Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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Pandora
Forest on Pandora, home of the Na'vi

Avatar 2 Surpasses Spider-Man at the Box Office

The long-awaited sequel proved the skeptics wrong and scored big at the movie theaters

James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water, surpassed Spider-Man: No Way Home in box office records and now stands at No. 6 of all time highest grossing films. The sci-fi visual wonder is the sequel to the first Avatar installment, which was released in December 2009. Critics doubted whether the franchise could rebound in popularity after a 13 year absence in the movie theaters, atop further concerns about the relevance and viability of moviegoing in the “pandemic era.” The doubters were quelled by the success of Spider-Man: No Way Home, and with Cameron’s blockbuster success, might be silenced for good. Despite ever increasing streaming options, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and Peacock, people still seem interested in Read More ›

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people standing around big data cloud

A Fun Scottish Film on Breaking Free From Global AI

In “Widdershins,” our animated hero is leading the perfect life — if only he were a machine, that is. Then he meets someone who…

In “Widdershins,” our animated hero is leading the perfect life — if only he were a machine, that is. Then he meets someone who… Can he break free? Does he even want to? Eleven minutes will tell… The life of a pampered gentleman is seamlessly automated by machines, but his orderly existence is thrown into chaos when he chooses to pursue a free-spirited woman, against the advice of his robot butler. – Director, Simon Briggs, 2018

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3D rendered fantasy alien planet. Rocks and  moon

Final Thoughts on The Orville Season Three — What Went Wrong

Unlike Star Trek, which put conflicting opinions in the mouths of beloved characters, Orville 3 screams its opinions to the point of harming the story

What a terrible season! I remember watching the beginning episodes of The Orville and thinking the show wasn’t quite there yet but held promise. Sadly, things did not improve with time. I think part of the problem is that The Orville was taken over by Hulu which is now owned by Disney. This, likely, prompted a degree of studio involvement that dropped the show’s quality. The Orville tried to address controversial subjects, just as Star Trek did years before. But it did not understand or reproduce the most important ingredient of the way the classic sci-fi series dealt with such topics. Star Trek used its main characters as voices that represented various positions. This is not to say that Star Read More ›

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Man reading in the park

Will ChatGPT Replace Human Writers?

Some people think so. But maybe they’re mistaken about the purpose and nature of language

In the wake of the notorious ChatGPT chatbot from OpenAI, many are asking, “What’s going to happen to people who make their living as writers?” We’re talking journalists, novelists, academics, etcetera. It’s a valid question given the dexterity of the new technology. OpenAI’s DALL-E image generator poses the same question to visual artists. If a machine can generate a skillfully crafted piece of text or an image, the need for human writers and artists turns opaque. That is if we actually think artificial and natural intelligence are comparable competitors.   Cynics are claiming a doomsday for writers. Sean Thomas of the Spectator thinks doomsday is upon us. He wrote in a January 10th article, I’ve done writing of all kinds Read More ›

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Digital chatbot, robot application, conversation assistant, AI Artificial Intelligence concept.

Note to Parents: Grooming and Wokeness Are Embedded in Chatbots

With or without tuning, all AI chatbots are biased one way or another. AI without bias is like water without wet

First impressions of a person can be wrong. Further interactions can reveal disturbing personality warts. Contrary to initial impressions, we might find out they lie, they are disturbingly woke,  they can’t do simple math, their politics is on the extreme left, and they have no sense of humor or common sense.   I have just described Open AI’s GPT3 chatbot, ChatGPT. Initially, users are gobsmacked by the its performance. Its flashy prose responses to simple queries look amazing.  But become roommates with the chatbot for a few hours and its shortcomings become evident .  It can’t get its facts straight, can’t do simple math problems, hates Donald Trump, and is being groomed to be “woke.” Its performance warts are so numerous that Bradley Center Senior Fellow Gary N. Smith hoists a Read More ›

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3D illustration of Escher's inspired stairs

How Surreal Artist MC Escher Influenced Physicist Roger Penrose

Escher’s mathematical art was all the more remarkable because he had no formal training in mathematics

Last month, Robert Lawrence Kuhn interviewed eminent British mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose on a number of topics, including the influence of surrealist artist M. C. Escher (December 9, 2022/32:00 min). Here is a transcribed selection from the second part of the discussion in Part 1 above*, beginning around the 12-minute mark, with some notes: Robert Lawrence Kuhn: We talked about the impossible Penrose triangle which really opens up another area of your life in terms of visual representations of remarkable things. Penrose tiling really new ways of thing of seeing visual representation of fiery fundamental geometric and algebraic transformations and things. But what I wanted to ask you is, as youdeveloped that you had this interaction with the artist Read More ›

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the drawings from the ceiling of Altamira cave in Santillana Del Mar, Cantabria, Spain

Do Cave Paintings From 20,000 Years Ago Show Symbolic Writing?

In an article in the Cambridge Archeological Journal, researchers say they’ve deciphered the dots and Y’s among the animal paintings

London-based wood carving conservator Ben Bacon has, with academic colleagues, shaken up Ice Age paleontology by demonstrating that the marks on the 20,000-year-old cave paintings of animals found across Europe could be interpreted as a lunar calendar timing their reproductive cycles: Prof Paul Pettitt, of Durham University, said he was “glad he took it seriously” when Mr Bacon contacted him. “The results show that Ice Age hunter-gatherers were the first to use a systemic calendar and marks to record information about major ecological events within that calendar.” News, “Londoner solves 20,000-year Ice Age drawings mystery” at BBC (January 5, 2023) The paper is open access. Bacon had spent many hours both on the internet and in the British Library, studying Read More ›

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fantasy robot wedding couple

Orville Episode 10: You’ve Heard of Saving the Best for Last?

Well, decide for yourself if you think that’s what the writers did. Some of us would describe it in other terms

Episode 10 fails for many reasons, but it’s not the kind of terrible where the episode is so bad you can throw your head back and laugh. Not only is it bad; it’s boring. Mixed up scenes, clunky dialog, and pretentious diatribes spread through the story. The story opens with Moclans Bortus and Klyden renewing their vows. Apparently, the all-male Moclans have a ritual where they essentially run naked through the forest until the “dominate male” catches the “submissive male” and . . . I’ll let you use your imagination. This scene is painful to watch. Two overweight men shamble through the woods in G-strings and the viewer is subjected to every horrendous second. I’m sure you’re wondering, “what kind Read More ›

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Aerial view of Frankenstein Castle in southern Hesse, Germany

The Prophecies of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Andrew Klavan explores the world of the Romantics in new book and finds special insight in Shelley’s classic horror story

Andrew Klavan, acclaimed novelist and host of the Andrew Klavan Show at the Daily Wire, wrote a book about his profound encounters with the Romantics of the 19th century, called The Truth and Beauty: How the Lives and Works of England’s Greatest Poets Point the Way to a Deeper Understanding of the Words of Jesus. The Romantics include literary figures like Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and John Keats. While it’s common to highlight the Romantics’ veneration of nature, they were also living in the throes of the Enlightenment, in which atheistic materialism was becoming a minority alternative to theism. Klavan writes, “The wonderful success of science at explaining the material world threatens to create in scientists a bias towards Read More ›

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mini robot work

Can a Chatbot Tell Jokes. Yes, If They Are Stale

As chatbots sort through the vast mass of online information for appropriate responses to questions, jokes were bound to come up

Corinne Purtill reported a year ago at Time Magazine on Jon the Robot, a chatbot that was programmed to learn to tell stand-up comedy jokes: An experiment billed as a comedy act, Jon is the brainchild of Naomi Fitter, an assistant professor in the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Oregon State University. The tiny android performs when a handler (who must also hold the mic) presses a button, then tells the same jokes in the same order, like a grizzled veteran comic at a down-market Vegas casino. Corinne Purtill, “Artificial Intelligence Can Now Craft Original Jokes—And That’s No Laughing Matter” at Time 2030 (January 4, 2022) But the robot’s act is more human than it might first Read More ›

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tv studio camera recording male reporter or anchorman. Live broadcasting

Trend: Steeper Decline in TV, Hollywood — and Comic Books

It’s as if the public has simply lost the sense that the media represent the average watcher or reader — and that’s probably true in many cases

We’ve already noted the significant decline in circulation and collapse of trust in major newspapers (online or in print). But 2022 reported steep declines in other media as well. From the entertainment industry’s Variety mag, we learn that while there were some winners in TV — ESPN, crime shows, and digi-nets — most TV of all types continued to see losses, many of them double-digit losses. As commentator Don Surber noted, “The drop in viewers came despite an Olympics, a popular war and a federal election.” The drop in viewers is reflected in an overall drop in revenue, projected to continue. A highlight from Samba TV’s State of Viewership report: Gen Z and millennials are driving the shift away from Read More ›

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intellectual property. light bulb with chain

MIT Takes Steps Toward Meaningful Free Expression

The most significant line: "We cannot prohibit speech that some experience as offensive or injurious"

Anyone familiar with the campus scene today knows that many disciplines are dedicated to anything but open inquiry. The academy is full of true stories about Canceled profs and students. Not “failed” students and profs, notice, but Canceled. Massachusetts Institute Of Technology (the famous MIT) appears to be breaking the mold by adopting free speech principles by a faculty senate vote of 98 to 52. A key passage: At the intersection of the ideal of free expression and MIT community values lies the expectation of a collegial and respectful learning and working environment. We cannot prohibit speech that some experience as offensive or injurious. At the same time, MIT deeply values civility, mutual respect, and uninhibited, wide-open debate. In fostering Read More ›

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Abstract apocalyptic background - burning and exploding planet . digital art style, illustration painting

Should a Woman Die in Order to Save a Race of Robots?

In The Orville, Episode 9, Charly is confronted with that very choice

In Part 1 of my review of Orville Season Three, Episode 9, Charly and Isaac had invented a doomsday EMP device that can annihilate the robotic Kaylon. Ed doesn’t want to use the device to wipe out the entire robotic species because he thinks they are alive, though why he thinks so is never made clear. But, oh well. The Union decides to offer the Kaylon a peace treaty, and the robots accept the deal. However, unbeknownst to our heroes — such as they are — one member of the Union decides it would be better to destroy the Kaylon, and hands the device over to the humanoid Moclans and the reptilian Krill, who have recently formed an alliance. The Read More ›

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Ritual circle in the oldest temple of world - Gobeklitepe. October 2019.

Philosophers: Religion, Not Nature, Made Us Human

Victor Kumar and Richmond Campbell argue that many very ancient human types had human minds; religion is the missing ingredient

The philosophers who make this claim are not evangelists. Victor Kumar is director of the Mind and Morality Lab at Boston University and Richmond Campbell is the George Munro professor of philosophy emeritus at Dalhousie University. In an essay at IAI News, adapted from their book, A Better Ape: The Evolution of the Moral Mind and How it Made Us Human (Oxford University Press 2022), they argue that “it was the cultural institution of religion, and its ability to create large tribes, that made us into modern humans.” Sometimes there is a story in titles. The official title of this piece is “Nature didn’t make us human, culture did.” The subtitle is “How religion made us a successful species.” But Read More ›

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Is It Technically Genocide If We Kill a Planetful of Robots?

Orville Season 3, Episode 9, features an EMP-like device that could wipe out the robotic Kaylon

This is the best episode of the third season, but there was still plenty to question about the ethical underpinnings. The first scene shows the Krill’s Supreme Chancellor, Teleya, forming an alliance with the Moclans, who have just been ousted from the Union. This doesn’t make any sense. The Moclans hate women. Teleya is a woman. Now, the writers do take the time to address this discrepancy, but it’s a superficial attempt, and therefore, not enough to convince the viewer that this alliance could really happen. Stop and consider who the Moclans are: They don’t just have a bias against women. They hate women. So much so that they turn every child on their planet into a man. There is Read More ›

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Waiting for inspiration!

Will Chatbots Put Writers out of Business?

Some writers are saying yes. Machines can now do mediocre, run of the mill writing

As chatbots become more sophisticated, some writers predict that they will take over run-of-the-mill writing jobs that don’t need or attract much creativity. For example, copyright and plagiarism consultant Jonathan Bailey points out, “AI doesn’t have to be great, just good enough.” In 2017, five years ago, the Washington Post revealed that an AI bot named Heliograph had produced some 850 articles for the paper. However, those stories were for things such as local high school football games and financial reports. They were all short, formulaic and not worth sending a human reporter to. At the time, the stories had generated more than 500,000 clicks. In short, they were ridiculously successful, delivering information that was important and sought after, but Read More ›

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Flying bird of prey golden eagle with large wingspan, photo with snowflakes during winter, stone mountain, Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria wildlife. Eagle sunset. Eastern Rhodopes rock with eagle.

Neanderthal Man Had a Thing for Big Eagles — and Hyenas

But we haven’t found evidence that Neanderthals were much interested in dogs

Although technically a dog expert, Mark Derr has given some thought since the 1990s to Neanderthal man who seems to get smarter each time we study him: For instance, Neanderthal appears to have mastered and used fire for a variety of purposes including cooking after their appearance in Eurasia some 300,000 or more years ago. They also made carvings into ivory, and they almost certainly communicated using speech. To show how slowly attitudes change, I have recently seen people speculate that Neanderthal may have only seasonally had fire, but in general were incapable of igniting tinder on their own. This view recently received what would appear to be a mortal blow when Ceren Kabukcu and colleagues revealed that Neanderthal not Read More ›

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decisions

The Orville 3 8: The Writers Finally Figured Out Moral Ambiguity

Is it right to endanger the lives of many to save one? The Orville crew must confront that in the case of the Moclan girl Topa

Judging by my mixed emotions regarding the Episode 8 from Season 3, I’d say the writers did fairly well with tackling a morally ambiguous story. There are still problems, but nothing that damages the story. For once, the writers do not scream their opinions at the audience. They even chose two likable characters to act as surrogates for the opposing points of view. As the story opens, Topa wants to meet Heveena, the female Moclan who defended her in court when she was a baby and tried to prevent the all-male (by preference) race from turning her into a boy. Heveena was unable to convince the Moclans to spare Topa, but the young girl later learned the truth and was Read More ›

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Disintegrating reaching hands concept illustration in vaporwave style color palette isolated on blue background.

What is Art Without the Human Mind?

AI art tools can wow us with technical skill, but fail to generate meaning

There’s no doubt that tools like OpenAI can create impressive, detailed renderings of images. Type in “Master Yoda riding a musk ox in Taiwan” and you’ll get…something. A friend of mine sent me a two-headed bunny dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi and a few other comic horrors, and I knew he’d been playing around with an AI art tool. But, it doesn’t take much reflection to feel that something important is missing in these artificially generated images. Sure, they’re detailed and colorful, and accurate. You can type in a scene and have it pop up on command. However, what do actual human artists think of these tools, and what do they essentially miss? Artist Peter Mohrbacher gave a balanced assessment of Read More ›

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Graphic abstract butterfly escapes opening heart background

Orville: Isaac Gets To Be a Real Boy … for 30 seconds

Should he be given the opportunity to feel the painful emotions associated with his tragic circumstances? It's a dilemma that Dr. Finn does not seem to recognize

This episode was nowhere near as abysmal as Episode Six. Granted not much happened, but it does offer one interesting idea. There are three main stories going on at the same time, and two of them intersect. First, the Orville is attempting to make peace with a race of aliens called the Janisi, who are a matriarchal society. In order to open negotiations with the Janisi, the crew decides to gender swap the staff on the ship. This is played for laughs, as a kind of a gotcha to all men, but for me, none of the jokes really landed. The bits are mostly just Seth MacFarlane stumbling around while carrying a bunch of suitcases for this alien race. It’s Read More ›