Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryArtificial Intelligence

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retro robot orator, speaker, 3d, render

Can a New AI Debating Program Win All the Debates?

While billed as an autonomous debating system, Project Debater features very little autonomy

From ancient days, reason has been considered the hallmark of what sets humans apart from animals. Aristotle defined humans as the rational animal and this definition has stuck through the history of Western philosophy. Human reason is best demonstrated in debate. Thus, if we can create programs that argue a point effectively, then computers will have conquered an important frontier of what it means to be intelligent. Recently, we learned at Nature that one research team claims to have developed such a program: A fully autonomous computer system has been developed that can take part in live debates with people. The findings hint at a future in which artificial intelligence can help humans to formulate and make sense of complex…

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Robot vs man. Human humanoid robot work with laptops at desk.

Will Humans Ever Be Fully Replaceable by AI? Part 3

Data outlines what can be quantified but does not show the comparison between AI and human performance at the most important points

To get the right answer to the question of whether artificial intelligence will ever become capable of replacing man we must get the ontology, epistemology, and metrology right. Ontology seeks to understand the essential nature of things and the relationships between different things. Epistemology looks at what we can know and how accurately we can know what is knowable. Finally, metrology explores how we make measurements and comparisons. To get the right answer we must measure the right things (ontology), select what we will measure (epistemology), and determine how we make our measurements and comparisons with accuracy, precision, and repeatability (metrology). Mistakes in any of these areas will lead to a bad outcome. A common mistake is to measure what…

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3D rendering of a bunch of laughing emojis surrounding one angry

“Sentiment Analysis”? Why Not Just ASK People What They Think?

My computer science professor always told me,”Never solve a problem you can eliminate.”

AI researchers are trying to develop algorithms that pick up on cues within a written text that reveal the writer’s emotional state (sentiment analysis). Recently, Mind Matters News reported on a new algorithm for processing sarcasm in social media posts — a good example of trying to infer sentiment from text. My computer science professor always told me,”Never solve a problem you can eliminate.” It seems to me that a lot of machine sentiment analysis can be bypassed by simply asking the users to report their feelings when writing the posts. That may seem obvious but, these days, obvious answers are in short supply. Many people insist on finding the most complicated way to solve problems. Asking a user for…

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woman doing thumbs up positive gesture in shock face, looking skeptical and sarcastic, surprised with open mouth

Can the Machine Know You Are Just Being Sarcastic?

Researchers claim to have come up with an artificial intelligence program that can detect sarcasm on social media platforms

There’s an old joke about the bored engineering student slouched in the back of the Remedial English Grammar and Composition class. The instructor was lecturing on the use of negatives. In some languages, she explained, negatives can be piled on top of one another without changing the overall negative (“no”) meaning. But in English, adding two negatives together creates a positive. For example: “I am never going there again.” means just what it says (“never”). but “I am not ‘never going there again’” means that maybe you are going there again (“yes, if some changes are made”). The first negative negates the second. The teacher went on to say, “But there is no language in the world in which two…

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model biological micro organism paramecium caudatum 3d illustration

Scientists Try To Understand How One-Celled Life Forms Learn

Artificial intelligence may offer a model for learning without a brain

According to a recent article in The Scientist, in the mid-twentieth century, several labs produced results that suggested that one-celled organisms could learn, in the sense that they could alter future behavior based on past experience. At the time, such findings were dismissed as flukes or mistakes because it was unclear how a unicellular life form like paramecium, with no brain or nervous system, could store memories. Today, a team from Harvard, Rutgers, and MIT is taking a second look at the findings of learning in paramecium: We exhume the experiments of Beatrice Gelber on Pavlovian conditioning in the ciliate Paramecium aurelia, and suggest that criticisms of her findings can now be reinterpreted. Gelber was a remarkable scientist whose absence…

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Education and maths concept

Will AI Change — or Eliminate — the Mind-Body Problem?

Can an artificial intelligence program that calculates really understand mathematics? Or is that a “hard ceiling” for AI?

In last week’s podcast, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed Concordia University philosopher Angus Menuge on the difficult mind–body problem: Dr. Menuge sees mind–body interaction as a transmission of information between two realms; our minds and bodies are one integrated system with a translation function… like developing and then writing down an idea. But what about artificial intelligence? We are told that artificial general intelligence (AGI) is now pushing towards a machine that can totally duplicate the functions of the human mind. But what if the mind is not simply a mechanical function of the brain? What if it is non-algorithmic and non-computable? This portion begins at 29:04 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow.…

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Disabled student in class room.

Paralyzed Man Writes, Using Only Imagination — and an Algorithm

With implanted electrodes, the volunteer, 65, achieved 90 characters per minute

The science media has been abuzz these last few days with news of man paralyzed from the neck down who was able to type using only his thoughts — communicating via a brain implant: A 65-year-old man had two grids of tiny electrodes implanted on the surface of his brain. The electrodes read electrical activity in the part of the brain that controls hand and finger movements. Although the man was paralyzed from the neck down, he imagined writing letters softly with his hand. With an algorithm, researchers then figured out the neural patterns that went with each imagined letter and transformed those patterns into text on a screen. Anushree Dave, “Brain implants turn imagined handwriting into text on a…

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conceptual image Chinese stock exchange with digital currency, devaluation of bitcoin or growth of Chinese e-rmb

Will China’s Digital Yuan Displace the US Dollar in Global Trade?

The U.S. dollar became the world’s reserve currency because it was stable and easily transferable. It also enabled the U.S. to penalize sponsors of terrorism and genocide

China has just launched its Digital Currency Electronic Payment System, called variously the electronic yuan or electronic renminbi (abbreviated e-CNY or e-RMB). It will likely thwart Alipay and WeChat Pay’s dominance in China’s financial tech market and allow the government to track almost all financial transactions in real time. There are, of course, international implications to China being the first country to roll out a digital currency backed by the central bank. Can the Digital Yuan Compete with the Dollar for Global Dominance? Some analysts now see China’s move to a digital currency based on blockchain technology as intended to displace the dollar. Right now, eighty-eight percent of global trade interactions are in U.S. dollars, followed by the euro, and…

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Drones fly over the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. A natural landscape with drones flying over it. quadrocopter

Marks: We Can’t Do Without Autonomous Killer Robots in Combat

As an expert in swarm intelligence, he thinks drone swarms offer specific advantages

Over a year ago, Robert J. Marks argued in The Case for Killer Robots for developing autonomous military weapons. As an expert in swarm intelligence, he thinks drone swarms should be given priority: Two battling drone swarms can have numerous agents who, in order to be effective in combat, individually require reaction times in the milliseconds. Humans cannot react quickly enough for one, let alone hundreds, of interacting swarm agents. Autonomous operation can be appropriate. Marks asks us to picture two gunslingers in the Old West, facing each other on Main Street. The faster draw wins. The second fastest draw is usually dead. Military strategists call the response to a threat the OODA loop: observe–orient–decide–act. Swarm conflict, in Marks’s view,…

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Researchers Make a Trillion Aluminum Atoms Behave as Single Wave

Such demonstrations show that quantum computers, which could solve much bigger problems much faster, are viable

Just recently, researchers managed to “entangle” two very tiny aluminum drums as if they were merely quantum particles — a first that helps pave the way for quantum computing. But it’s an unsettling first because the world above the level of the electron (macroscopic world) is supposed to behave according to Newton’s classical physics rules, not weird quantum rules under which two entangled particles sync no matter how far apart they are (non-locality). Like conductors of a spooky symphony, researchers have ‘entangled’ two small mechanical drums and precisely measured their linked quantum properties. Entangled pairs like this might someday perform computations and transmit data in large-scale quantum networks. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), “Quantum drum duet measured” at…

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Frozen British traditional post office mailbox

Who Will Your Boss Believe? You or That Glitzy New Computer?

In the largest miscarriage of justice in decades, the British Post Office chose to believe the computer, resulting in bankruptcies, jail, and suicide. At last the truth emerged…

Texas State professor of electrical engineering Karl Stephan (pictured) has the story, reprinted with permission from his blog Engineering Ethics. Dr. Stephan is the author of Ethical and Otherwise: Engineering in the Headlines, a collection of his writings on ethics and technology: Suppose you enjoy a secure government job at which you work diligently, and you have advanced to the managerial position of a sub-postmaster in Post Office Ltd, the quasi-public organisation that provides postal services in most of the UK.  Then your organisation installs a new computerised system called Horizon that promises to eliminate a lot of paperwork accounting and make things easier for everybody.  But soon after it is installed, you find that your accounts are not matching up with…

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A man likes a big paper box in the apartment. A emotional man fondle a big package in the empty room.

Sci-fi Saturday: Why You Do NOT Want To Duplicate Yourself

“The Unboxing Video” offers philosophy as well as dark comedy around the question of what being “oneself” means

“The Unboxing Video” (2019) at DUST by Scott Pickett (April 27, 2021, 12:07 min, film info here. Language warning.) Unboxing? “Unboxing is the act of documenting oneself, mostly on video, of opening a packaged product from a box and displaying, reviewing, and showing off its contents.” – Dictionary.com “One man attempts to make the greatest unboxing video in the world. Not an easy task as at every twist and turn he unknowingly reveals more about himself than anything else.” Review: James, a lonely man, decides to replicate himself via a body scan, a DNA swab, and a brain upload. He invites us to watch as he unpacks his boxed replicant, James 1.0. But when James turns the replicant on, he…

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Deepfake concept matching facial movements with a different face of another person. Face swapping or impersonation.

Sci-fi Could Come To Life If You Fall For a Deepfake Friend

The friend you knew only online is a starkly believable software synthesis? A Carnegie Mellon prof says it could happen today

That’s the looming scenario astrophysicist and social scientist Simon DeDeo (pictured) sketched for journalist Kelly Catalfamo because the required technology — GPT-3, facial GANs, and voice synthesizers –- exists now. Catalfamo asks, Now imagine how you’d feel if you found out your friend didn’t really exist. Their profile turns out to be a Frankensteinian mashup of verbiage dreamed up by the powerful language generator GPT-3 and a face born from a generative adversarial network, perhaps with a deepfaked video clip thrown in here and there. How would it affect you to learn that you had become emotionally attached to an algorithm? And what if that “person” was designed to manipulate you, influencing your personal, financial, or political decisions like a…

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Artificial intelligence concept. Robotic hand is holding human brain. 3D rendered illustration.

Failed Prophecies of the Big “AI Takeover” Come at a Cost

Like IBM Watson in medicine, they don’t just fail; they take time, money, and energy from more promising digital innovations

Surveying the time line of prophecies that AI will take over “soon” is entertaining. At Slate, business studies profs Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith offer a whirlwind tour starting in the 1950s, with stops along the way at 1970 (“In from three to eight years we will have a machine with the general intelligence of an average human being”) and at 2014: In 2014, Ray Kurzweil predicted that by 2029, computers will have human-level intelligence and will have all of the intellectual and emotional capabilities of humans, including “the ability to tell a joke, to be funny, to be romantic, to be loving, to be sexy.” As we move closer to 2029, Kurzweil talks more about 2045. Jeffrey Funk and…

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Digital eye. Green matrix background. Concept of Artificial Intelligence

Researcher: Fear of AI Caused by Four Common Misconceptions

AI isn't panning out the way so many popular media articles predicted and there are reasons for that, a computer science prof says

As part of the Demystifying AI series, software engineer Ben Dickson, founder of TechTalks, tackles some of the most serious misunderstandings he thinks the public has about AI. For example, while AI can win in board games, where the map is the territory, “some of the early goals of AI like housekeeper robots and self-driving cars continue to recede as we approach them.” So why isn’t AI panning out the way so many popular media articles predicted? Dickson points to a recent article at ArXiv by professor Melanie Mitchell of the Santa Fe Institute, author of Artificial Intelligence: A Guide For Thinking Humans (2019): The year 2020 was supposed to herald the arrival of self-driving cars. Five years earlier, a…

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Concept of rivalry between robots and humans

Will Humans Ever Be Fully Replaceable by AI? Part 2

Particles and energy can be translated into each other. Might man also be a type of duality, with a natural and a spiritual reality?

In Part 1, we looked at the many dimensions to our thinking. Now, we ask, What then is man? Is man simply a complex biological machine that is fully explained by analyzing it in the four dimensions of space and time? Is the brain just a biological computer fully contained in four dimensions? Most of the world’s religions hold that man exists beyond the mere physical. Man has a soul, a spirit; these exist outside of the physical universe. There are characteristics, attributes, and values that are very real and have great impact, but which defy direct observation or quantification. String theory, an active research area in modern physics, requires 10 or 11 dimensions to fully explain what we see…

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Futuristic and sci-fi human android portrait with pcb metallic skin and binary code green background. AI, IT, technology, robotics, science, transhumanism 3D rendering illustration concepts.

Sci-fi Saturday: The Artist’s Android Has a Surprise for Him…

He makes the fateful decision to allow her to depart from her programming during a crisis

“Muse” (2020) by Azhur Saleem and (April 13, 2021 at DUST, 12:33 min) “An artist turns to his android muse for help when trying to sell his newest paintings, but events take a dark and disturbing turn when the android learns what has inspired the work.” An artist welcomes in an art gallery owner to view his latest offerings, his in-house android at his beck and call. When the meeting turns sour and the guest tries to leave, Alderman calls on Kay and… So begins the next day. When police officers come knocking regarding an altercation outside, it transpires that Alderman has amended Kay’s CPU to respond to un-programmed demands – including murder to which she complies and the police…

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Neural networks of the human brain. 3d illustration of abstract nerve centers. Electrical impulses in brain. Bright full color

Young Filmmaker Tackles the Hype About Computing the Brain

In Silico, in which Noah Hutton sorts hope from hype, goes livestream today

Twelve years ago Noah Hutton (pictured), who had some background in neuroscience, heard prominent neuroscientist Henry Markram tell viewers in a TED talk that he had determined how to simulate a complete human brain, via supercomputers, within a decade. At the time, Hutton didn’t question that and he started to document the Blue Brain project that Markham directed, which started with a mouse brain. But then things stalled: As Hutton recounted in Scientific American yesterday, “there were magnificent fly-through visualizations of the first square millimeter of simulated rat brain set to The Blue Danube available in a visitor’s screening room, but a definite lack of progress along the road map towards a human brain.” There was, however, the recognition that…

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set of Detective of Holmes times

Abduction: A Thinking Skill You Can Do But Computers Can’t

A Norwegian police detective fills us in on how to use abduction for better thinking

Ivar Fahsing, detective chief superintendent at the Norwegian Police University College, has “worked on some of the worst crimes in Norway for 30 years.” He had to hone his thinking skills but, he says, many of us have never learned to “make safe judgments under pressure.” He is also convinced that any of us can improve our skills and he offers some help from his experience investigating crimes. One skill he focuses on is abduction, which was Sherlock Holmes’s favorite method. Yes, Holmes always tells his sidekick and foil, Dr. Watson, that he uses deduction — but he doesn’t: In the Sherlock Holmes novels, our titular hero continuously assails Dr Watson, a man of science, about the merits of deductive…

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Woman passenger sitting in the backseat and  selects a route when her self-driving car rides on the highway.

Tesla Continues to Walk Back Full Self-Driving Claims

In 2016, Tesla (TSLA) couldn’t tell enough people that its cars would soon drive themselves

In 2019, Tesla raised billions of dollars on the prospect of a fleet of a million robotaxis by the next year. However, starting on the Q3 2019 earnings call, CEO Elon Musk started walking back some of those claims. To begin with, in that earnings call, Musk started saying that “feature complete” really just meant that the “City Streets” version would be operable, not that it could actually drive without assistance. A year later, in regulatory filings with the California DMV, Tesla said, “As such, a final release of City Streets will continue to be an SAE Level 2, advanced driver-assistance feature.” In the accepted terminology around levels of self-driving, truly self-driving vehicles are classed as SAE Level 5. Level…