Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryBusiness and Finance

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Blockchain technology. Information blocks in digital space. Decentralized global network. Cyberspace data protection. 3D illustration with elements of a binary code

While the West Hesitates, China Is Moving to Blockchain

Life After Google by George Gilder, advocating blockchain, became a best seller in China and received a social sciences award

In this week’s podcast, “George Gilder on blockchain and carbon computing,” tech philosopher George Gilder and computer engineer Robert J. Marks, our Walter Bradley Center director, continued their discussion of the impact of artificial intelligence (AI). This time, they focused on the future of blockchain, of quantum computing, and carbon computing.What difference will they make? Quite a lot it seems. Today, we will look at what happens when blockchain goes global. You can download Gilder’s new book, Gaming AI, for free here. The three earlier episodes and transcripts in this series are also linked below. And so now… https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-108-George-Gilder.mp3 Gilder and Marks discussed both the huge surge of interest in blockchain in China and the central weakness of Bitcoin, whose…

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smart retail concept, robot service use for check the data of or Stores that stock goods on shelves with easily-viewed barcode and prices or photo compared against an idealized representation of store

WalMart Shelves Its Robot Inventory Clerks

These costly experiences are helping businesses better understand when automation works and when it just doesn’t

The WalMart automation project started in 2017, as part of an effort to compete with Amazon: Walmart, which posted record online sales in its recent quarter, now has more workers walking the aisles to package online orders, extracting new data on inventory problems, people familiar with the situation told the Wall Street Journal, which was the first to report this news. Reuters Staff, “Walmart drops plans to use robots for tracking inventory” at Reuters Here’s some background: Walmart ended the partnership because it found different, sometimes simpler solutions that proved just as useful – something that came to light during the coronavirus pandemic as more shoppers flock to online delivery and pickup, forcing Walmart to have workers physically walk store…

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Smart car, Autonomous self-driving concept.

Daimler, Waymo, and GM Make Big Gains in Level 4 Self-Driving

GM has been given a permit to test five driverless cars on streets in San Francisco later this year

The Society for Automotive Engineering (SAE) has identified five levels of self-driving which describe how much a particular vehicle is able to handle its own driving tasks. Level 1 means that the vehicle handles either the speed or the steering, but not both, and it requires supervision. While ordinary cruise control technically falls into this level, most people associate cruise control with adaptive cruise control, which slows down or speeds up with traffic. A Level 2 car can control the speed and the steering but the driver must still maintain full vigilance. At Level 3, the driver need not maintain total vigilance but must still be able to take control upon request. Level 4 is “full self-driving” but limited to…

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economic crisis stock chart falling down business global money bankruptcy concept

Faster Computers Lead to More Wealth, Right? What Could Go Wrong?

What if fast computers get in the way of carefully considering information before starting trades?

In this week’s podcast, tech philosopher George Gilder and computer engineer Robert J. Marks, our Walter Bradley Center director, continued their discussion of the impact of artificial intelligence (AI). This time, they focused on the way AI affects the stock market, for better or worse. You can download Gilder’s new book, Gaming AI, for free here. The first part of the discussion between Gilder and Marks is here. Meanwhile… https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-106-George-Gilder.mp3 From the transcript: (Show Notes, Resources, and a link to the complete transcript follow.) Robert J. Marks: I had a friend, Jack Marshall, who was a professor of financial engineering. He was approached all the time by people who said, “I have beat the market by artificial intelligence.” And of…

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black swan In a pond

It’s Hard To Estimate Highly Improbable Things Like Earthquakes

Some have hoped that AI would provide reliable help with predicting They have been disappointed

Investors often overreact to both good and bad news. When a company’s quarterly earnings turn out to be slightly below forecasts, its stock price might plunge 20 percent or more. Thus, when theoretical models of the stock market models assume that price changes conform to a bell-shaped curve of normal distribution, that assumption is more convenient than credible. Another inconvenient truth is that many investors are prone to chasing trends up or down. After a stock’s price has gone up, they rush to buy, which pushes the price even higher. When these two realities meet head-on, stock returns are sometimes more extremely good or bad than would be true of a normal distribution. On October 19, 1987, the S&P 500…

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Autopilot self-driving car system with no human intervention. Close up cropped image of hand of African male driver browsing the internet using smartphone and touchscreen in futuristic autonomous car

Self-Driving Cars: Waymo Beats Tesla By Picking the Right Target

Trying to get the human out of the loop, as Musk proposes, becomes increasingly costly as the complexity increases

Full self-driving has been a contentious topic in the last few years. In 2016, Elon Musk started claiming that his cars had all the hardware needed to do full self-driving, and that the software would be there by 2019. You would be able to summon a car from across the United States and it would drive across the country, recharging as needed, to pick you up, no driver needed. He has specifically indicated that he means Level 5 autonomy, which means that no driver is needed at all. The driver can sleep, watch a movie, or just hang out in the back seat. In fact, in 2016, he indicated that drivers were merely there for regulatory purposes. Musk’s claims about…

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Crypto currency background with various of shiny silver and golden physical cryptocurrencies symbol coins, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, zcash, ripple

Has COVID-19 Helped or Harmed Crypto and Blockchain?

Cryptocurrencies rebounded after an initial slump earlier this year

The recently aired discussion at COSM about the future of bitcoin and other privately minted cryptocurrencies took place last October, before COVID-19 was much thought of in the Western world. Catching up, the cryptos and blockchain had a rough ride earlier this year but they have stabilized recently. In February, as the pandemic sent markets scurrying, things were looking grim for the cryptos: During the last week, the spread of the coronavirus has been all over the news; the virus, which had remained well-contained in China, spread throughout South Korea, Iran, Italy, and is now reaching its fingers into other parts of Europe. The New York Times reported on Thursday that “the signs were everywhere…that the epidemic shaking much of…

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Modern way of exchange. Bitcoin is convenient payment in global economy market. Virtual digital currency and financial investment trade concept. Abstract cryptocurrency with gold bitcoin background..

Are Crypto and Blockchain Key to a Tech Renaissance?

A former director of the US Mint thinks that the market will gravitate toward these solutions

A panel discussion at COSM explored the future of crypto currencies like Bitcoin and blockchain technologies in general. What might they mean for global money, global security, and internet architecture? The panel, moderated by Wired contributing editor Spencer Reiss, comprised futurist George Gilder, Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media, Ed Moy, former Director of the U.S. Mint, and William Dembski, mathematician, entrepreneur, and philosopher: Can Crypto and Blockchain Reverse the Tech Decline (and Enable an Internet Renaissance)? Here are some snatches from the dialogue (aired September 11, 2020): George Gilder (on what’s wrong with the internet): It’s a broken paradigm. How do you tell a broken paradigm? The more money you spend on it, the worse it gets.…

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Department store shop class luxury, near the Red Bridge, historical buildings of Saint-Petersburg. In the background the city and St. Isaac's Cathedral dome of golden color, in the evening at sunset.

Russia Aims to Close the Technology Gap With the United States

Independent since 1991, the vast nation offers a government version of Silicon Valley culture

In this week’s podcast, “AI development in Russia, Part 1,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks talks with Samuel Bendett about Russia’s struggles to develop AI for entrepreneurship and free enterprise, rather than military uses. It turns out to be mainly a cultural struggle, as historic institutions must adapt to an environment where market dominance is more important than military dominance. Mr. Bendett, who is fluent in Russian and English, is an advisor to the Russia Studies Program and the Center for Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence of the CNA Adversary Analysis Group. And how is Russia faring? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-103-Samuel-Bendett.mp3 From the transcript: (Show Notes, Resources, and a link to the complete transcript follow.) Robert J. Marks (pictured): What I want…

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Group of friends using smartphones to communicate in social media. Concept of a generation of millennials who are online all the time. Warm hipster filter.

The Social Dilemma: You’re Not the Customer, You’re the Product

A new Netflix documentary explores the techniques used to explore, then shape and sharpen, our attitudes, values, and beliefs

What is truth? This question has likely been pondered by man for as long as man has been able to ponder. How do you know that what you read or hear is true? How do you know that what you think is true? Why is it that people with different worldviews or belief systems can look at the exact same raw objective data and interpret it in radically different ways? The answers to these questions are important to “know”, insofar as anyone can know anything within a reasonable degree of certainty. However, in our society today, it is becoming more and more difficulty to determine what is true––with any degree of certainty. A recent 90-minute Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma,…

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Curious boy looking out the window with binocular

Has Microsoft Ever Really Innovated?

That’s a question worth asking, with a history of litigation winning out over innovation

An interesting question in a 2010 discussion thread at Quora is “Why has Microsoft seemingly stopped innovating?” A deeper question is “Has Microsoft ever innovated?” Microsoft’s Bill Gates should be celebrated as a gifted and highly competitive entrepreneur and businessman. But his background as a computer scientist and student of algorithmic information theory is questionable. For this reason, Bill Gates’ assessment of the future of AI should be questioned. Undergraduate Gates dropped out of Harvard University to pursue the founding of Microsoft. He was a knowledgeable programmer with early computer hardware but his more significant talents as an entrepreneur did not require deep studies in computer science. Much of his success came from his business instincts and his team of…

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Video call. Online zoom conference. Business team gathered for an online meeting in zoom app. On a computer monitor a group of people online

COVID-19: Technology Trends That Are Sneaking Up on Us Faster Now

Most of these changes, for better or worse, are probably here to stay

We knew big changes were coming. And that COVID-19 has ramped them up. But when experts expound grand generalities and wave their hands a lot, it can be hard to clearly see what a change means where we live and work. One writing teacher, for example, learned how to massively adapt all of a sudden: Each spring, I teach Writing about Oneself, a class on first-person reading and writing, to 12 Yale undergraduates chosen from 100 or so… Every year I fill out the registrar’s Pedagogical Needs Request Form, leaving 14 of the 15 “Technological Needs” boxes unchecked. (No, I don’t need a SMART board. No, I don’t need a digital projector. No, I don’t need a Blu-ray player.) The…

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Creative background, male hand holding a phone with a 5G hologram on the background of the city. The concept of 5G network, high-speed mobile Internet, new generation networks. Copy space,

Seattle Area a Good Site for 5G Development, Says Analyst

By increasing bandwidth and reducing slow times, 5G will enable more people to do more online

At COSM 2019, Jay Richards interviewed Bruce Agnew, Director of the Seattle-based ACES Northwest Network on the collective’s work in bringing ACES (Automated, Connected, Electric, and Shared) vehicle technologies to the Puget Sound region. They discussed, among other things, the role that 5G will play in implementing autonomous vehicles. Since 1993, Bruce Agnew has been the Policy Director of Seattle-based Discovery Institute’s Cascadia Center. The Cascadia Center is a strategic alliance from Vancouver, BC, to Eugene, Oregon, promoting high speed passenger rail, Interstate-5 freight mobility, seamless border crossings, bi-national and bi-state tourism marketing, and sustainable community development. Two of his co-chairs, Tom Alberg and Bryan Mistele, were also interviewed in this series (at the links). From the interview: Agnew began…

3D illustration of an autonomous shipping vessel controlled remotely by artificial intelligence software managed by sensors on the shipping freight
3D illustration of an autonomous shipping vessel controlled remotely by artificial intelligence software managed by sensors on the shipping freight

Will Your Next Water Outing Be on a Crewless Watercraft?

Crewless ships get much less attention than driverless cars but they are much more obviously practical

The new robot Mayflower, scheduled to set out across the Atlantic from Portsmouth next spring (tracing the voyage of the historic Mayflower in 1620), is one of a growing number of autonomous vessels. It must make many decisions based on its programming. Like most crewless ships at present, the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS)’s mission is information, not transportation. That mission includes gathering data on plastic pollution and marine mammals, according to IBM, the technology partner of U.K.-based marine research organization, Promare. Here are some reasons autonomous (crewless) vessels offer advantages: ➤ With 70% of Earth’s surface covered by water, only 20% of which is mapped, there are too few humans trained to do the scientific, commercial, and patrol jobs. Much…

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Interior of warehouse storage, Stack of shipment boxes on pallets and hand pallet truck, Warehouse industry delivery shipment goods, logistics and transportation.

Part 2: A Peek Under the Covers at the New Docker Technology

Many advances enable Docker to significantly reduce a system’s overhead

As businesses move more and more of their infrastructure online due to the effects of competition (not to mention COVID-19), finding the best way to manage that infrastructure becomes more and more important. As we saw in Part 1, Docker enables development teams to have more reliable, repeatable, and testable systems that can be deployed at massive scale with the click of a button. In this installment, we are going to take a look at the technology behind Docker and how it originated. From Emulators to Virtual Machines Docker allows you to run numerous “containers” at the same time on a single computer. Each of these containers acts as if it were a separate computer. It knows nothing about what…

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Bull market trend, green growth arrow. Stock Exchange and concept of a trading chart. Low poly, wireframe 3d Raster illustration. Abstract polygonal image on blue neon background

The Stock Market Keeps Rising Despite COVID. Is It Nuts?

I’ve been asked whether advanced AI can explain the conundrum

What is going on? Our GDP has collapsed and 16 million people are unemployed. Thousands of small businesses and dozens of billion-dollar companies have gone bankrupt, including California Pizza Kitchen, Hertz, JCPenney, Neiman Marcus, and Brooks Brothers. Yet, the stock market keeps hitting all-time high after all-time high. The stock market is supposed to be related to the economy. When the economy booms, corporate profits explode; when the economy collapses, profits crater. That’s what happened during the Great Depression when stock prices fell 90 percent and the unemployment rate averaged 19 percent for a decade. Now, stocks and the economy are moving in opposite directions. What is going on? A friend who knows that I live, breathe, and teach investments…

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Cars on road highway in traffic jam

Autonomous Vehicles Are Not a “Rich Person’s” Technology

A transportation expert tells Jay Richards, alternative transport may disrupt the transportation industry but only in the short term

Jay Richards talked recently with Tom Alberg, Founder of the Madrona Venture Group and Co-chair of the ACES Northwest Network, about ACES’ efforts to bring Automated, Connected, Electric, and Shared vehicle technologies to the Puget Sound region: The Benefits of ACES Vehicle Technology A partial transcript follows: Jay Richards: Well, you were chairing the panel on autonomous vehicles and you’re part of an initiative here in Seattle. What do you think is the most important takeaway from that? Tom Alberg: I think that it’s really a combination of technologies. It’s both new technologies and it’s changed business models. So we formed a group here in Seattle called ACES, Autonomous, Connected, Electric, and Shared. “Shared” is really kind of the Uber…

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Oh no!

Six Limitations of Artificial Intelligence As We Know It

You’d better hope it doesn’t run your life, as Robert J. Marks explains to Larry Linenschmidt

The list is a selection from “Bingecast: Robert J. Marks on the Limitations of Artificial Intelligence,” a discussion between Larry L. Linenschmidt of the Hill Country Institute and Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks. The focus on why we mistakenly attribute understanding and creativity to computers. The interview was originally published by the Hill Country Institute and is reproduced with thanks.  https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-097-Robert-Marks.mp3 Here is a partial transcript, listing six limits of AI as we know it: (The Show Notes, Additional Resources, and a link to the full transcript are below.) 1. Computers can do a great deal but, by their nature, they are limited to algorithms. Larry L. Linenschmidt: When I read the term “classical computer,” how does a computer function? Let’s build on…

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red lifeboat

Business Prof: Stop It! The World is NOT Running Out of Stuff!

A famous bet between two top thinkers settled that a long time ago

Recently, Jay Richards interviewed Dr. Gale Pooley, Professor of Economics at BYU-Hawaii, on the myth that we are running out of resources and doomed to future scarcity. Even though media pundits often claim it is true, the numbers say it is a myth. The story begins with a famous bet between two professors… From the interview: The bet was whether basic commodity prices would rise between September 29, 1980 and September 29, 1990. The professors who made the bet were Stanford insect biologist Paul Ehrlich (1932–), author of bestseller The Population Bomb (1968), and economist Julian Simon (1932–1998) Ehrlich bet yes and Simon bet no. Gale Pooley: First of all, what was interesting about Julian Simon, he reads Ehrlich’s book…

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Nerd with glasses hacking websites

Beware of Geeks Bearing Formulas—It’s Often Pseudoscience

Pseudoscience based on data without theory and theory without data undermine the credibility of real science, which is the key to human progress

Elsewhere I have warned of the perils of making decisions based on data without theory. For example, the patterns discovered by data-mining computer algorithms are often nothing more than meaningless coincidences. It is also perilous to go to the opposite extreme—to make decisions based on theory without data. Once upon a time, for example, economists were fond of sketching labor demand and supply curves and assuming that the economy was at their intersection. That is, labor demand is equal to supply, so that everyone who wants to work is working. The unemployed have chosen to be unemployed because they value leisure more than income. True believers were fond of this theory and little troubled by reality. Between 1929 and 1933,…