circumstances. That’s what makes the great novels so memorable. Sports reporting is somewhere in the middle in that a great…

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robotic arms in a car plant

Elon Musk Tweet Shows Why Many Doubt Origin of Life Studies

Musk was talking about the origin of machines, not life, but the principle is, perhaps surprisingly, the same
Creating a machine that manufactures or a cell that reproduces is much harder than creating a prototype of either. It’s a search for a search. Read More ›
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Evolving Technology

Can Computers Evolve to Program Themselves Without Programmers?

How much computing power would we need to evolve the programmer’s intelligence via Darwinian evolution

At Science earlier this year, we were told that “Researchers have created software that borrows concepts from Darwinian evolution, including ‘survival of the fittest,’ to build AI programs that improve generation after generation without human input.” Critics say it’s not that easy. Computer scientist Roman Yampolskiy (pictured) discusses the problem in an open access paper, starting with a joke: On April 1, 2016 Dr. Yampolskiy posted the following to his social media accounts: “Google just announced major layoffs of programmers. Future software development and updates will be done mostly via recursive self-improvement by evolving deep neural networks”. The joke got a number of “likes” but also, interestingly, a few requests from journalists for interviews on this “developing story”. To non-experts…

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Entrance gate to Persepolis Persia Iran Gate of All Nations

How Much Can New AI Tell Us About Ancient Times?

An ambitious new project hopes to use the predictive text that cell phones use to unlock their stories

Many researchers hope that AI will leading to a“golden age” of discovery for lost languages, hard to decipher writings, and badly damaged Biblical scrolls. Algorithms can chug through vast numbers of possibilities of interpretation, presenting the scholar with probabilities to choose from. But even powerful algorithms have their work cut out for them. For example, of the hundreds of thousands of clay (cuneiform) tablets that survive from an ancient part of the Near East called Mesopotamia, many are damaged. We may know the language but we don’t know what’s missing from the text and what difference the missing part makes to what is being said. Experts try to fill in the missing parts but guessing at all the possibilities is…

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virtual keyboard

SwiftKey Co-founder: Computers Can’t Just “Evolve” Intelligence

Can vain hopes for AI spring from a wrong understanding of evolution?
Ben Medlock asks us to look at self-organization as a principle of life, lacking in computers. Read More ›
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abstract binary code science computing center

Can AI Really Evolve into Superintelligence All by Itself?

We can’t just turn a big computer over to evolution and go away and hope for great things

At Science earlier this year it was claimed that Darwinian evolution alone can make computers much smarter. As a result, researchers hoped to “discover something really fundamental that will take a long time for humans to figure out”: Artificial intelligence (AI) is evolving—literally. Researchers have created software that borrows concepts from Darwinian evolution, including “survival of the fittest,” to build AI programs that improve generation after generation without human input. The program replicated decades of AI research in a matter of days, and its designers think that one day, it could discover new approaches to AI. Edd Gent, “Artificial intelligence is evolving all by itself” at Science (April 30, 2020) How does that work? The program discovers algorithms using a…

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The  man wiht a CPU.

Will a Brain-Computer Interface Be a Boon or a Nightmare?

BCI is probably coming anyway, and whether it is a good thing or a bad thing largely depends on how we choose to use it

Talk about a scary headline from an impressive research group!: “The Brain-Computer Interface is coming — and we are just so not ready for it” from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Okay, what’s going on? Both more and less than we think, depending on what we focus on. The Bulletin, published since 1947, is best known for a Doomsday Clock which expresses how close the editors think we are to nuclear war and climate apocalypse. An article in the current edition of the Bulletin covers the remarkable advances in prosthetics in recent years, in hooking up neurons (which use electrical signals) to electronic limbs, enabling much better control of prostheses. But the startling thing to realize is where researchers…

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Call for papers (Cfp, science)

From Nature: A New, Topflight Computer Science Journal

Starting in January 2021, it proposes to tackle a key problem in computer use in science - replication of findings

The Springer Nature Group is launching a new online-only journal,Nature Computational Science. It is described as a “dedicated home for computational science” and we are told: Recent advances in computer technology, be it in hardware or in software, have revolutionized the way researchers do science: problems that are too complex for human or analytical solutions are now easier to address; problems that would take years to solve can now be unraveled in days, hours, or even seconds. The use and development of advanced computing capabilities to analyse and solve scientific problems, also known as computational science, has undoubtedly played a key role in transformational scientific breakthroughs of our last century, making progress possible in many different disciplines. Elizabeth Hawkins, “A…

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Businesswoman hand holding wooden cube with flip over block CHANGE to CHANCE word on table background. success, strategy, solution, business and Positive thinking concepts

Evolution And Artificial Intelligence Face The Same Basic Problem

Think of the word ladder game, where we transform one word into another by changing only one letter at a time
Without knowledge about the goal and how to get there, it rapidly becomes first difficult and then completely impossible to reach the goal. Read More ›
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Astronaut and robot or artificial intelligence handshake on alien planet.

Should Robots, Instead of Humans, Go Into Space?

They might be better at life in space than humans. But could they be counselors too?

Are we here to re-create ourselves as robotic humanoids? In a recent podcast, Robert J. Marks discusses what robots can do for us with retired internist and author Geoffrey Simmons. In his most recent book, Are We Here to Re-Create Ourselves?: The Convergence of Designs (2019), Simmons argues that in creating artificially intelligent robots, we are trying to recreate the human being. But can we really recreate everything about ourselves? For example, they discussed, can robots be counselors? Should robots go into space instead of humans? As a writer, Simmons has found audiences for both fiction and non-fiction. For example, he wrote Z-papers (1976), a medically based crime thriller in which “In a Chicago hospital, the U.S. Vice Presidential candidate…