Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategoryArtificial Intelligence

Doctor using finger to hold a brain model with both hands in concept of taking care the brain

Why the Brain Is Not at All like a Computer

Seeing the brain as a computer is an easy misconception rather than an informative image, says biomedical engineer Yuri Danilov

As soon as you assume that each neuron is a microprocessor, says Danilov, you assume that there is a programmer. There is no programmer in the brain; there are no algorithms in the brain. However, it is "extremely painful" for many people to let go of the idea.

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Shovel Annie Spratt Unsplash annie-spratt-j4fV6dKT9tw-unsplash

Do We Need To Learn from AI How To Think Better?

No, and a moment’s thought shows why not
AI can become our "collaborators" only in the sense that a shovel can collaborate with me to dig a hole: It amplifies my powers to do things which are otherwise difficult. Read More ›
Silent reading Jilbert Ebrahimi Unsplash -HAwA1N2gjo8

AlterEgo Does Not Read Your Mind

What it really does may surprise you but many claims made for it are deceptive
AlterEgo may prove invaluable for applications like helping the severely handicapped by using muscle movements that are usually unnoticed. But despite headlines and publicity claiming otherwise, it provides no technical stride forward in the field of AI-brain interface. Read More ›
Machine vision Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash SrC5iuVJk_c

What You See That the Machine Doesn’t

You see the “skeleton” of an idea
Humans can intuit the underlying forms that govern shapes, in part by guessing the intentions of other humans. Machine vision does not intuit things, which may be one reason for its odd misidentifications. Read More ›
Game's white and black stone on cross board.

Alpha Go as Alpha Maybe?

DeepMind's AlphaGo defeated a world-champion Go player but further gains were hard won at best
The question scientists must ask, especially about an unexpected finding, is, if no one can reproduce your results, did you discover something new or did you just get lucky? With AI that’s not easy, due to dependence on randomness. Read More ›
Composite image of interface

Google Glass Inventor to Speak at COSM, October 25

Babak Parviz, now an Amazon vice-president, is keenly interested in services for the swelling aged population worldwide
Joining Parviz on the panel will be Matt Scholz, CEO of Oisin Technologies (researching treatments for age-related diseases), George Gilder, philosopher of technology, and Lindy Fishburne, executive director of Breakout Labs, which funds innovative science ventures. Read More ›
rodrigo-de-mendoza-Dg0-_ioXtng-unsplash

Ask Alexa (and an anonymous crowd answers?)

Amazon is testing a crowd sourcing approach to difficult questions. How did that work out at Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is a classic example of how crowdsourcing can go wrong. The obvious problem is anonymity and the lack of accountability that goes with it.

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Stack of books with laptop

Has Aristo broken bounds for thinking computers?

The Grade 8 graduate improves on Watson but we must still think for ourselves at school. Here’s why
Aristo combines questions and answers on a multiple-choice test to decide on the best answer without understanding any of the information. Read More ›
silhouette of business people networking on cyberspace

Your Software Could Have More Rights Than You

Depending on politics and court judgments, legal loopholes could lead to AI personhood

We have already witnessed an example of such an indignity. and consequent outrage, from many feminist scholars when Sophia the robot was granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia, a country notorious for unequal treatment of women.

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スマートスピーカー

Alexa Really Does Not Understand Us

In a recent test, only 35 percent of the responses to simple questions were judged adequate
Actually, I am impressed that voice assistants work as well as they do, given the number of AI problems that were solved. But consider how much more complex the problems facing a self-driving car are. Read More ›
Sock monkey using a computer

Why can’t monkeys typing forever produce Shakespeare?

Before communication can begin, there must be an intention to communicate

Practitioners in the field of artificial intelligence often assume that intent does not matter in defining intelligence or that intent does not exist, that it is a useful illusion. Neither of these two approaches will work. Real communication requires intent.

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golden angelic character rising from black liquid. 3d illustration

Do Churches Need a Catechism for Robots?

Are the claims about spiritual robots just an intellectual cottage industry for edgy clergy?

Some people have taken Pope Francis’s musings in recent years to mean pretty much whatever they want them to mean. For example, But Francis’s wide arms have arguably never stretched further than a mass in 2014 when he suggested the church would baptize Martians. “If—for example—tomorrow an expedition of Martians came … and one says, ‘But I want to be baptized!’ What would happen?” Pope Francis asked. “When the Lord shows us the way, who are we to say, ‘No, Lord, it is not prudent! No, let’s do it this way.’” Jonathan Merritt, “Is AI a Threat to Christianity?” at The Atlantic (February 3, 2017) Merritt promptly converts the hypothetical question—which depends, of course, on the assumption that Martians are Read More ›

Group of kids walk over high log in the forest
Group of kids walk over high log in the forest finding balance with hands one after another view from bellow

If Computers Are Intelligent, Climbing a Tree Is Flying

That, says Edward Feser, is the take-home message from Gary Smith’s book, The AI Delusion

The book’s message is that “the real danger of artificial intelligence is that it will remain dumber than we are,” but we will think it is smarter.

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Orange robots carrying pallets with goods in modern warehouse. Modern delivery center concept. 3D rendering image.
Orange robots carrying pallets with goods in modern warehouse. Modern delivery center concept. 3D rendering image.

They Say the New Delivery Service Is a Robot…

But of course there is a human (many, possibly) in the loop

Why do some PR agencies think it is so important that we forget the fellow human beings who help us, using robotic devices?

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The car made of grass.

Can We “Evolve” Self-Driving Cars?

The new method may be an advance but thinking of it as "evolution" at work risks misconceptions

In evolution, “performance” just means the continued survival of a lineage. Thus it can include hybrids between what you might want for your purposes and what you don’t want.

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Joyful preteen lady beaming while embracing human like root

Tell Kids the Robot Is “It,” Not “He”

Teaching children to understand AI and robotics is part of a good education today

We are not truly likely to be ruled by AI overlords (as opposed to powerful people using AI. But even doubtful predictions may be self-fulfilling if enough impressionable people come to believe them. Children, for example. We adults are aware of the limitations of AI. But if we talk about AI devices as if they were people, children—who often imbue even stuffed toys with complex personalities—may be easily confused. Sue Shellenbarger, Work & Family columnist at The Wall Street Journal, warns that already, “Many children think robots are smarter than humans or imbue them with magical powers.” While she admits that the “long-term consequences” are still unclear, “an expanding body of research” suggests we need to train children to draw Read More ›

MP voting
Member of Romanian Parliament is voting by raising his hand

Will Government Intervention Solve High-Tech’s Problems?

At the COSM summit in October, a Wall Street Journal columnist will make the case for no

Andy Kessler, Inside View columnist at The Wall Street Journal “on technology and markets and where they intersect with culture,” is a skeptic of Big Regulation. He has seen the issues from a variety of positions, having been both a software designer and an investment broker.

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alchemy still life

Pursuit of the AI Singularity Is Modern Alchemy

Just as lead cannot just become gold, software cannot just become creative
Isaac Newton was a great scientist but he wasted a lot of time trying to turn lead into gold. Today, some great computer scientists waste a lot of time trying to produce AI that creates better AI without a programmer. Read More ›
Photo by TRΛVELER .
Hammer and nails

Is Technology a Tool or a Tyrant?

A conversation between tech entrepreneurs Jack Ma and Elon Musk outlines some choices

Last week noted U.S. technologist Elon Musk and Alibaba executive Jack Ma engaged in a friendly debate at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai. The two agreed on a lot. AI is useful, it isn’t going anywhere, and the technology will continually improve. Where they differed is what it means for us humans. For Ma, technology is a tool for our benefit. In his thinking, our technological future will bring us to a point where the average person need only work a few hours a week. Technology will automate away most of the treacherous or dull tasks and allow us to spend more time being human, engaging in the arts, and engaging with each other. Musk’s view of technology Read More ›

Resting at office

If AI dumbed us down, would we even know?

Silicon Valley pros face the challenges head-on
Does the constant use of machine aids rob us of natural smarts? If not, how are they helping us? Are there ways we can change the mix? Read More ›