Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryArtificial Intelligence

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New Book Massively Debunks Our “AI Overlords”: Ain’t Gonna Happen

AI researcher and tech entrepreneur Eric J. Larson expertly dissects the AI doomsday scenarios

AI researcher and tech entrepreneur Eric J. Larson has just published a book, The Myth of Artificial Intelligence: Why Computers Can’t Think the Way We Do (Harvard University Press, 2021). It debunks the “AI is taking over” claims from people as varied as futurist inventor Ray Kurzweil and the late Stephen Hawking — media love that sort of thing. We are less likely to hear from well-qualified people who say it’s nonsense. But now is our chance. For example, iconic Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel (think PayPal) offers an endorsement: “If you want to know about AI, read this book. For several reasons ― most of all because it shows how a supposedly futuristic reverence for Artificial Intelligence retards progress…

Sisters playing with wagon cart on the road outdoors

Artificial Unintelligence

The failure of computer programs to recognize a rudimentary drawing of a wagon reveals the vast differences between artificial and human intelligence

In 1979, when he was just 34 years old, Douglas Hofstadter won a National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for his book, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, which explored how our brains work and how computers might someday mimic human thought. He has spent his life trying to solve this incredibly difficult puzzle. How do humans learn from experience? How do we understand the world we live in? Where do emotions come from? How do we make decisions? Can we write inflexible computer code that will mimic the mysteriously flexible human mind?  Hofstadter has concluded that analogy is “the fuel and fire of thinking.” When humans see, hear, or read something, we can focus on the most salient features, its “skeletal essence.”…

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What Is the Essential Feature of Creative Intelligence?

Creative intelligence is easier to describe by what it is not than by what it is. But there is a clue in that very fact…

I’ve spent the past couple articles debunking artificial intelligence. It is just as artificial as its name suggests. It takes on the appearance of intelligence through speed but it lacks the fundamental ability to create a well-matched start and end. So a perceptive reader has returned with another good question: “What is creative intelligence?” The reader is right to ask. Yes, telling someone that the exquisite dessert is not celery and not cod liver oil does not help us understand what the dessert itself is. There is a mystery regarding the very nature of human intelligence. Like its antithesis, randomness, creative intelligence is easier to describe by what it is not than by what it is. But, we can try!…

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.
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.

AI Researcher: Stop Calling Everything “Artificial Intelligence”

It’s not really intelligence, says Berkeley’s Michael Jordan, and we risk misunderstanding what these machines can really do for us

Computer scientist Michael I. Jordan, a leading AI researcher, says today’s artificial intelligence systems aren’t actually intelligent and people should stop talking about them as if they were: They are showing human-level competence in low-level pattern recognition skills, but at the cognitive level they are merely imitating human intelligence, not engaging deeply and creatively, says Michael I. Jordan, a leading researcher in AI and machine learning. Jordan is a professor in the department of electrical engineering and computer science, and the department of statistics, at the University of California, Berkeley. Katy Pretz, “Stop Calling Everything AI, Machine-Learning Pioneer Says” at IEEE Spectrum (March 31, 2031) Their principal role, he says, is to “augment human intelligence, via painstaking analysis of large…

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Chaitin’s Number Talks To Turing’s Halting Problem

Why is Chaitin’s number considered unknowable even though the first few bits have been computed?

In last week’s podcast,, “The Chaitin Interview V: Chaitin’s Number,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks continued his conversation with mathematician Gregory Chaitin( best known for Chaitin’s unknowable number) on a variety of things mathematical. Last time, they looked at whether the unknowable number is a constant and how one enterprising team has succeeded in calculating at least the first 64 bits. This time, they look at the vexing halting problem in computer science, first identified by computer pioneer Alan Turing in 1936: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-128-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This portion begins at 07:16 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: Well, here’s a question that I have. I know that the Omega or Chaitin’s number is based…

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Has the United States Lost Silicon Valley?

Once on friendly terms with the U,S, Department of Defense, Silicon Valley must consider the views of its friends in China

Recently, we learned that China had, for the first time, surpassed the United States in AI patent filings: The development was revealed by Li Yuxiao, Deputy Head of the Chinese Academy of Cyberspace Studies at the 7th World Internet Conference (WIC), reports SCMP. With this, China is now bolstering its position of being a leader in AI. As per the report, China had filed more than 110,000 artificial intelligence patents last year, more than the patents filed by the United States but the number of patents filed by the country has not been disclosed. “China surpasses US for the first time in artificial intelligence patent filings” at TECHregister (November 27, 2020) Now, people have been claiming that innovative competitiveness is…

Thought Trails

Why Would a Neuroscientist Choose Panpsychism Over Materialism?

It seems to have come down to a choice between “nothing is conscious” and “everything is conscious”

A really significant change in brain science in recent years has been the gradual acceptance in mainstream science venues of sympathy for panpsychism — the position that everything is conscious to some degree. Leading neuroscientist Christof Koch, for example, explained last month in MIT Reader: But who else, besides myself, has experiences? Because you are so similar to me, I abduce that you do. The same logic applies to other people. Apart from the occasional solitary solipsist this is uncontroversial. But how widespread is consciousness in the cosmos at large? How far consciousness extends its dominion within the tree of life becomes more difficult to abduce as species become more alien to us. One line of argument takes the principles…

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How WOULD We Know If an AI Is Conscious?

It might be more complicated than we think. A powerful zombie is still a zombie.

Neuroscientist Joel Frohlich (pictured) asks us to reflect on the “philosophical zombie.” That’s not the zombie of the late nite frites. It’s an entity that behaves outwardly in every respect like you and me but has no inner experience (think Stepford Wives). Philosopher David Chalmers originated the term in 1996, by way of illustrating why consciousness is a Hard Problem. A powerful computer can crunch through many difficult jobs without any inner life or consciousness. But, Frohlich, who is editor in chief of the science communications website Knowing Neurons, asks, what if we weren’t sure? How would we test that? Trying to determine if a powerful AI is conscious means getting past programming that might enable it to generate plausible…

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Why Human Creativity Is Not Computable

There is a paradox involved with computers and human creativity, something like Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems or the Smallest Uninteresting Number

In last week’s podcast, “The Chaitin Interview IV: Knowability and Unknowability,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed mathematician Gregory Chaitin, best known for Chaitin’s Unknowable Number, on a number of things, including whether computers can show creativity. Chaitin has thought a lot about that: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-127-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This portion begins at 21:34 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: We’re talking, just in general, about the unknowable. Roger Penrose recently won a Nobel Prize for his work with Stephen Hawking on black hole theory. He also wrote a book called The Emperor’s New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds and The Laws of Physics (1989) and he followed it up with The Shadows of the Mind:…

Close-up Of A Robot's Hand Holding Stethoscope
Close-up Of A Robot's Hand Holding Stethoscope On Colorful Background`

Doctors Won’t Be Obsolete Anytime Soon

Despite fanfare and positive portrayals in pop culture, artificial intelligence “doctors” are failing to live up to the hype.

A careful analysis of British hospital records found that an annual average of 1,600 adults over the age of 30 had used outpatient child and adolescent psychiatry services and that a comparable number of youths aged 0-19 years old had used outpatient geriatric services. Tongue-firmly-in-cheek, the authors speculated that, “We are not clear why so many adults seem to be availing themselves of pediatric services, but it might be part of an innovative exchange program with pediatric patients attending geriatric services.” They also found that thousands of men used outpatient obstetrics, gynecology, and midwifery services each year, though there were fewer women availing themselves of vasectomies. These were clearly clerical errors made by fallible humans recording patient data. Could computers do…

technician standing in front of giant circuitboard, slight zoom effect

For Computers, Smart Is Not the Same Thing as Fast

In response to a reader’s good question …

In a recent article, I argued that computers are not, and never can become smarter. An insightful reader wrote to ask, “What if smartness is defined by speed?” This is a good point. The debate revolves around the definition of “smart.” and if we define “smart” as “fast”, then since computers are certainly getting faster they will necessarily become smarter. Such a definition has intuitive appeal. Think of the world’s best chess player versus a beginner. One of the big distinctions is the chess expert will choose a good move more quickly than a beginner, and in general will play faster than a beginner. As such, play speed demonstrates a certain level of intelligence on the part of the player.…

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How Stephen Wolfram Revolutionized Math Computing

Wolfram has not made computers creative but he certainly took a lot of the drudgery out of the profession

In last week’s podcast, “The Chaitin Interview III: The Changing Landscape for Mathematics,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed mathematician and computer scientist Gregory Chaitin on many things mathematical, including why math or engineering geniuses (Elon Musk came to mind, of course) can’t just follow the rules. This week, we look at Stephen Wolfram’s new program that checks your hard math. What can — and can’t — it do for mathematicians? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-126-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This portion begins at 13:22 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Gregory Chaitin: Now, there is what I regard as a piece of AI, so it might be interesting to talk about it. My friend Stephen Wolfram (pictured), the system he’s created,…

SpaceX Concept Spacecraft in orbit of the Earth. SpaceX Elon Musk Mars programm 3d render

Why Elon Musk and Other Geniuses Can’t Afford To Follow Rules

Mathematician Gregory Chaitin explains why Elon Musk is, perhaps unexpectedly, his hero

In last week’s podcast, “The Chaitin Interview III: The Changing Landscape for Mathematics,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed mathematician and computer scientist Gregory Chaitin on many things mathematical, including why great books on math, advancing new theorems, aren’t written much any more. This week, we look at why geniuses like Musk (whose proposed Mars Orbiter is our featured image above) simply can’t just follow the rules, for better or worse: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-126-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This portion begins at 7:57 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Gregory Chaitin: Look at Elon Musk (pictured). He’s my great hero. He’s a wonderful engineer and he’s a wonderful entrepreneur and he doesn’t follow the rules. Robert J. Marks: He doesn’t,…

The first model of the computational mechanism is an arithmometer.

Computers Are Getting Faster But Are They Getting Smarter? No.

Computers are Turing machines, limited to operations that can be completely understood in relation to their programming

Won’t quantum computers be smarter than regular ones? No. Still No. What about optical computing, computing with DNA, or some other exotic form of computation? Always No. A skeptical reader might ask, Why such a definitive answer? How do you deal with the spectacular performance of deep learning? What about AlphaGo Zero? What about Watson? What about the infamous Deep Blue? What about quantum supremacy? Don’t these examples all disprove your point? No. All forms of computation past, present, and future will be physical. And all physical phenomena can be modeled by a Turing machine (pictured). No matter how fast the computer runs, the computer will never be more powerful than a Turing machine. A Turing machine consists of five…

Real Php code developing screen. Programing workflow abstract algorithm concept. Lines of Php code visible under magnifying lens.

How did Ray Solomonoff Kickstart Algorithmic Information Theory?

He started off the long pursuit of the shortest effective string of information that describes an object

In last week’s podcast,, “The Chaitin Interview II: Defining Randomness,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed mathematician and computer scientist Gregory Chaitin on how best to describe true randomness but also on what he recalls of Ray Solomonoff (1926–2009), described in his obit as the “Founding Father of algorithmic information theory.” https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-125-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This portion begins at 10:30 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Gregory Chaitin (pictured): Ray Solomonoff was interested in prediction but I was more interested in looking at a given string of bits and asking, does it have structure or not, and the incompleteness results regarding this question. For example, most strings of bits have no structure, according to this definition. They…

Beginning of the game, Two chess teams in front of different color white and black on the chessboard

AI Flags “Black” and “White” Language of Chess as Racist

New research shows the weakness of depending on AI to accurately flag racist online content

Last summer, artificial intelligence algorithms took down a video on YouTube’s most popular chess channel mid-livestream and flagged it as containing “harmful and dangerous” content. New research into the incident indicates that artificial intelligence algorithms programmed to scan for racist and other hateful speech online may be to blame. On June 27, 2020, the host of the most popular chess chanel on YouTube, Antonio Radić, Croatian chess player, was conducting a livestream with chess Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura. Around the one-hour-and-twenty-minute mark of the discussion of chess, the video was cut off and removed from Radić’s channel. When Radić (or anyone else) tried to access the video, they were met with a message from YouTube: “We’ve removed this video because it…

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How 5G Is Shaped By Narrative and Myth

Our perspective powerfully influences how we see things

We all use narratives and sometimes myths to organize our thinking. According to WikiDiff, … the difference between narrative and myth is that narrative is the systematic recitation of an event or series of events while myth is a traditional story which embodies a belief regarding some fact or phenomenon… It is important to be aware and careful of the narratives we use. It is even more important to be reflective of the myths we follow. Myths, with their attendant belief systems, have a greater impact on our perceptions and actions than narratives. The stories we use to frame our understanding of the facts about a topic highlight some areas but blind us to others. We should think about topics…

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Gregory Chaitin on the Great Mathematicians, East and West

Himself a “game-changer” in mathematics, Chaitin muses on what made the great thinkers stand out

In this week’s podcast, “The Chaitin interview I: Chaitin chats with Kurt Gödel,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed mathematician and computer scientist Gregory Chaitin on the almost supernatural awareness that the great mathematicians had of the foundations of reality in the mathematics of our universe: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-124-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This discussion begins at 8:26 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: There are few people who can be credited without any controversy with the founding of a game changing field of mathematics. We are really fortunate today to talk to Gregory Chaitin (pictured) who has that distinction. Professor Chaitin is a co-founder of the Field of Algorithmic Information Theory that explores the properties of…

electric vehicle of the future using smart electric car charging station at home frontal perspective

Apple Is Once Again Eyeing the Smart Car Market

Other firms are jumping in or ramping up and, with the fog from the COVID-19 pandemic clearing, we are looking out at a broader array of new vehicle plans

Early in February, rumor had it that Apple is once again eyeing the smart car market, both electric and self-driving. Improved batteries and new environment regulations might make smart cars a promising new business area. According to USA Today, the “iCar” is certain to be an electric vehicle costing over $40,000. The self-driving part is more of a challenge: But a self-driving car could introduce a “longer timeframe” in part due to Apple CEO Tim Cook’s cautious approach to unveiling new products, Ives said. Automakers and tech companies have yet to solve the thorniest challenges associated with autonomous driving. Nathan Bomey, “Is Apple making an electric, self-driving car? If it does, here are 5 things you could see” at USA…

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Are We Facing the Next, Very Rapid Stage of Evolution, via AI?

Prof. Mark Alan Walker: “Person-engineering technologies will make it possible to accomplish in a matter of years what evolution would take thousands of millennia to achieve.”

These are certainly heady times in the biotech world. With the new mRNA vaccine being created in just a few days in January 2020, someone can mass produce DNA in their garage for the price of a hamburger, and Alpha Fold 2 can predict proteins from DNA with accuracy, rivalling wet lab results, it seems we are on the cusp of something extraordinary. Most viral infections will cease if all we need to do to roll out a new vaccine is sequence the virus genome and mass produce the portion that binds to human cells. On the darker side, it will also likely mean a greater threat of biowarfare. Creating a new virus may just be a matter of downloading…