Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryBusiness and Finance

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economist table with report

What, Exactly, Do Economists Do?

Economist make the world a better place

Thanks to economists, during the economic crisis that began in 2007, the President, Congress, and Federal Reserve did not repeat the errors of the 1930s.

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cryptocurrency equipment mining

Data Mining: A Plague, Not a Cure

It is tempting to believe that patterns are unusual and their discovery meaningful; in large data sets, patterns are inevitable and generally meaningless

Findings patterns in data is easy. Finding meaningful patterns that have a logical basis and can be used to make accurate predictions is elusive. We can see this from 18th-century attempts to cure scurvy through 21st century claims about the stock market or history.

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People on railway station and man in face mask using on phone while epidemic and covid19. Coronavirus and travel and public transport.

Top Consumer Trends COVID-19 Will Change Long Term

Data from 40 countries suggests that, post-COVID, people will continue to stick close to home

According to analysts, robotic devices are becoming more popular for a reason few would have guessed earlier; they reduce the need for physical human contact. Recycling, however, has taken a hit and weaning consumers from disposables post-COVID may prove a challenge. Huge firms are riding the storm, however, and Gen Z is spending the lockdown improving its career chances. Meanwhile, consumers surveyed around the globe say they plan to travel less.

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Retro Robot plays with wooden ABC cubes on floore. 3D rendering. Education scientist robot student

Ruling: AIs Can’t Hold Patents

The US Patent Office has ruled that only "natural persons" can own patents, not machines

An issue left untouched is whether AI can, in principle, be creative in any event. There is no real evidence for that. The big worry, perhaps, is not being replaced by one’s tools but being ruled by them.

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Coronavirus market crash and financial crisis

COVID-19: When 900 Bytes Shut Down the World

A great physicist warned us, information precedes matter and energy: Bit before it

The COVID-19 virus contains about as much information as a sticker in WhatsApp. Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks and Dr. Daniel Andrés Díaz-Pachón  explore a dreadful truth:  “Human biology is so finely tuned that less than a kilobyte of information can stop the world.”

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Post-COVID: Five Ways Your Job Could Change

This is a good time to be a creative thinker and innovator.

Many COVID-driven innovations will likely endure, whether it’s vets doing telehealth, trolls harassing Zoom users, or cybercriminals targeting remote workers, the new opportunities and risks will stay with us.

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Man teleworking from home after coronavirus pandemic

Five Possibly Unexpected Ways the Post-COVID Office Will Change

We’ll all know more about remote working than we ever thought we would

Some managers worry that remote employees will not be productive. They don’t always consider that the remote worker is the person in charge if something affects her work. For example, in an office building, if the water is shut off due to a street repair, a manager would likely co-ordinate. But at home, the worker must decide for herself how best to deal with it, while remaining productive. A level playing field would recognize overall long-term output vs. costs in either case.

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gold-colored Bitcoin coin on ground

And Now… Crypto-COVID!

How the COVID-19 pandemic is creating “social distance” for crypto-currencies

While the equity markets have garnered a lot of attention in the COVID-19 pandemic, cryptocurrencies have been largely ignored by the media. This is partly because interest in cryptocurrency in general has waned over the last two years. But the pandemic has shed some light on their market mechanics.

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Coronavirus, covid-19 news headlines on United States of America 100 dollar bills. Concept of financial impact, stock market decline and crash due to worldwide pandemic

The Stock Market: Gains, Pains, and Panics

A fear that, if prices fall, they will continue falling is not justified by history but by panic

A psychological quirk called loss aversion makes us fear losses far more than we value gains. The panic investors experience from sudden losses can blind them to the overall, long-term picture.  We can demonstrate this tendency with a simple thought experiment.

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robots in a car plant

Will the COVID-19 Pandemic Promote Mass Automation?

Caution! Robots don’t file for benefits but that’s not all we need to know about them

I understand the panic many business leaders experience as they try to stay solvent while customers evaporate. Panic, however, is a poor teacher: AI-based automation will not only not solve all their problems, it may very well add to them. AI is not a magic box into which we can stuff them and make them disappear.

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Self-driving electric semi truck driving on highway. 3D rendering image.

Star self-driving truck firm shuts; AI not safe enough soon enough

CEO Stefan Seltz-Axmacher is blunt about the cause: Machine learning “doesn’t live up to the hype”

Starsky Robotics was not just another startup overwhelmed by business realities. In 2019, it was named one of the world’s 100 most promising start-ups (CNBC) and one to watch by FreightWaves, a key trucking industry publication. But the AI breakthroughs did not appear.

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Why Does the Vatican Need Microsoft?

Should the Church really partner with IBM and Microsoft to make pronouncements on tech regulation?

When giant corporate actors like IBM and Microsoft promote “transparency and compliance with ethical principles?”, we run the risk that they are helping to craft regulations that hinder future competitors (“regulatory capture”). Rather than partner with them in making statements, the Church should stay clear.

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Group Friends Video Chat Connection Concept

We Will Never Go Back to the Pre-COVID-19 Workplace

The virus forced us to realize: Staying together apart has never been so easy

While many people (myself included) have railed against the excesses of technology and its tendency to weaken community spirit and understanding, it turns out that, in the present crisis, it is having the opposite effect. We aren’t really alone in the same way any more.

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Remote jobs for public health concept. Computers, pills and medical mask

COVID-19: Do Quarantine Rules Apply to Mega-Geniuses?

How did Elon Musk, who has a cozy relationship with China, get his upscale car factory classified as an essential business during the pandemic?

If we are going to hold some people up as business icons, why should it be those who—in the present COVID-19 troubles—have relations with China that necessarily raise questions?

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Is Moore’s Law Over?

Rapid increase in computing power may become a thing of the past

If Moore’s Law fails, AI may settle in as a part of our lives like the automobile but it will not really be the Ruler of All except for those who choose that lifestyle. Even so, a belief that we will, for example, merge with computers by 2045 (the Singularity) is perhaps immune to the march of mere events. Entire arts and entertainment industries depend on the expression of such beliefs.

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Stanford’s AI Index Report: How Much Is BS?

Some measurements of AI’s economic impact sound like the metrics that fueled the dot-com bubble

Stanford University’s AI index offers us fanciful measures of the triumph of AI, rivaling the far-fetched metrics of dot-com commerce. The reality has been the opposite. For decades, U.S. productivity grew by about 3% a year. Then, after 1970, it slowed to 1.5% a year, then 1%, now about 0.5%. Perhaps we are spending too much time on our smartphones.

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young asian man working from home

The Future of Transportation is Not Going Anywhere

As legislators and lobbyists wrangle, we may be trying to solve a problem that is gradually solving itself

The last decade has resounded with failed predictions about the future of transportation. I can't speak for other locations, but the Great E-Scooter Revolution of 2019 has both come and gone in the city in which I live. Isn’t the real future of transportation working and shopping at home? Why not just let the electrons do the commute and streamline the grocery run? 

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Which Career-Limiting Data Mistake Are YOU Most at Risk For?

Award-winning data science author Gary Smith says the odds depend on your relationship to the data

Dr. Smith thinks that the most dangerous error is putting data before theory. Many data-mining algorithms that are now being used to screen job applicants, price car insurance, approve loan applications, and determine prison sentences have significant errors and biases that are not due to programmer mistakes and biases, but to a misplaced belief in data-mining.

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McAfee: Assisted Driving System Is Easily Fooled

Defacing a road sign caused the system to dramatically accelerate the vehicle

Over time, machine vision will become harder to fool than the one that was recently tricked into rapid acceleration by a defaced sign. But it will still be true that a fooled human makes a better decision than a fooled machine because the fooled human has common sense, awareness, and a mind that reasons.

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Polygonal art of Bullish vs Bearish

Ransacking Flawed Data For Hidden Treasures Seldom Ends Well

The Internet provides a firehose of data that financial market researchers can use to interpret human behavior—but cherry-picked patterns usually vanish

The explosion of data has vastly increased the number of coincidental patterns that can be discovered by tenacious researchers. If there are a relatively fixed number of useful patterns and the number of coincidental patterns is growing exponentially, then the ratio of useful patterns to useless patterns must necessarily be getting closer to zero every day.

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