Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryEthics

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denim jean production

In China, Forced Uyghur Labor Produces Many Fashionable Products

Industries such as fashion and solar panels rely heavily on supplies from detention centers and concentration camps in China

China has been called the “world’s factory.” American companies like Apple, may assemble their tech in the U.S., but the parts are made elsewhere, including Xinjiang, China (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region). Industries such as fashion and solar panels also rely heavily on Xinjiang for their supply lines. Reports from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies in the U.S., as well as testimonials from Uyghurs, show that many such factories in Xinjiang involve the forced labor of Uyghurs in what are called “vocational training schools.” These vocational training schools are more appropriately described as detention centers. In many cases, they are essentially concentration camps. Many Uyghurs are also sent from Xinjiang to other…

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the toss

Spot and Choose: Fair Play is Uniquely Human

How snake drafts, cake cuts, and queues exemplify human uniqueness

In the National Basketball Association All-Star exhibition game that was played yesterday, Team LeBron defeated Team Durant by a score of 170-150. The captains (LeBron James and Kevin Durant, both pictured) had taken turns choosing players for their teams. LeBron got the first pick (Giannis Antetokounmpo), Durant the second (Steph Curry), LeBron the third (Luka Doncic), and so on. The talent is so uniform among the top two dozen NBA players that there is no real advantage to choosing first or second: any given player is arguably as good or better than the player chosen before him. In addition, the game is just an exhibition intended to entertain the fans with spectacular offensive plays, while the defense mainly tries to…

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Bangkok, Thailand 25 AUG 2020. Men hand using digital tablet for search information on Google.  Wireless Smartphone technology with intelligence search engine.

Another AI Ethics Head at Google Gets Fired Over Diversity Issues

The AI ethics team and Google management may have very different ideas about what “ethics” means

On February 19, Google fired Margaret Mitchell, the AI ethics co-lead at Google Brain. Mitchell’s co-leading colleague, Timnit Gebru, had been fired in December, amid controversy. Both women were critical of Google’s diversity hiring record during the two years they worked together. The flashpoint in Mitchell’s case, for which she had been temporarily suspended earlier, hinged on claims of unauthorized use of files: In a statement, a Google spokesperson said Mitchell had shared “confidential business-sensitive documents and private data of other employees” outside the company. After Mitchell’s suspension last month, Google said activity in her account had triggered a security system. A source familiar with Mitchell’s suspension said she had been using a script to search her email for material…

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Closeup of ill blond senior woman sitting at home and taking oxygen from respirator while nurse with protective mask on sitting next to her and holding her hand during corona virus.

Explosive New Information About New York’s Mass COVID Deaths

In a video conference, perhaps accidentally, a health official blurted out the deadly policy and the reasoning behind it

In November, I wrote about the horrendous consequences of the official directive issued March 25, 2020 by senior New York State officials that required nursing homes to admit residents regardless of their COVID-19 status. In fact, the directive prohibited testing residents prior to admission: No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the NH solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. NHs are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission. [underline in original]. The officials responsible are Governor Andrew Cuomo (pictured), Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Howard Zucker, and Deputy Commissioner Sally Dreslin. Despite public outrage and strong media criticism, their order…

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Newborn premature baby in the NICU intensive care

Do Babies Really Feel Pain Before They Are Self-Aware?

Michael Egnor discusses the fact that the thalamus, deep in the brain, creates pain. The cortex moderates it. Thus, juveniles may suffer more

In last week’s podcast, “Jonathan Wells on Why a Baby Should Live,” neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviewed molecular and cell biologist Jonathan Wells on that topic, which he discussed in articles at Evolution News and Science Today: (here and here). It’s becoming a hot topic now that a bill to protect babies born alive from abortions from being killed or left to die was recently defeated in the Senate. At the heart of the issue is the conflict between those who believe that all human beings have a right to life and those who believe that children do not have a right to live before they are self-aware. In this segment, Egnor and Wells ask another question: whether a child can…

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Cute Baby Lying On Tummy In Parent's Bed

Is There Bias in Terms of Which Babies Are Aborted?

Abortion is made easy for Black American women, with abortion clinics strategically located within easy walking distance

In last week’s podcast, “Jonathan Wells on Why a Baby Should Live,” neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviewed molecular and cell biologist Jonathan Wells on that topic, which he discussed in articles at Evolution News and Science Today: (here and here). It’s becoming a hot topic now that a bill to protect babies born alive from abortions from being killed or left to die was recently defeated in the Senate. At the heart of the issue is the conflict between those who believe that all human beings have a right to life and those who believe that children do not have a right to live before they are self-aware. In this segment, Egnor and Wells ask, why are Black American abortion rates…

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In vitro image of a human fetus in the womb

When Does “Human-ness” Really Begin?

Jonathan Wells notes that issues around “personhood” are now purely semantic, especially when the case is being made that many animals are persons too

In last week’s podcast, “Jonathan Wells on Why a Baby Should Live,” neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviewed molecular and cell biologist Jonathan Wells on that topic, which he has discussed in articles at Evolution News and Science Today: (here and here). It’s becoming a hot topic now that a bill to protect babies born alive from abortions from being killed or left to die was recently defeated in the Senate. At the heart of the issue is the conflict between those who believe that all human beings have a right to life and those who believe that children do not have a right to live before they are self-aware. In unpacking the issues, Egnor and Wells turned to the question of…

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Newborn Alert Baby Boy on Mint Green Blanket

Do Infants Really Have a Right to Live?

Some argue that children who are not yet self-aware do not have a right to live

In last week’s podcast, “Jonathan Wells on Why a Baby Should Live,” neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviewed molecular and cell biologist Jonathan Wells on that topic, which he discussed in articles at Evolution News and Science Today: (here and here). It’s becoming a hot topic now that a bill to protect babies born alive from abortions from being killed or left to die was recently defeated in the Senate. There is an academic debate about whether babies, post-birth, have a right to live. Meanwhile, a number of countries are also moving toward child euthanasia, with or without parental consent as well. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-120-Jonathan-Wells.mp3 A partial transcript follows. This portion begins at 01:13. Show notes and links follow. Michael Egnor: Where did that…

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Propaganda and brainwashing of the influential mass media concept. Vintage TV set with hypnotic spiral on the screen.

Contradictory Beliefs Are a Feature, Not Bug, of Critical Theory

As a historian of totalitarianism has pointed out, “The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to form any.”

“Intersectionality” is the claim by critical theorists that various kinds of oppression against victim groups intersect, in the sense that all oppression ultimately has the same source — you. In an essay at Substack titled “Intersectionality Has Hit the Stop Sign,” Tom Knighton argues, too optimistically in my view, that intersectionality is falling victim to its own contradictions. I believe he misunderstands the nature of the problem. Let me explain why. He cites the example of women’s rights vs. trans rights. A major victory for women’s rights is all-female sports, which allow women to compete without having to overcome the natural physical advantages of men. A major victory for trans rights is to allow men who identify as women to…

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Street Signs

Why “Critical Theory” Might Shape Your Life Going Forward

Critical Theory has begun to rule the public square and we need to understand it

2020 was the year that Critical Theory came to dominate culture in America. It ruled academia for a half century but only in the past year has it begun to rule the American public square as well. Perhaps you’re not interested in Critical Theory but Critical Theory is interested in you. It behooves us to understand it better, because it will be a central theme in American culture for the foreseeable future. For readers who are not familiar with it, I provide here a synopsis. There is a connection to Darwinism at the heart of Critical Theory, as we will see. Critical theory is, at its root, cultural Marxism. It emerged from the failure of Leninism to capture the hearts…

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Teddy bear and toys in a baby's room

Why Medical Device Companies Use Priorities Created by Toy Makers

The priorities followed by product developers arise from the ontology they use

The priorities of product development teams arise from the ontology, the beliefs about the nature of reality, they follow. One of the greatest values of defining that ontology is to identify blind spots and wrong assumptions. When the source of priorities is clear, improved, more adaptable options become possible. As Clayton Christensen (1952–2020, pictured) has said: To grow profit margins and revenue, he observes, such companies tend to develop products to satisfy the demands of their most sophisticated customers. As successful as this strategy may be, it means that those companies also tend to ignore opportunities to meet the needs of less sophisticated customers — who may eventually form much larger markets. A hierarchy of products starts with the components,…

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Cybernetic Brain. Electronic chip in form of human brain in electronic cyberspace. Illustration on the subject of 'Artificial Intelligence'.

#7 AI Smash Hit: Why AI Can’t Do Your Thinking for You

Robert J. Marks: you change a pixel or two in an image and the deep convolutional neural network is totally wrong

Our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks is back with Jonathan Bartlett and Eric Holloway, assessing their Top Ten real advances (“Smash Hits”) in AI in 2020. Readers may recall that we offered a fun series during the holidays about the oopses and ums and ers in the discipline (typically hyped by uncritical sources). So now we celebrate the real achievements and our nerds think that #7 is honest recognition of the vulnerabilities of machine learning. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-116-Jonathan-Bartlett-Eric-Holloway.mp3 Our story begins at 19:37. Here’s a partial transcript. (Show Notes and Additional Resources follow, along with a link to the complete transcript.) Robert J. Marks:Hacking AI and exposing vulnerabilities in machine learning? What’s going on here Eric? Eric Holloway: AI suffers…

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Aphrodisiac pill for libido and sexual drive

Can a Hormone Explain Why Humans Love Each Other?

Some researchers think they have zeroed in on an explanation, oxytocin

Some researchers have been trying to understand why mothers love their children: When it comes to biological mechanisms of empathy, scientists are particularly interested in oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone.” High oxytocin levels predict sensitive parenting, but it isn’t clear how the oxytocin-related gene might generate variation in empathy and parental behavior. One possible explanation is epigenetic changes to the gene — a way of altering gene function without changing the actual DNA sequence. Specifically, “DNA methylation” — the addition of a chemical group called the “methyl” group at specific locations — in the oxytocin gene (called OXT) has been associated with personality traits and brain structure in humans. This raises a question: can methylation of OXT influence empathy in…

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Close Up Of Granddaughter Hugging Grandmother In Park

Some Scientists Struggle With Why There Are Grandmothers

Why do humans live to be old when most animals don’t? Pop psychology weighs in

Pop science specialist Alison Gopnik, author of several books, including The Philosophical Baby (2010) and Scientist in the Crib (1999) explains grandmothers: On an evolutionary timescale, Homo sapiens emerged only quite recently. Yet in that short time, we have evolved a particularly weird life history, with a much longer childhood and old age than other animals. In particular, we’re very different from our closest primate relatives. By at least age seven, chimpanzees provide as much food as they consume, and they rarely live past 50 – there’s no chimp equivalent of human menopause. Even in forager cultures, where growing up is accelerated, children aren’t self-sufficient until they’re at least 15. What’s more, even in communities without access to modern medicine,…

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robot working with digital display

Can Robots Be Less Biased Than Their Creators?

We often think of robots as mindless but the minds of their creators are behind them

In some ways, it’s an odd question. Many of us would think of a robot as the opposite of bias. But the reality is that, because everything the robot is and does is a consequence of human actions, a robot could in fact be very biased. How will we know? Some AI developers are attempting to deal with this question: Last summer, hundreds of A.I. and robotics researchers signed statements committing themselves to changing the way their fields work. One statement, from the organization Black in Computing, sounded an alarm that “the technologies we help create to benefit society are also disrupting Black communities through the proliferation of racial profiling.” Another manifesto, “No Justice, No Robots,” commits its signers to…

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King and queen playing cards

Deepfake of Queen’s Christmas Message Highlights Era of Fake News

The concept is actually an old one and we are not helpless against such deceptions

Elizabeth II is among the longest-serving constitutional monarchs in history (1953–). Britain’s edgy Channel 4 tested the waters with a deepfake Christmas address: In Commonwealth countries like Canada, it is a longstanding custom to listen to Elizabeth’s Christmas Address. So how did the fake fare?: If you have bad eyesight and limited hearing, you might, might, be fooled by the fake Queen on a busy Christmas day. But by the time she starts talking about Netflix and launches into a dance routine, you’d surely know something’s up. Channel 4 makes little effort to hide its deception, but that hasn’t stopped some critics from expressing discomfort with the stunt. Rhett Jones, “First Deepfake Address from the Queen of England Makes Its…

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Giving a helping hand.

And Walter Bradley Reached Out His Hand …

J. P. Moreland recalls Walter Bradley, who was there when it really mattered

In the Foreword to For a Greater Purpose, philosopher J. P. Moreland recalls an incident when both he and Walter Bradley were young football players: I had never suffered a concussion in my life, but there I was, laying on my back in the middle of a field, with a twilight wooziness that made me want to faint. Suddenly, I noticed a hand enter my cloudy visual field and a voice asked me how many fingers he was holding up. Three, I said, and as I did, I began to come out of it. I was able to see to whom the hand belonged: Butch (we used to call him that) Bradley! … Walter Bradley reached out his hand to…

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Multi-ethnic group of people standing in row and wearing masks at polling station on election day

How Electoral Fraud Is Different From Financial Fraud

Money can be moved around safely but votes must be credited to a single intended destination

(Recently, we’ve been asking readers to think about Alice and Bob, the famous pair in physics used to demonstrate propositions in a variety of contexts but, just for now, let’s look at how Alice’s vote might be stolen, as opposed to funds from her account being stolen. What would help prevent that? This is Bernard Fickser’s view:) The role of the voter in the electoral context has no parallel in the financial context. As a result, a significant difference exists in the roles of financial Alice and Bob versus electoral Alice and Bob. In the financial context, Alice, Bob and others like them (Carol, David, Earnest, etc.) are financial agents that consciously move money, or capital, among themselves. In the…

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SEO symbol  on the keyboard of a latop, 3d rendering,conceptual image. online  google and search concepts.

Why Are 38 American States Suing Google?

Better question: What search engine results do you NEVER see?

The current lawsuit was announced by Colorado’s Attorney General Phil Weiser but 38 states are signatories. The big issue is alleged suppression of competition. First, a bit of background: This is not the first big time lawsuit. That one would be from the U.S. Department of Justice in October: In October, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Google, owned by Alphabet, for violating antitrust laws and actively enabling a monopoly in search engines and search advertising. The announcement followed a year’s worth of investigation by prosecutors, who “have spoken with Google’s rivals in technology and media, collecting information and documents that could be used to build a case.” The suit focuses on the tech giant’s illegal actions…

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african american citizen voting near stand with vote lettering

What If Voters Could Sue for Lost or Altered Ballots?

Let’s look at the difference between what happens with financial fraud and electoral fraud

Recently, we’ve been asking readers to think about Alice and Bob, the famous pair in physics used to demonstrate propositions in a variety of contexts but, just for now. Let’s look at how Alice might be able to detect financial fraud, courtesy the blog Expensivity. Fraudster Frank can cheat Financial Alice. But how does she know? Bernard Fickser asks us to consider two ways… and to ask, what if it involves stealing her vote? 1.The money just disappeared. In this case there would be no record of any authorization by Alice, or by someone impersonating Alice, or by any bank official that she disbursed the funds. This would represent a cybersecurity failure on the part of the bank, and the…