Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryArtificial Intelligence

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Will Machine Learning Disrupt Academic Rankings?

A case study in the best computer science and artificial intelligence programs

Note: Our author, Ross Gulik, an educational consultant who closely follows the academic ranking industry, offers us a look at how such rankings are created and how they might be improved. 1 Introduction to AcademicInfluence.com AcademicInfluence.com is a new website that claims to do academic rankings right. Getting academic rankings right has become a pressing concern for higher education. As AcademicInfluence.com correctly observes on its methodology page, schools face enormous pressure to perform well in the big annual rankings. The big academic ranking organizations (such as US News and Times Higher Education) carry enormous weight. If a school slips in these annual rankings, it can affect student enrolments, the bottom line, and the prestige of the institution. This pressure leads…

Top view of attractive young woman sleeping well in bed hugging soft white pillow. Teenage girl resting, good night sleep concept. Lady enjoys fresh soft bedding linen and mattress in bedroom

#5 AI hype: AI Could Go Psychotic Due To Lack of Sleep!

Well, that’s what we can hear from Scientific American, if we believe all we read

Our nerds here at the Walter Bradley Center have been discussing the AI hypes of the year. Our director Robert J. Marks, Eric Holloway and Jonathan Bartlett have been talking about 12 overyhyped AI ideas. From AI Dirty Dozen 2020 Part II, here’s #5 AI: can go psychotic due to lack of sleep! https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-114-Jonathan-Bartlett-Eric-Holloway.mp3 Our story begins at 16:03. Here’s a partial transcript. Show Notes and Additional Resources follow, along with a link to the complete transcript. The story started at Scientific American Some types of artificial intelligence could start to hallucinate if they don’t get enough rest, just as humans do… The change will come when (and if) AI systems that mimic living brains are incorporated into the wide…

The concept of biased views judged by appearances. Various miniature people standing behind the glasses.

How Bias Can Be Coded Into Unthinking Programs

MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini started the project as a trivial “bathroom mirror” message

Coded Bias, a new documentary by 7th Empire Media that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020, looks at the ways algorithms and machine learning can perpetuate racism, sexism, and infringements on civil liberties. The film calls for accountability and transparency in artificial intelligence systems, which are algorithms that sift large amounts of data to make predictions, as well as regulations on how these systems can be used and who has access to the data. The documentary follows the path of MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini. Buolamwini took a class on science fiction and technology in which one of her assignments was to create a piece of technology that isn’t necessarily useful but is inspired by science fiction. Buolamwini…

Chat bot concept

#6 A Conversation Bot Is Cool —If You Really Lower Your Standards

A system that supposedly generates conversation—but have you noticed what is says?

Our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been interviewing fellow computer nerds (our Brain Trust) Jonathan Bartlett and Eric Holloway about 12 overhyped AI concepts of the year. From AI Dirty Dozen 2020 Part II. Now here’s #6. A means of generating copy from AI: “GPT-3 Is “Mindblowing” If You Don’t Question It Too Closely So what about the bot that replaces conversation? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-114-Jonathan-Bartlett-Eric-Holloway.mp3 Our story begins at “09:03. Here’s a partial transcript. Show Notes and Additional Resources follow, along with a link to the complete transcript. Robert J. Marks: GPT-3. Those are four alphanumeric letters that rhyme. GPT-3. And, there was a headline that says there’s a subreddit populated entirely by AI personifications of other subreddits. First…

robot working with digital display

Can Robots Be Less Biased Than Their Creators?

We often think of robots as mindless but the minds of their creators are behind them

In some ways, it’s an odd question. Many of us would think of a robot as the opposite of bias. But the reality is that, because everything the robot is and does is a consequence of human actions, a robot could in fact be very biased. How will we know? Some AI developers are attempting to deal with this question: Last summer, hundreds of A.I. and robotics researchers signed statements committing themselves to changing the way their fields work. One statement, from the organization Black in Computing, sounded an alarm that “the technologies we help create to benefit society are also disrupting Black communities through the proliferation of racial profiling.” Another manifesto, “No Justice, No Robots,” commits its signers to…

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King and queen playing cards

Deepfake of Queen’s Christmas Message Highlights Era of Fake News

The concept is actually an old one and we are not helpless against such deceptions

Elizabeth II is among the longest-serving constitutional monarchs in history (1953–). Britain’s edgy Channel 4 tested the waters with a deepfake Christmas address: In Commonwealth countries like Canada, it is a longstanding custom to listen to Elizabeth’s Christmas Address. So how did the fake fare?: If you have bad eyesight and limited hearing, you might, might, be fooled by the fake Queen on a busy Christmas day. But by the time she starts talking about Netflix and launches into a dance routine, you’d surely know something’s up. Channel 4 makes little effort to hide its deception, but that hasn’t stopped some critics from expressing discomfort with the stunt. Rhett Jones, “First Deepfake Address from the Queen of England Makes Its…

The face of a child robot.

Sci-Fi Saturday: Can Parents Get Back a Dead Child as an Android?

They aren’t even united in their grief; they just think they must “do something” to get back a facsimile of what they remember.

Are you in lockdown at home? Hey, here’s another one we found, in our weekly foray into free short sci-fi. This is from SkillLab Creative Studio: “Article 19-42” (14:29 min) A French couple (subtitles in English) drive to an old barn in northern woods, on a seemingly curious mission—to resurrect a dead child as an android: One wouldn’t offer a spoiler, such as above, except that the film goes on way too long without making that part clear. The ambience—one suspects that the lab is illegal—is wonderful. The central characters are pitch perfect: parents of an only child, united by and obsessed with her death. They aren’t even entirely united in their grief; they both want to get back at…

Female doctor consoling senior woman wearing face mask during home visit

#8 in our AI Hype Countdown: AI Is Better Than Doctors!

Sick of paying for health care insurance? Guess what? AI is better ! Or maybe, wait…

Merry Christmas! Our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been interviewing fellow computer nerds (our Brain Trust) Jonathan Bartlett and Eric Holloway about 12 overhyped AI concepts of the year. From AI Dirty Dozen 2020 Part II. Now here’s #8. Sick of paying for health care insurance? Guess what? AI is better! Or maybe, wait… https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-114-Jonathan-Bartlett-Eric-Holloway.mp3 “Is AI really better than physicians at diagnosis?” starts at 01:25 Here’s a partial transcript. Show Notes and Additional Resources follow, along with a link to the complete transcript. Robert J. Marks: We’re told AI is going to replace lawyers and doctors and accountants and all sorts of people. So, let’s look at a case of the physicians. This was a piece…

Robo Women 3

Erica, Robot Film Star, is Pretty Typical Modern-Day Puppeteering

It may be a good film, to be sure, Jonathan Bartlett stresses, but there is little new AI in there

Yesterday, we looked at Erica the Robot, our #9 technology hype of 2020. While Erica, described as the star of a film, b, to start production in 2021, may be more sophisticated than some, clever animatronics have actually been around for decades (think Muppets… ). So Robert J. Marks and Eric Holloway talked about the question of how much of the Erica puff signifies something really groundbreaking and how much is the usual AI hype. Jonathan Bartlett (pictured) gets back to us with some further thoughts on that very question: The hype around Erica starts with the simple description of her role in the film. Many articles about the film say that Erica was “cast” in the role. However, being…

Digital binary code matrix background in graphic concept

Smith and Cordes’ Phantom Pattern Problem A Top 2020 Book

Published by Oxford in 2020, it deals with the “patterns” Big Data throws up that aren’t really there

David Auerbach has picked The Phantom Pattern Problem (2020) by Gary Smith and Jay Cordes as one of the top books of 2020 in the science and tech category. Auerbach, who describes himself as “a writer and software engineer, trying to bridge the two realms,” is the author of BITWISE: A Life in Code (2018). He has an interesting way of choosing books to recommend: Those that resist the “increasingly desperate and defensive oversimplification” of popular culture: I hesitate to mention too many other books for fear of neglecting the others, but I will say that of the science and technology books, several deal with subjects that are currently inundated with popularizations. In my eye, those below are notably superior…

Many Robo Women 7

#9: Erica the Robot Stars in a Film. But Really, Does She?

This is just going to be a fancier Muppets movie, Eric Holloway predicts, with a bit more electronics

Our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been interviewing fellow computer nerds (our Brain Trust) Jonathan Bartlett and Eric Holloway about 12 overhyped AI concepts of the year. Lots of stuff happened and it’s the time of year for fun and entertainment! So here’s #9: Erica the Robot, from Japan, is to star in a film (filming begins in 2021): https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-113-Eric-Holloway-Jonathan-Bartlett.mp3 #9 starts at about 16:58 A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. A link to the complete transcript follows the Additional Resources. Robert J. Marks: Okay. We are counting down the Dirty Dozen hyped AI stories of 2020, and we’re at #9. In June 2020 in The Hollywood Reporter, we learned of the robot in…

Artificial intelligence and future technologies. Mixed media

#10: Big AI Claims Fail To Work Outside Lab

A recent article in Scientific American makes clear that grand claims are often not followed up with great achievements

As the year winds down, our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviews fellow computer nerds (our Brain Trust) Jonathan Bartlett and Eric Holloway about 12 overhyped AI concepts of the past year. Hey, as we like to say, great stuff happened in AI this year. But well, lots of “stuff” happened too and it’s time to have some fun! So here’s #10: Replication problems tarnish the image of rapid AI progress: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-113-Eric-Holloway-Jonathan-Bartlett.mp3 #10 starts at about 12:44 A partial transcript and Show Notes follow, along with Additional Resources and the entire transcript. Robert J. Marks: # 10, Will artificial intelligence ever live up to its hype? The subtitle to the article with that name in this month’s Scientific…

Data technology background. Big data visualization. Flow of data. Information code. Background in a matrix style. 4k rendering.

Torturing Data Can Destroy a Career: The Case of Brian Wansink

Wansink wasn’t alone. A surprising number of studies published in highly respected peer-reviewed journals are complete nonsense and could not be replicated with fresh data

Until a few years ago, Brian Wansink (pictured in 2007) was a Professor of Marketing at Cornell and the Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. He authored (or co-authored) more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and wrote two popular books, Mindless Eating and Slim by Design, which have been translated into more than 25 languages. In one of his most famous studies, 54 volunteers were served tomato soup. Half were served from normal bowls and half from “bottomless bowls” which had hidden tubes that imperceptibly refilled the bowls. Those with the bottomless bowls ate, on average, 73 percent more soup but they did not report feeling any fuller than the people who ate from normal bowls. Eating is evidently…

Inner Life of Super Human

A Silicon Valley Psychologist Doesn’t Believe in Consciousness

Duncan Riach thinks that, with increasing complexity, computers will appear to be conscious too but it’s a misunderstanding for both humans and computers

Duncan Riach, who believes that computers can become selves, doesn’t believe in consciousness. As he explains, I’ve lost friends over this because a denial of consciousness undermines a final refuge of the arrogance of selfhood: universal consciousness. But even most normal people are strongly insistent that consciousness is a real thing, a special thing, and that they possess it. The problem I have is that there’s not only no evidence for it, but what people seem to be referring to as consciousness is explainable as an effect no more unusual, no less materialistically explainable, than water flowing downhill… Rather than jumping to the conclusion that this body has a soul and/or that somehow this “I am,” this feeling of something…

Retro old beige fridge in loft style wooden kitchen

#11: A Lot of AI Is As Transparent As Your Fridge

A great deal of high tech today is owned by corporations

As the year draws to a close, our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviews fellow computer nerds, members of our Brain Trust, Jonathan Bartlett and Eric Holloway on their picks for over hyped AI of the year. Hey, great stuff happened in AI this year. But well, lots of “stuff” happened too. And it’s time to have some fun! So here’s #11! Corporate types insist that they believe in transparency. But a lot of AI is as transparent as your fridge. Our team has the story: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-113-Eric-Holloway-Jonathan-Bartlett.mp3 #11 starts at about 9:08 A partial transcript and Show Notes follow. A recent article in top science journal Nature pointed out that AI developments that matter today are often not…

Multi-ethnic group of people standing in row and wearing masks at polling station on election day

How Electoral Fraud Is Different From Financial Fraud

Money can be moved around safely but votes must be credited to a single intended destination

(Recently, we’ve been asking readers to think about Alice and Bob, the famous pair in physics used to demonstrate propositions in a variety of contexts but, just for now, let’s look at how Alice’s vote might be stolen, as opposed to funds from her account being stolen. What would help prevent that? This is Bernard Fickser’s view:) The role of the voter in the electoral context has no parallel in the financial context. As a result, a significant difference exists in the roles of financial Alice and Bob versus electoral Alice and Bob. In the financial context, Alice, Bob and others like them (Carol, David, Earnest, etc.) are financial agents that consciously move money, or capital, among themselves. In the…

I caught a huge fish

#12! AI Is Going To Solve All Our Problems Soon!

In our countdown for the Top Twelve AI Hypes of 2020

First, before we get started: The AI industry has been making real progress. But with real progress comes real hype. That figures. We spent all year covering the real progress. Now that we are all kicking up our feet, we are going to send up some of the hype. We used to only have 10 top hypes but now we have 12. If progress continues at this pace, we might end up with 59 by 2050… Anyway, our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed fellow computer nerds, members of our Brain Trust, Jonathan Bartlett and Eric Holloway on their picks last Saturday. And here’s #12! The article itself is actually an admission rather than a hype but let’s…

Mosquito stuck in honey

Hi Tech and China: The Long Game re Spying in the United States

The relationship between California’s Eric Swalwell and Fang Fang could be a thriller. But they say it really happened

An investigative report from news site Axios reveals that Christine Fang (better known as Fang Fang), a fundraiser for Representative Eric Swalwell (D.–California), not only interacted with political elites in California but cultivated relationships with two Midwestern governors. She is also accused of being a spy for China from 2011 to 2015. This story adds to the growing evidence that China is playing the long-game of influencing American politics: Start with promising figures at the bottom, not at the top: The case demonstrates China’s strategy of cultivating relationships that may take years or even decades to bear fruit. The Chinese Communist Party knows that today’s mayors and city council members are tomorrow’s governors and members of Congress.” Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian and…

Chess Pieces on Board for Game and Strategy

The World’s First Quantum Chess Tournament Announces a Winner

Quantum chess allows for superposition, entanglement, and interference

Perimeter Institute’s Aleksander Kubica won: So what’s quantum chess? It’s a complicated version of regular chess that incorporates the quantum concepts of superposition, entanglement, and interference. “It’s like you’re playing in a multiverse but the different boards [in different universes] are connected to each other,” said Caltech physicist Spiros Michalakis during a livestream of the tournament. “It makes 3D chess from Star Trek look silly.” Jennifer Ouellette, “We have a winner in the world’s first quantum chess tournament” at Ars Technica Okay: Superposition: Elementary particles of our universe are not in one single specific place, they are only in a probable one. Entanglement: What happens to one elementary particle affects any other particle entangled with it, no matter how far…

Bottom view close-up of four white surveillance cameras

How Toxic Bias Infiltrates Computer Code

A look at the dark underbelly of modern algorithms

The newly released documentary Coded Bias from Shalini Kantayya takes the viewer on a tour of the way modern algorithms can undermine justice and society and are actively subverting justice at the present moment. Coded Bias highlights many under-discussed issues regarding data and its usage by governments and corporations. While its prescriptions for government usage of data are well considered, the issue of corporate use of data involves many additional issues that the film skirts entirely. As the film points out, we are presented these algorithms as if they were a form of intelligence. But they are actually just math—and this math can be used to, intentionally or unintentionally, encode biases. In fact, as Bradley Center fellows Robert J. Marks…