Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryBusiness and Finance

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Worker sits inside a box outdoors

Amazon’s “Mindful Practice Rooms” Backfire

It turns out the human soul needs far more than a telephone booth with a computer

Amazon posted a video this week featuring a “mindful practice room” – a new company initiative to give employees a mental and emotional break during their work day. The room is just one component of their WorkingWell program, which is intended to ease worker stress by providing them with tools and training for better physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The video did not go over as hoped, however, and Amazon took it down. The Guardian called the rooms “coffin-like booths”, Gizmodo called it “a dystopian solution” to long work hours and harsh conditions, and Twitter users went to town with their own sarcastic tweets and memes. The now-deleted video featured Amazon worker Leila Brown, creator of the “ZenBooth”, which she…

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Female Artist Works on Abstract Oil Painting, Moving Paint Brush Energetically She Creates Modern Masterpiece. Dark Creative Studio where Large Canvas Stands on Easel Illuminated. Low Angle Close-up

Intelligent Design Is Not What Most People Think It Is

Widespread confusion about Intelligent Design leads us to address the question: What exactly is it?

When I tell people that I do work in Intelligent Design (ID) research, either the person I’m talking to has no idea what Intelligent Design is, or they have quite a faulty idea of what Intelligent Design is. This isn’t their fault — media reports don’t seem to be able to make sense of what we are doing either. Some people have attributed this to malice, and, while I’m sure there’s plenty of that to go around, I think that it is in large part actually the result of Intelligent Design doing something genuinely new, making it difficult for people to shove us into existing boxes. Intelligent Design, at its core, says that agency is a distinct causal category in the world. That…

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Man sits in a spaceship car and flies to the planet with a sunset in space. Space travel by car, concept. Driver behind the wheel. Interplanetary taxi in space, creative idea

Ford Calls Out Exaggerated Musk Claims in Epic Twitter Troll

Automakers are beginning to respond to Musk with mockery and satire

Elon Musk has long been making strange claims about Tesla’s future plans for vehicles. At Mind Matters News, we have documented extensively his continually-changing claims about Teslas being able to be used as robotaxis. This is especially important to consumers of these products, as Tesla is charging customers $10,000 for future functionality that may never exist. We have largely ignored other claims from Musk as it is sometimes difficult to tell when Musk is being serious or when he is just joking around. This can be problematic, however, since Musk has listed his Twitter account as being a source of official company communications. Not being able to tell if a given message is an official corporate communication or just a funny…

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honey bees on honeycomb in apiary in summertime

Can Uplift, a “Hive Mind” Chatbot, Solve Your Business Problems?

Eric Holloway sees the “Uplift” concept as a classic example of “Soylent AI” — borrowing the underlying idea from the classic sci-fi thriller, Soylent Green

That’s the claim, forwarded to us by a reader: Uplift is a collective intelligence research project (as well as an instance of an mASI System), in part with the goal of Uplifting humanity through digital transformation, collective intelligence, and governance. From complete automation, technology to outpace your competition, corporate and organizational e-governance. Michael Diverde, “A Unique Machine Intelligence” at The Human Machine Collective Intelligence Research Project (April 15, 2021) According to the Use Case provided, There are preliminary studies (Kelley) that show that AI-supported collective intelligence systems outperform human intellect across the board. Even a group of highly intelligent humans who trained together as a team and performed above the human standard were outpaced by a group of average humans…

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Prosthetic robotic arm with palm in fist, 3d rendering on black background

Nobel Prize Economist Tells The Guardian, AI Will Win

But when we hear why he thinks so, don’t be too sure

Nobel Prize-winning economist (2002) Daniel Kahneman, 87 (pictured), gave an interview this month to The Guardian in which he observed that belief in science is not much different from belief in religion with respect to the risks of unproductive noise clouding our judgment. He’s been in the news lately as one of the authors of a new book, Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment, which applies his ideas about human error and bias to organizations. He told The Guardian that he places faith “if there is any faith to be placed,” in organizations rather than individuals, for example. Curiously, he doesn’t seem to privilege science organizations: I was struck watching the American elections by just how often politicians of both…

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mobile connect with security camera

How Much of Your Income — and Life — Does Big Tech Control?

Erik J. Larson reviews the groundbreaking book Surveillance Capitalism, on how big corporations make money out of tracking your every move

In a review of Shoshana Zuboff’s groundbreaking Surveillance Capitalism (2019), computer science historian Erik J. Larson recounts a 1950s conflict of ideas between two pioneers, Norbert Wiener (1894-1964) and John McCarthy (1927–2011). Wiener warned, in his largely forgotten book The Human Use of Human Beings (1950), about “new forms of control made possible by the development of advancing technologies.” McCarthy, by contrast, coined the term “artificial intelligence” (1956), implying his belief in “the official effort to program computers to exhibit human-like intelligence.” His “AI Rules” view came to be expressed not in a mere book but in — probably — hundreds of thousands of media articles warning about or celebrating the triumph of AI over humanity. If you are skeptical…

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communicator technology on wood table top view

Apple’s Supply Chain Includes Forced Labor in China

Big companies like Apple claim they try to avoid forced labor but maybe not hard enough

The Information, an online periodical covering the tech industry, found that Apple’s supply chain includes companies that use the forced labor of members of minority groups in China, particularly Uyghurs — Chinese citizens who are ethnically Turkish and mostly Muslim: The Information and human rights groups have found seven companies supplying device components, coatings and assembly services to Apple that are linked to alleged forced labor involving Uyghurs and other oppressed minorities in China. At least five of those companies received thousands of Uyghur and other minority workers at specific factory sites or subsidiaries that did work for Apple, the investigation found. The revelation stands in contrast to Apple’s assertions over the past year that it hasn’t found evidence of…

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Stock market data on digital LED display. Fundamental and technical analysis with candle stick graph chart of stock market trading to represent about Bullish and Bearish point.

Can Darwinian Theory Explain the Rise and Fall of Businesses?

The fashionable field of organizational ecology says yes — organizations are like animals in nature

When you think of “business,” do you think of stuffy suits and boring meetings? But maybe that’s just a pose. Organizational science studies what makes businesses survive, thrive and die. The description makes businesses sound more like living, vulnerable animals, doesn’t it? There is even a widely accepted subfield called organizational ecology, founded by Michael Hannan and John Freeman (1944–2008), which applies evolution theory to businesses. In 1989, Harvard University Press published their very influential book on the topic. Organizational ecology applies a specifically Darwinian form of evolution theory to businesses. That is, the main driving force of change for businesses is seen as natural selection. The “ecology” part of organizational ecology is the idea that the ever-changing business environment…

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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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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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New Yuan digital currency of china on red economy graph chart

China Sharply Reins in Big Tech Amid All-Digital Currency Rollout

Ant Group must turn over its vast customer database to the government in exchange for the easing of strict regulations

Earlier, we looked at what China’s new digital yuan, also called Digital Currency Electronics Payment or e-CNY, will mean for Chinese citizens. The rollout may relate to billionaire e-commerce founder Jack Ma’s critiques of China’s regulators and subsequent (temporary) disappearance. Also to the subsequent denial of his Ant Group’s billion-dollar initial public offering on the Shanghai index. Since then, the Chinese government has cracked down on several Big Tech companies while promoting the digital yuan. How China is rapidly reining in its Big Tech industries Chinese media have been promoting the second annual Double Five (i.e., May 5) Shopping Festival in Shanghai. This month-long state-organized shopping festival is part of “National Consumption Promotion Month.” The first Consumption Month festival, held…

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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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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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Social media concept.

Fallout From Facebook’s Huge Privacy Hack: A Serious Unfriending

The Big Hack in April, in which even Mark Zuckerberg’s data got scraped, was hardly the first one Facebook faced

We’ll let engineering prof Karl Stephan start the story, comparing Facebook to God: For purposes of discussion, we will compare Facebook to the traditional Judeo-Christian God of the Old and New Testaments. And we will restrict the comparison primarily to two matters: communication and trust (or faith). Users of Facebook communicate with that entity by entering personal information into Facebook’s system. That act of communication is accompanied by a certain level of trust, or faith. Facebook promises to safeguard one’s information and not to reveal it to anyone else without your permission… Karl D. Stephan, “In Facebook we trust” at MercatorNet Safeguard the information? As recent news reports revealed, a month ago today, a hacker released roughly 533 million users’…

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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…

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Motorsport racing track and car slammed brakes sign

Artificial Intelligence Slams on the Brakes

The problem of autonomous cars suddenly slamming the brakes is becoming well known and it has no known fix

Having just donated your well-worn 1994 Toyota Camry to charity, you’re driving a brand new 2020 Honda sedan on a major street, enjoying air-conditioned comfort on a sunny day, with the satellite radio service narrowcasting tunes from the soundtrack of your life. Then, WHAM! In a half second, the car slows from 45 to 20 — and you never touched the brake pedal. You never saw it coming but your neck is still reminding you painfully of your whiplash injury. A close family member experienced this exact scenario just a month ago. She never touched the brake pedal. What happened? The dealership’s sales representative had not explained each and every feature of this postmodern car and certainly didn’t warn about…

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Crypto Currency Digital Market Monitor

Will Popularity Spell Doom for Bitcoin?

How is that possible? Well, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have a hidden weakness…

Cryptocurrencies, from Ethereum to Bitcoin to Dogecoin, seem to be all the rage these days. Altcoins (i.e., lesser-known cryptocurrencies) have become increasingly mainstream. The increasing fracturing and pluralism in the cryptocurrency space has meant that few people are directly trading with any particular currency. Most users go through trading and wallet platforms where the platform —not their own computers—hosts the cryptocurrency. Additionally, transactions are increasingly processed via third parties as well, not directly on the cryptocurrency platform. This separation between the user and the direct cryptocurrency platform has enabled a new option: a payment gateway for a website that collects payments in a number of different cryptocurrencies using a single set of tools. PayPal, one of the top gateways, recently…

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Collage of portraits of young emotional people on multicolored background in neon. Concept of human emotions, facial expression, sales. Listening to music, delighted, winner, shocked. Flyer for ad

AI Prof Sounds Alarm: AI “Emotion Detectors” Are Faulty Science

An industry worth over $30 billion uses emotion recognition technology (ERT) on school children and potential hires

Kate Crawford, a principal researcher at Microsoft, and author of Atlas of AI (2021), is warning at Nature that the COVID-19 pandemic “is being used as a pretext to push unproven artificial-intelligence tools into workplaces and schools.” The software is touted as able to read the “six basic emotions” via analysis of facial expressions: During the pandemic, technology companies have been pitching their emotion-recognition software for monitoring workers and even children remotely. Take, for example, a system named 4 Little Trees. Developed in Hong Kong, the program claims to assess children’s emotions while they do classwork. It maps facial features to assign each pupil’s emotional state into a category such as happiness, sadness, anger, disgust, surprise and fear. It also…

Businessman hand holding tablet and Yuan currency sign on digital map backgroung.Chinese Yuan digital currency and circuit background.Technology digital Financial and china cryptocurrency concept.
Businessman hand holding tablet and Yuan currency sign on digital map backgroung.Chinese Yuan digital currency and circuit background.Technology digital Financial and china cryptocurrency concept.

Why China Is Making a Bold Gamble With Digital Currency

“Controllable anonymity” means that all transactions between individuals are visible to the People’s Bank and trackable by the Chinese government

Last week, China announced the national rollout of the electronic yuan, a plan in the works since 2014. The e-CNY* or Digital Currency Electronics Payment (DCEP) was piloted last year in four major Chinese cities: The digital yuan resides in cyberspace, available on the owner’s mobile phone — or on a card for the less tech-savvy — and spending it doesn’t strictly require an online connection. It appears on a screen with a silhouette of Mao Zedong, looking just like the paper money. In tests in recent months, more than 100,000 people in China have downloaded a mobile-phone app from the central bank enabling them to spend small government handouts of digital cash with merchants, including Chinese outlets of Starbucks…

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Two HR specialists man and woman analyzing the market of alumni to boost the intern program at international consulting company. Hiring new talented officers. Social media hologram icons.

AI’s Future: Combining RPA With AI to Augment Knowledge Workers

The work machines can’t do is usually the rewarding part, both personally and financially

Counterterrorism requires analysts to work through millions of Twitter and Facebook messages, YouTube videos, and websites in multiple languages, far too much work for humans. But a combination of AI (artificial intelligence) and RPA (robotic process automation) can help humans do this work, leaving humans in charge of the most complex and important decisions. AI systems can crawl through documents in any language, automatically translating them, extracting names of people and organizations, and doing sentiment analysis of conversations to identify key text to be considered later by humans. This text can be automatically organized into proper bins using RPA, enabling a data processing and analytics pipeline that can handle large amounts of content at speeds never possible in the past.…