Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryBusiness and Finance

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Close up of stock market trader looking at graph

Not All False Prophets Are Promoting Religions…

False finance prophets’ credentials or charisma are much more impressive than their track records — but we need a way to tell

Recently, our authors Jeffrey Lee Funk and Gary Smith alerted MarketWatch readers to the problem of “false prophets” in the investment world: We could write a long book about false prophets on Wall Street. What is interesting is how easily people are enchanted by charismatic personalities — some who peddle advice, some who run companies. A decade ago, for example, Yahoo tried to save itself by paying almost $1 billion to five charismatic CEOs (Terry Semel, Jerry Yang, Carol Bartz, Scott Thompson, and Marissa Mayer), four of them outsiders, who were hired over a five-year period and arguably did more harm than good. Jeffrey Lee Funk and Gary N. Smith, “Sensible stock investors put their money on a company’s real…

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Information field around the Earth

Musk’s Starlink Tied to Traffic Chaos in Orbit and on Earth

If nothing else, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has brought public attention to the future of space, who it belongs to, and how it is paid for

This week has seen quite a struggle for Elon Musk’s SpaceX and its satellite-based internet service Starlink. SpaceX had recently pocketed some interesting wins for Starlink. Its offer to keep Ukrainians online in the midst of the recent crisis earned Starlink favor in the eyes of both the military and Eastern European nations. It has also started launching operations in Latin America. Just days ago SpaceX performed its 35th launch of the year, adding 52 more Starlink satellites. However, Starlink has also faced a number recent headwinds which could spell trouble for the service. While its public beta test performed well for many users, as the service has expanded, the capabilities of the network appear to be stretched. Despite promises…

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Business, finance, savings money, wages, payroll or accounting concept : Calendar with pink marker circle in word payday for remind

Can Your Social Media Posts Sink Your Credit Rating? Maybe…

With AI tools, your posts or the time of day you apply for a loan might matter. Is that fair to you? Did you even know?

University of Georgia law prof Lindsay Sain Jones and Virginia Tech law prof Janine Hiller offer what should be startling news: What does your SAT score mean for your ability to pay off a car loan? What does your Facebook feed say about your chances of landing a mortgage? And, what does your propensity for snacking on road trips mean for your credit score? The answers: More than you think. Traditional credit scoring is based on a person’s demonstrated ability to take on debt and pay it off. But with the dawn of larger data pools and access to more sophisticated modeling programs, lenders and credit agencies are taking more nonfinancial factors into rating creditworthiness, particularly those without an extensive…

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boy standing on the opened book and looking at other books floating in the air, digital art style, illustration painting

Can a Computer Write Your novel? Well, What Do You Want To Say?

These tools are sure to become a staple in the hot and time-sensitive market for boutique formula fiction

Jennifer Lepp was behind schedule with her latest detective novel, Bring Your Beach Owl (2022), featuring a detective witch in central Florida. Through Kindle Direct, under the pen name of Leanne Leeds, Lepp independently publishes what she calls “potato chip books”, making over US$100k annually. Amazon creates “microclimates” for readers so that genre writers can tailor their work precisely to a market, as she does: “paranormal cozy mystery.” But it’s a business where deadlines matter. Readers have many other choices. As Josh Dzieza tells it at The Verge, Lepp begged developers for a beta test of Sudowrite, aimed at fiction writers. It’s one of the programs created from OpenAI’s language generator GPT-3: Authors paste what they’ve written into a soothing…

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Bitcoin and cryptomoney

Just As Cryptocurrencies Went Mainstream — a Huge Collapse!

A central weakness is that investors must go through exchanges which have none of the safeguards established for the blockchain itself

The cryptocurrency markets have been in total upheaval for the last several months. The blowup essentially started when the stablecoin UST (provided by Terra) suddenly lost its peg to the US dollar. A stablecoin is supposed to maintain a 1:1 trading match to an underlying currency, so 1 UST is supposed to be worth $1. Most trading in crypto is trades between stablecoins and other coins rather than actual cash transactions using stablecoins. Due to some unforeseen (but not necessarily unforeseeable) issues, UST lost its peg; between May and June its value dropped from $1 to just over two pennies. This near erasure of value affected Terra’s other cryptocurrency, LUNA, which dropped from $80 to effectively zero over the same…

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Cheerful attractive young female graphic designer smiling and working at her desk in modern office

New OpenAI Art Program Does NOT Claim Copyright for AI

As DALL-E 2, which generates blended images in response to key words, moves into the art world, a key question has just been settled

A case currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals must decide if artificial intelligences should have patent rights on processes they were used to design. Throwing a wrench into the works, OpenAI has announced that artists using its new DALL-E beta software can sell the work: “Starting today, users get full usage rights to commercialize the images they create with DALL·E, including the right to reprint, sell, and merchandise. This includes images they generated during the research preview.” (July 20, 2022) First, here’s what DALL-E can do: Some worry about its impact on jobs in the arts: OpenAI’s press release for DALL-E 2 markets the advanced tech as a “powerful creative tool” that will speed up and inspire the creative…

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Icon group as speech bubble cloud

Twitter vs. Musk: The Many Different Ways the Story Could End

Twitter, which didn’t really want Musk, is now suing to make him its boss. They all hate each other. Can this work?

In the most recent episode of the Musk and Twitter show, Twitter was suing driverless car entrepreneur Elon Musk to compel him to buy the company at the original posted price — despite the fact that earlier, many employees didn’t want him to buy it at all. Also despite the fact that he says he no longer wants to. Readers, this is happening only because Big Tech stock values are way down. A useful article by technology reporter Alex Sherman at CNBC (July 11, 2022) identifies eight ways the saga could end, namely 1 and 4: Musk just ends up paying the $1B breakup fee or some other settlement and Twitter continues with its meltdowns and bot problems, as long…

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Black male person in warm denim jacket uses smartphone to pay for purchase at self-checkout point in supermarket close view

Could the Self-Checkout Ruin Your Reputation?

As Big Retail’s war on shoplifting goes digital, honest customers risk getting nabbed for goofs — and then facing a shakedown

In 2018, it was noted at The Atlantic that shoplifting via self-serve checkouts was common. How does it work? Self-checkout theft has become so widespread that a whole lingo has sprung up to describe its tactics. Ringing up a T-bone ($13.99/lb) with a code for a cheap ($0.49/lb) variety of produce is “the banana trick.” If a can of Illy espresso leaves the conveyor belt without being scanned, that’s called “the pass around.” “The switcheroo” is more labor-intensive: Peel the sticker off something inexpensive and place it over the bar code of something pricey. Just make sure both items are about the same weight, to avoid triggering that pesky “unexpected item” alert in the bagging area. Rene Chun, “The Banana…

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Big eye watching a group of people 3D rendering

AI Would Run the World Better Than Humans, Google Research Claims

Don’t believe the headlines: Google’s inhouse game does not show that AI is ready to rule the world

Sixty years ago, conservative provocateur William F. Buckley wrote, “I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the telephone directory, than by the Harvard University faculty.” Buckley was a Yale man, but his barb was not intended to compare Harvard to Yale. He later explained: Not, heaven knows, because I hold lightly the brainpower or knowledge or generosity or even the affability of the Harvard faculty: but because I greatly fear intellectual arrogance, and that is a distinguishing characteristic of the university which refuses to accept any common premise. Now may be the time to update Buckley’s incendiary remarks: I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the telephone directory, than by a black…

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Twitter handle with care

Elon Musk Has Walked Out on Twitter … Or Has He?

Some think it’s all theater. Others that he is compelling a price reduction “by other means”

Yesterday, Elon Musk announced that he was backing out of the deal to buy Twitter, which he was hoping to turn into more of a free speech platform: Elon Musk, the chief executive officer of Tesla (TSLA.O) and the world’s richest person, said on Friday he was terminating his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter (TWTR.N) because the social media company had breached multiple provisions of the merger agreement. Greg Roumeliotis, “Twitter vows legal fight after Musk pulls out of $44 billion deal” at Reuters (July 9, 2022) Twitter plans to fight: The Twitter Board is committed to closing the transaction on the price and terms agreed upon with Mr. Musk and plans to pursue legal action to enforce the…

Go-game

Would AI Still Win at Go If the Board Shrunk: 19 to 17 Spaces?

No, say Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith — and would-be investors need to grasp AI’s weaknesses as well as strengths, for success

Statistician Jeffrey Lee Funk and business prof Gary N. Smith offer a warning for investors: Some AI stocks have been good investments but most high tech unicorns never pay off. It’s a not surprising, they say, when we consider that AI is powerful but brittle. An example they offer: AI easily beats humans at the game of go which features a 19 × 19-square board. If the game switched to a 17 × 17-square board, humans would quickly adjust but AI would flounder. They offer examples of how this sort of limitation plays out in the real world, including the true tale of a hapless AI-driven insurance company: An insurance company with the quirky name Lemonade was founded in 2015…

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AI・人工知能

AI: Is Thinking Humanly More Important Than Acting Rationally?

I have documented many examples of GPT-3 AI’s failure to distinguish meaningful from meaningless correlations — and invite readers to contribute their own

The potential power of artificial intelligence (AI) has been touted for more than 60 years though a generally accepted definition is elusive. AI has often been defined in terms of human-like capabilities. In 1960, for example, AI pioneer Herbert Simon, an economics Nobel laureate and Turing Award winner, predicted that “machines will be capable, within twenty years, of doing any work a man can do.” In 1970 Marvin Minsky, also a Turing Award winner, said that, “In from three to eight years we will have a machine with the general intelligence of an average human being.” More recently, in 2015, Mark Zuckerberg said that, “One of our goals for the next five to 10 years is to basically get better…

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Office syndrome, Backache and Lower Back Pain Concept. a man touching his lower back at pain point

The Challenges of Medical Care When Insurance Algorithms Rule

Pain management physician Richard Hurley is a veteran of many successful appeals to insurance companies that have refused to pay for treatments

In the first portion of Episode 187, “Good and bad algorithms in the practice of medicine” (May 19, 2022), Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks and anesthetist Dr. Richard Hurley discussed where algorithms help in medicine… and where they don’t. In this portion, they turn to how to get good medical care when you are dealing with an insurance company as well as medical staff and institutions. The two types of institution are, as we will see, very different. Before we get started: Robert J. Marks, a Distinguished Professor of Computer and Electrical Engineering, Engineering at Baylor University, has a new book, coming out Non-Computable You (June, 2022), on the need for realism in another area as well —…

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Abstract virtual microscheme illustration on flag of China and blurry cityscape background. Big data and database concept. Multiexposure

Is China’s Crackdown on Big Tech Easing Up?

Depends on who you talk to. It could be wishful thinking on the part of investors

. As a China news site SupChina told the story mid-last year, Beijing practically nuked the Chinese Big Tech industries: Since the suspension of Ant Group’s IPO in November, Beijing has embarked on an unprecedented clampdown of its technology sector. The casualties include some of China’s leading tech companies, such as Tencent (internet conglomerate), Meituan (food delivery), Pinduoduo (ecommerce), Didi (ride-hailing app), Full Truck Alliance (freight logistics app), Kanzhun (recruitment), online private tutoring companies like New Oriental Education and TAL Education, and a crackdown on cryptocurrencies. Chang Che and Jeremy Goldkorn, “China’s ‘Big Tech crackdown’: A guide” at SupChina (August 2, 2021) SupChina offered a variety of explanations for the sudden lunge at Big Tech, which started in November 2020, from ideological purification through internal Party warfare. Summing up: What the tech crackdown tells us…

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Stock Market Management

Some Economic Models are Alluring, Others are Useful

In some markets, prices are affected by market forces and in others, like the job market, they are not

Statistician George Box is credited with the aphorism, “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” Unfortunately, as the brilliant economist Ed Leamer, once quipped, “Economists are like artists. They tend to fall in love with their models.” A large part of the art of economics is distinguishing between attractive models and useful models. The traditional bedrock of economics is the demand-and-supply model. Every introductory economics course explains how demand and supply are related to price and how the equilibrium price is where demand is equal to supply. This can be a very useful model for predicting how changes in demand and supply affect prices and trades — if we make the tempting assumption that the market price is equal…

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Handsome bearded African man touches the touchscreen in his new high-tech electric vehicle while while talking by phone and smiling. Self driving vehicle concept

New York Times Documentary Takes on Musk’s “Self-Driving” Claims

In an era where Big Media tend to just play along with Big Tech hype and vaporware, a Season 2 film homes in for a closer look

The New York Times has a new TV show through FX Networks, called The New York Times Presents, a series of standalone documentaries presented by journalists from the paper. Mind Matters News readers will likely take a special interest in the first documentary of Season 2 because it deals with the technology of self-driving cars at Tesla and we have been talking about these issues for years. The film, titled Elon Musk’s Crash Course, follows the development of Tesla Motors and its claims about full self-driving vehicles. On the whole, while the I can commend the documentary as one of the first large-scale media efforts to take the issues with Tesla self-driving cars seriously, overall it emphasizes the wrong issues.…

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Big data futuristic visualization abstract illustration

How Software Makers Will Push Back Against Reforms

Software makers will grumble but insurers may force their hand. That, however, is NOT the Big Battle…

Veteran software developer David A. Kruger offered some thoughts on computer security recently at Expensivity and we appreciate the opportunity to republish them here as a series. On Friday, we looked at the claim that human data collectors should own your data because it is too complex for you to manage. In this final installment, we look at how tech companies will try to avoid actually having to change anything. Preview of Coming Attractions If policymakers start to move towards implementing the policies suggested above, there will be a pushback from software makers that are not HDCs. They will be unhappy about additional software development costs, and they will play the “It’s the cyberattackers, not us!” card, saying it’s unfair to hold…

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Roboter auf Tastatur, Methapher für Chatbot / Socialbot, Algorithmen und künstliche Intelligenz

Musk’s Twitter Deal Is at Risk Amid Fierce Attacks on Him

Tarred as a privileged white South African, Musk moved to Canada at 17 to avoid serving in South Africa’s apartheid army

Traditional media and many tech mavens are elated that Elon Musk’s Twitter deal is now shaky. It’s no secret that they were unhappy with it and with him. The New York Times launched an extraordinary attack on Musk on May 5, tweeting “Elon Musk grew up in elite white communities in South Africa, detached from apartheid’s atrocities and surrounded by anti-Black propaganda. He sees his takeover of Twitter as a free speech win but in his youth did not suffer the effects of misinformation.” In reality, Musk left for Canada at the age of 17, to avoid serving in the South African military, whose principal purpose was to oppress black South Africans. He had Canadian citizenship by way of his…

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Smart technologies in your smartphone, collection and analysis of big data

Is Your Data About Yourself Too Complex for You to Manage?

That’s the argument human data collectors (HDCs) make for why they should be allowed to collect and own your data

Veteran software developer David A. Kruger offered some thoughts on computer security recently at Expensivity and we appreciate the opportunity to republish them here as a series. On Tuesday, we looked at how the current system punishes small businesses for data breaches that they could not have prevented. Today, we look at the claim that human data collectors should own your data because it is too complex for you to manage. The Easy Button The most common objection to data ownership is that self-management of owned data is overly complex. That view is based on the complexity of so-called “privacy controls” offered by big tech HDCs, controls which have every appearance of being deliberately obtuse. As a software developer and…

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Strichcode

What You Need To Know About Surveillance Capitalism

A Harvard professor coined the term and her 2019 book sounds a warning about how Google and Facebook gain power and wealth selling YOU

The term “surveillance capitalism” was coined by Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff in her book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. It’s a fascinating read, offering insight into the power that companies like Google and Facebook have amassed and the danger that power poses to our way of life. Here’s how she explained it to the United Kingdom’s Channel 4 News in 2019: Here’s how surveillance capitalism works, just in brief. It begins with these companies claiming, unilaterally claiming, our private human experience as their free source of raw material. So what do they do with that raw material? They lift out of it the rich predictive signals in our…