Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryEthics

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A  jay in its beak holds an acorn. A colorful Eurasian jay sits on a thick oak branch. Close-up. Autumn. Natural blurred background.  Wild nature.

Researchers: More Intelligent Jays Show More Self-Control

The researchers say that the same relationship holds true for cuttlefish, chimpanzees, and humans

A recent study finds that Eurasian jays can pass a version of the “Marshmallow test” and that the smarter jays had the greatest self-control. The original Marshmallow test tested children to see if they could resist eating one marshmallow if they were offered two later. So enterprising researchers decided to try it on smart birds: To test the self-control of ten Eurasian jays, Garrulus glandarius, researchers designed an experiment inspired by the 1972 Stanford Marshmallow test — in which children were offered a choice between one marshmallow immediately, or two if they waited for a period of time. Instead of marshmallows, the jays were presented with mealworms, bread and cheese. Mealworms are a common favourite; bread and cheese come second Read More ›

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male in protective hazmat suit disinfect public isolated spaces, carrying barrels, pathogen respiratory quarantine coronavirus covid-19 concept

The Orville Episode 2: Bacterial Assimilation? — It Gets Messy

A ship that crew members investigate turns out to be a deadly mixture of mechanical — and organic — material

Episode 2 of Season 3 opens with the Orville crew beginning its negotiations with the Krill, an aggressive reptilian species that has joined a temporary alliance with the Planetary Union of flight-capable species to counter the new threat from the Kaylon, an artificially intelligent species. A Krill moment: The Orville group begin by discussing routes through the Krill territory, so the Union can explore the regions of space on the other side. The discussion grows tense when the admiral who has boarded the Orville for the negotiations, Admiral Paul Christie, mentions exploring the Kalarr Expanse (the “Shadow Realm”). The Krill become nervous about this request, telling Ed Mercer and Kelly Grayson, and Christie that demons dwell there. And that they Read More ›

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Neural networks of the human brain. 3d illustration of abstract nerve centers. Electrical impulses in brain. Bright full color

Rats with Human Brains? The Real Story About Brain Organoids

Human brain organoids use adult stem cells from volunteer donors; they bypass the use of fetal tissue from abortions

In Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy (2013) , the characters in the first book navigate a dystopian near-future with few ethical boundaries. Chicken has been genetically modified to be nothing more than meat and a mouth. For entertainment, they watch either pornography or televised executions. One of the central characters, the scientist who made the genetically engineered humans, ends up unleashing a synthetic pathogen intended to rid the world of evil. The excesses are reminiscent of Earth as described in the Flood narrative in the Bible (“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.” Genesis 6:11). As in the Biblical account, a “flood” occurs when the synthetic pathogen ends up killing most of humanity. The remaining Read More ›

bumblebee

Did the Court Really Say Bees Are Fish?

And would an AI-run court — which some propose — make a different decision? Not here because California law allows the interpretation

See headlines like: “Great Day” For Bumblebees as Californian Court Rules That They Are Fish and: Bees are fish, California court rules You’d believe, on reading them, that a California court recently ruled that bees are fish. Another eyeroll-worthy court decision! Readers here might muse, “An artificial intelligence-run legal system would never make such a crazy ruling!” The Seemingly Boring Narrow Issue Let’s skip past the exciting headlines. The California Court of Appeal in Almond Alliance of California v. Fish & Game Commission faced the issue of “whether the bumble bee, a terrestrial invertebrate, falls within the definition of fish, as that term is used in the definitions of endangered species, threatened species, and candidate species” under specific sections of Read More ›

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An advanced CPU printed with a flag of USA on a neon glowing electronic circuit board. Illustration of the concept of United States made high-end micro chips.

What Difference Has the CHIPS Act Made to the U.S. and Taiwan?

We need to first look at the broader picture of what the CHIPS Act is intended to do

In a previous article, I discussed the semiconductor industry and Taiwan’s supremacy in manufacturing microchips, the foundry portion of the semiconductor supply chain. Now let’s look at the U.S. perspective on the semiconductor industry and its relationship to Taiwan. In order to do that, we have to talk about the CHIPS+ Act Congress passed a bipartisan bill, the CHIPS and Science Act in July, after a year of negotiations in committee. President Biden signed the act into law on August 9 and the CHIPS Act Implementation Strategy was launched on September 6 through an executive order. CHIPS, or “Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors,” is a $250B initiative that incentivizes businesses to bring semiconductor manufacturing, research and innovation back to Read More ›

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Blockchain blocks and their hexadecimal hash values conceptual vizualization 3D render

Modern Bitcoin’s Surprising Lesson About Ancient Scripture

It turns out there’s a striking parallel between the historical record of scripture and the blockchain ledger

This article was published in The Stream (September 13, 2022) and is republished with permission. Can we trust the authenticity of the New Testament scriptures? Trust is foundational in the acceptance of scripture. There’s an interesting lesson to learn from a very modern system of trust: money. Even Bitcoin, believe it or not. An Exchange of Trust We’ll start with old-fashioned familiar money. Why is a twenty dollar bill worth $20? It’s just a small sheet of paper, after all. The answer is trust. We trust the piece of paper has value because its worth is backed by the United States government. We also trust that Walmart will give us $20 worth of Doritos if we give them a twenty Read More ›

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Army Aerospace Engineers Work On Unmanned Aerial Vehicle / Drone. Uniformed Aviation Experts Talk, Using Laptop. Industrial Facility with Aircraft for: Surveillance, Warfare Tactics, Air Strike

Marks Tells Medved: Top Gun (2022) Is Way Out of Date

Computer science prof Robert J. Marks argues in Non-Computable You, that in the 21st century, drones offer significant advantages over fighter pilots

In the “Top Gun, HAL 9000, and Jobs of the Future” podcast (September 15, 2022), WBC director Robert J. Marks discusses a theme from his new book Non-Computable You with talk show host Michael Medved: Can drones should replace pilots in warfare? Dr. Marks, a professor of computer engineering at Baylor University, is also the author of The Case for Killer Robots: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/09/Mind-Matters-Episode-204-Robert-J-Marks.mp3 A partial transcript, notes, and Additional Resources follow. Michael Medved: Why shouldn’t we be able to replace all those hotshot pilots, like the ones being trained in the movie Top Gun: Maverick — one of the most successful movies ever made, by the way, in terms of its box office receipts? That’s showing pilots doing death-defying, astonishing Read More ›

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Cheating on a Test

Study: AI Fails To Catch Cheaters on an Exam

In a test of the Proctorio system, students who were told to try to cheat found a variety of ways to fool the system

Is AI the answer to student cheating on tests? Not that you’d know it from a recent study of AI detection system Proctorio at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. Proctorio tracks students’ eye movements and body language while taking exams to flag “suspicious” behavior. So, as Vice tells it, 30 computer science student volunteers were told to take a first year exam that that system supervised. Six were told to cheat, five were told to act suspiciously without really cheating, and the rest were told to just write the test: The results confirmed that Proctorio is not good at catching cheaters. The system did not flag any of the cheaters as cheating. Some used virtual machines, a known Read More ›

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Macro image of a motherboard with the inscription

How Safe Is Our Tech If It Depends on Non-Free Nations?

Europe’s energy woes, in the wake of the Russia–Ukraine war, should spur us to take the question seriously

Keith Krach, former chairman and CEO of Docusign, the app that enables you to conveniently buy a house in Delaware while selling one in Oregon, is speaking at COSM (November 9–11 in Seattle). Docusign was of immense help during the COVID pandemic when in-person transactions were often impractical, illegal, or just impossible. Go here to get the Early Adopter rate before September 15. Krach, former Under Secretary of State and current Chairman of the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue University, has been thinking a good deal about our future and new technology. He is committed to the importance of rehoming technology Americans need in the United States, as he told Fierce Electronics recently: Our adversaries, starting with the Read More ›

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Person Reaching Through Broken Window Towards Helping Hand

Atheists Who Scold Us on Morality Acknowledge God’s Existence

For example, every time internet-famous atheist P. Z. Myers scolds humanity on morality and immorality, he demonstrates the point

P.Z. Myers detests challenges to his atheism based on the reality of Objective Moral Law: There is a common line of attack Christians use in debates with atheists, and I genuinely detest it. It’s to ask the question, “where do your morals come from?” I detest it because it is not a sincere question at all — they don’t care about your answer, they’re just trying to get you to say that you do not accept the authority of a deity, so that they can then declare that you are an evil person because you do not derive your morals from the same source they do, and therefore you are amoral. It is, of course, false to declare that someone Read More ›

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Woman in bedroom terrified by big spider crawling over her bed

Should Spider Dreaming Really Give Us “Ethical Pause”?

The incidental discovery of REM sleep in spiders is morphing into vast claims that we have “urgent and inexorable ethical obligations” to them and other life forms

Anyone familiar with the current “animal consciousness” scene might have seen this one coming. At The Scientist, we learned earlier this month that animals dream, according to researcher David M. Peña-Guzmán. Recently, it was spiders that were found to dream. Therefore, it is now implied, human and animal consciousness do not differ very much: In When Animals Dream, I argue that the mere fact that animals dream poses a formidable challenge to that bastion of traditionalism that is the human-animal divide, raising provocative ethical questions about the status of animals as moral subjects toward whom we have urgent and inexorable ethical obligations. This fact also frustrates the common view that only humans are “cognitively free” because only we can liberate Read More ›

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belly of a pregnant woman

Google Employees Demand Corporate War on Crisis Pregnancy Centers

The recent Dobbs decision returning abortion legislation to the states has also spurred abortion activists to violence against pro-life crisis pregnancy centers

Recently, in a petition circulated by the Alphabet Workers Union, 650 Google employees asked the firm to suppress search results for pro-life crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) “by removing results for fake abortion providers” as well as to stop collecting users’ data on abortion-related searches. Yelp has already doubled down against the centers: As the linked story notes, Yelp has decided to flag them with a “consumer notice,” warning users that “Crisis Pregnancy Centers typically provide limited medical services and may not have licensed medical professionals onsite” (translation: no abortionists on staff). Utilizing the common leftist tactic of accusing people who express a different view of dispensing “misinformation,” Yelp said in a statement that “it’s been well-reported” (well… “reported”) “that crisis Read More ›

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Robot dog delivering pizza. 3D illustration

New AI Institute Aims at “World’s Smartest” Intelligent Machines

Boston Dynamics’ Marc Raibert thinks they’ll make progress at machines that think like humans if they keep at it long enough

Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics recently announced the launch of the Boston Dynamics AI Institute, with more than US $400 million to start. Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert is to head it up, for the purpose of “creating future generations of advanced robots and the world’s smartest and most capable intelligent machines.” Boston Dynamics, founded in 1992, is already famous for its robot dogs: Raibert has bigger plans for smarter robots, as he detailed in a recent interview, as he told Evan Ackerman at IEEE Spectum: The new thing that’s clearly different from what Boston Dynamics is doing, is to make robots smarter, in the sense that they need to be able to look at the world around them Read More ›

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The girl hugs the basenji dog.

Animal Mind — Can You Clone Your Beloved Pet’s Personality?

People who can charge a great deal for cloning insist that the personality is not cloned… so why do it?

Michael Egnor has noted that the famous philosopher René Descartes (1596–1650) thought that animals were biological machines that did not have minds at all. Many arguments can be mustered against that view but the recent development of animal cloning may prove a new one. Barbra Streisand brought attention to the business of cloning deceased pets when she had her dog Samantha cloned in 2018 (though the process had been available for more than a decade). The cost? US$35,000 for a cat, $50,000 for a dog, and $85,000 for a horse. That’s hardly spare change yet, we are told, some less well-heeled folk will put off a new car or down payment to bring back a deceased companion: Kelly Anderson never Read More ›

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Macro of a bumblebee collecting nectar on flower

Bees Feel Pain. And Therefore… Insect Rights?

As we learn more from research about how various life forms respond to experiences, a more complex picture may raise political issues

From an online newsletter from Vox writer Kenny Torrella, we learn of a research study confirming that bumblebees feel pain: In a study published last week in the journal PNAS, researchers in the United Kingdom found that bees make trade-offs about how much pain they’re willing to tolerate in order to get better food. The finding suggests bees aren’t just mindless automata responding to stimuli but rather conscious, feeling creatures that can experience pain and engage in complex decision-making. Kenny Torrella, “Can a bee feel,” Vox (August 5, 2022) The paper is open access. Essentially, the researchers offered bumblebees sugar water in color-cued unheated containers, at solutions of 10%, 20%, 30%, or 40%. Then they introduced a catch: They heated Read More ›

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humanoid head as concept for Artificial Intelligence, future generations of humans, technology singularity, cyberlife and digitally created personas

Could We Really Increase Human IQ via Genetic Engineering?

One suggested approach is to only implant “intelligent” human embryos and discard the rest, to avoid editing individual genes

At Big Think, we have been told by the managing editor, in a tone of considerable confidence: Because intelligence is such a strong genetic trait, rapidly advancing genetics research could result in the ability to create a class of super-intelligent humans one-thousand times higher in IQ than today’s most brilliant thinkers. Stephen Hsu, Vice-President for Research and Professor of Theoretical Physics at Michigan State University, believes we are only a decade away from identifying the many thousands of genetic variants that control for intelligence. These variants, called alleles, could then be selected for by the parents of a soon-to-be-conceived child, and possibly genetic engineering could be done on adults to boost their intelligence. Orion Jones, “Genetic Engineering Will Create Super-Intelligent Read More ›

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Fantasy landscape with fog, water and stone.

The Only Mad People In Dr. Strange’s Multiverse Are The Writers

We don’t know why Wanda has morphed into a villain or why good and evil have become morally equivalent

On our last delve into the Multiverse of Madness (2022), we followed Dr. Strange to Wanda Maximoff’s house. As the scene opens, it is clear that, controversially, Wanda has faced no repercussions for the events depicted in WandaVision. (2021). Tragically, Wanda has chosen to follow the words of the Dark hold — and those of us who watched WandaVision on Disney Plus will never get to see her struggle. So we don’t understand why she chose to listen to the words of the book. Nothing is accounted for. Wanda is just bad now, and we must accept it. Except — this is and isn’t true at the same time. On the one hand, the writers want us to understand that Read More ›

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Organoids in petri dish .  Few distributed on growing medium. 3d illustration rendering

Lab-Grown Brains Are Closer Now. Should They Have Rights?

A new neuroscience research area raises as much concern as excitement: growing mini “human brains” in a lab. The excitement is the prospect of better understanding and treatment of dementia, autism, and motor neuron disease (ALS). The concern is that they will become sentient, capable of feeling. Then what? Starting in 2008, researchers learned that they could coax human stem cells to self-organize into “brainlike structures with electrically active neurons.” Although the cell clusters behave, to some extent, like human embryos, they are not human embryos but skin cells from an adult. That limits the ethical conflict in that the research does not depend on the abortion industry. But ethical issues crop up anyway as groups of cells become more Read More ›

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Fresh uncut octopus on the market. Seafood counter in Sri Lanka.

If Octopuses Are Really Smart, Should We Eat Them?

Proposals to farm octopuses are meeting with opposition on grounds of animal cruelty

Extraordinary recent science discoveries re octopus intelligence have created an ethical dilemma: Octopus arms (tentacles) are gourmet delicacies in Korea, Japan, and the Mediterranean countries and many poor people make a living providing them. Factory farming is of octopuses is slowly becoming practical. But should we do to them what we wouldn’t do to dogs? Octopuses present something of a puzzle. As Canadian investigative journalist Erin Anderssen pointed out earlier this month, “The octopus has already challenged our theories on evolution, intelligence and consciousness.” Evolution? We have tended to assume that intelligence rose with the development of a spinal cord and brain (vertebrates), and warmbloodedness (mammals and birds). So invertebrates like octopuses were expected to be “naturally” less intelligent than, Read More ›

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Girl before a doors

Michael Egnor: If Evil Exists, So Must Good — and Real Choices!

In the podcast, he explains, denial of free will doesn’t mean that there is no guilt but rather that there is no innocence

In a podcast aired July 8, 2022, geoscientist Casey Luskin and neurosurgeon Michael Egnor explore “Evolution and the disturbing consequences of denying free will.” One consequence they look at is pre-crime, that is, treating people who are thought likely to commit an offence as if they had already done so. A partial transcript and notes follows. The podcast is here. Casey Luskin: In the previous podcast, Dr. Egnor, you mentioned how, once somebody denies free will, they really lose the ability to condemn any action that a human takes as morally evil. Everything we did in their view is determined by the forces of nature, and really nobody ought to be at fault for having done anything. These arguments have, Read More ›