Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryGlobal Technology

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Businessman hand holding tablet and Yuan currency sign on digital map backgroung.Chinese Yuan digital currency and circuit background.Technology digital Financial and china cryptocurrency concept.

Why China Is Making a Bold Gamble With Digital Currency

“Controllable anonymity” means that all transactions between individuals are visible to the People’s Bank and trackable by the Chinese government

Last week, China announced the national rollout of the electronic yuan, a plan in the works since 2014. The e-CNY* or Digital Currency Electronics Payment (DCEP) was piloted last year in four major Chinese cities: The digital yuan resides in cyberspace, available on the owner’s mobile phone — or on a card for the less tech-savvy — and spending it doesn’t strictly require an online connection. It appears on a screen with a silhouette of Mao Zedong, looking just like the paper money. In tests in recent months, more than 100,000 people in China have downloaded a mobile-phone app from the central bank enabling them to spend small government handouts of digital cash with merchants, including Chinese outlets of Starbucks…

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Silicon microchip on fingertip

Why the Global Shortage in Computer Chips Matters to You

What? A global shortage in chips? Delays? Higher costs? Whatever happened to Moore’s Law?

Read on. Moore’s Law only holds when chip supply isn’t an issue. Just now, the microchips that make every electronic device work are in short supply. The COVID-19 pandemic and unexpectedly cold weather in Texas temporarily closed chip factories. As news of the shortage spread, “panic buying” cleaned out inventory. Several other factors drive a continuing shortage as well: – The switch to 5G phones is increasing chip demand, leading to delays: Even the mighty Apple, a $2tn company and the world’s biggest buyer of semiconductors spending $58bn annually, was forced to delay the launch of the much-hyped iPhone 12 by two months last year due to the shortage. Mark Sweney, “Global shortage in computer chips ‘reaches crisis point’” at…

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Huge smoke clouds on sky background

Cloud Computing? There’s a Lot of Smoke in Those Clouds

Big Tech creates many environment issues that we do not often hear about, the way we hear about coal mines and landfills

When we think about environment problems, we naturally imagine huge smokestacks turning the sky dark and coating the trees with soot. But glitzy high tech stuff like cloud computing and cryptocurrency use a lot of energy too. Cloud computing, where we use computing resources via the internet without installing and maintaining them, is a huge energy hog we never see: The music video for “Despacito” set an Internet record in April 2018 when it became the first video to hit five billion views on YouTube. In the process, “Despacito” reached a less celebrated milestone: it burned as much energy as 40,000 U.S. homes use in a year. Naomi Xu Elegant, “The Internet Cloud Has a Dirty Secret” at Fortune (September…

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Young male employee in industrial espionage concept

Why Do Huawei’s “Inventions” Look Oddly Familiar?

One former Motorola employee was arrested at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago with more than 1,000 documents, on her way to Beijing on a one-way ticket
Earlier we looked at how Huawei stole intellectual property from Canada’s once world-class Nortel, which most likely led to the company’s demise. But Nortel wasn’t the only company that Huawei targeted. Read More ›
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Young girl playing with dolphin in Xel-ha park, Rivera Maya, Mexico

The Surprising Role Dolphins Have Played in the Search for ET

Dolphins, with their apparent alien intelligence, have been seen by scientists interested in ET as a stand-in

In a recent essay, Thomas Moynihan, a researcher with Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, puts the explosion of interest in dolphin intelligence in context: It began during the Space Race (1957–1998) — which helped fuel and fund the search for extraterrestrial intelligences. Its development also coincided withe Cold War (1946–1991) between the US and the USSR. In 1961, amid the growing tensions, neuroscientist John C. Lilly claimed that he had made contact with the first “alien” intelligence. But, as Moynihan says, Lilly “wasn’t talking about little green men from Tau Ceti, he was talking of minds much closer to home: bottlenose dolphins.” Why dolphins? As Moynihan recounts, from ancient times, mariners knew that dolphins were intelligent and modern zoologists like…

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Arrested man handcuffed hands at the back

How China’s “Hostage Diplomacy” Traps Unsuspecting Visitors

Canada’s “Two Michaels” await their fate in prison in China, hostages to the growing tensions in a high-tech war

Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor (pictured) and former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig were arrested in China in 2018 on charges of espionage and sharing state secrets, and held in prison since then. Spavor’s trial was on March 19, 2021, in Dandong near China’s border with North Korea. Kovrig’s trial was on March 22 in Beijing. As of this writing, no verdict has been announced. Their trials coincided with the U.S-China Summit in Anchorage, Alaska, on March 18 and 19, 2020, which involved a tense back-and-forth between the two countries. Court proceedings were closed-door and Spavor’s and Kovrig’s lawyers were not allowed to be present. That, according to Canada’s deputy chief of mission in China, violates the Canada-China consular agreement. Prime Minister…

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hand of scientist holding flask with lab glassware in chemical laboratory background, science laboratory research and development concept

A Question Every Scientist Dreads: Has Science Passed the Peak?

Gregory Chaitin worries about the growth of bureaucracy in science: You have to learn from your failures. If you don’t fail, it means you’re not innovating enough

In this week’s podcast, “The Chaitin Interview III: The Changing Landscape for Mathematics,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed mathematician and computer scientist Gregory Chaitin on many things, including whether the great discoveries in science are behind us — not due to lack of creativity or ability on the part of scientists — but to the growing power of corporate and government bureaucracies to stifle research. But then a question arises: Could science, succumbing to the swamp of bureaucracy, be losing that inventive edge? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-126-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This portion begins at 24:56 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Gregory Chaitin: What did an airplane engineers say once in a speech I heard? He said, “In the…

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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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Ring fire in black

AI profs: Beware “Black Ball” Tech That Could Destroy the Planet

Oxford Future of Humanity researchers contemplate a technology with immense destructive powers that is easy to access and use

Nick Bostrom and Matthew van der Merwe of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute offer a sticky question: What if we invented a “black ball” technology, one that destroyed human civilization? In the wake of Hiroshima, many people predicted that nuclear technologies would destroy the world. Albert Einstein is purported to have said, “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” However, say Bostrom and van der Merwe, to make nuclear technology work for you, you need to be a nuclear physicist. One might add that radioactive materials also “send messages.” Figuring out what untrusted actors are doing with nukes did not prove to be…

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New York, NY - MARCH, 2019: Deepfake Face Manipulation of Asian Male

Today’s Russian Diplomacy: Deepfakes and Radioactive Poisons

Because deepfakes are getting harder to spot, American news platforms waste time and energy trying to root them out

In a recent podcast, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks hosted Denise Simon, an intelligence analyst, talking about the way hostile foreign powers can use AI to generate false information. Denise Simon discusses both deepfake attacks—and some much more sinister ones. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-119-Denise-Simon.mp3 A partial transcript follows. This portion begins at about 17:50. Show notes and links follow. Denise Simon: That [the Maskirovka Technique of deception and deepfakes] is another component of how we try to decipher what’s real coming out of the Kremlin and what isn’t real. And even if it isn’t real, what consequences it has on influence and activities. Robert J. Marks: One of the things that Russia is invested in is artificial intelligence. Vladimir Putin has…

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Binary digits stolen computer data, cyber attack threat

How Russia Uses New Tech to Create Chaos in the United States

Information warfare is part of the new Russian warfare strategy known as the Gerasimov and Primakov doctrines

In last Thursday’s podcast, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks hosted Denise Simon, an intelligence analyst, talking about the way hostile foreign powers can use AI to generate false information. Denise Simon describes that and other techniques as a “new art form” and this time she explains how Russia uses it against the United States. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-119-Denise-Simon.mp3 A partial transcript follows. This portion begins at about 09.33. Show notes and links follow. Robert J. Marks: We’ve been talking primarily about disrupting media with fake news. What other sort of things are the Russians doing? Denise Simon: They will create fake companies in the United States. They will hide money and people in the United States. In fact, they just found…

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Kashgar, China - with more than 80% of the population made by Uyghurs, Kashgar displays a lot of Islamic landmarks. Here in particular the Id Kah Mosque, the biggest mosque in China

Leaked Police Database: Total Surveillance of China’s Uyghurs

Human Rights Watch notes that many countries engage in human rights abuses, but “more than any other government, Beijing has made technology central to its repression.”

Human Rights Watch has released its 2021 annual report of global human rights abuses in 2020. In his keynote article, Executive Director Kenneth Roth said “this has been the darkest period for human rights in China since the 1989 massacre that ended the Tiananmen Square democracy movement.” The report outlines several ways that the Chinese Communist Party has repressed Chinese citizens. Among those are the Uyghurs, an ethnically Turkish majority Muslim people living in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in western China. The CCP continues to use every means, including massive technological surveillance, to control the Uyghur population. This is the second year that China has been one of the biggest offenders of human rights. Last year’s keynote article pointed out…

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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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Desert locust Schistocerca gregaria is a species of locust, a periodically swarming, short-horned grasshopper in the family Acrididae

AI Tool Now Predicts Attacks of Locust Swarms for African Farmers

Under the right circumstances, data from the past can be used to predict data in the future

A new free AI tool now forewarns African farmers about impending locust attacks: “Farmers and pastoralists receive free SMS alerts 2-3 months in advance of when locusts are highly likely to attack farms and livestock forage in their areas, allowing for early intervention.” The Kuzi early warning tool is one of a number of new tools that can predict reasonably expected futures. This sort of forecasting is possible if there is large body of oracle ergodic data to train machine intelligence. “Oracle ergodic” simply means that data from the past can be used to predict data in the future. That’s not self-evident. Flipping a coin, for example, is not oracle ergodic in the sense that a history of past flips…

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cropped shot of radio host speaking in microphone in broadcasitng studio

Radio Is Changing From Hardware to Software: New Policies Needed!

Perhaps surprisingly, theology may play a role in determining how radio will be used

As I noted in an article earlier this week, dynamic spectrum access networks (DySPAN), implementing policy-based radio, are defining the future of wireless. The new networks are based on ontologies. Ontology is the study of the essential nature of a subject. It identifies the objects or variables that are involved. It then identifies the relationships between them. An ontology identifies the variables and how they relate to one another. That knowledge is then used to develop solutions. The initial ontology focuses on the variables that may result in one radio service interfering with another. The subject is the transmission level. The purpose is to improve coexistence. The goal is to get transmitters to share the same spectrum with a minimum…

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Online dating app or site in mobile phone. Finding love and romance from internet with smartphone. Man giving like. Many hologram photos of beautiful woman around cellphone. Stalker looking at profile

Can AI Find You the Love of Your Life?

Faced with a steeply declining birth rate, Japan’s government has decided to try AI matchmaking

Well, outsourcing everything to technology is the thing these days and the Japanese government, faced with a steeply declining birthrate, is giving AI matchmaking a try: Around half of the nation’s 47 prefectures offer matchmaking services and some of them have already introduced AI systems, according to the Cabinet Office. The human-run matchmaking services often use standardized forms to list people’s interests and hobbies, and AI systems can perform more advanced analysis of this data. “We are especially planning to offer subsidies to local governments operating or starting up matchmaking projects that use AI,” the official said. AFP-JIJI, “We have a match! Japan taps AI to boost birth rate slump” at Japan Times (December 7, 2020) Declining birthrate? Japan Times…

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digital world

China’s Eyes Are Watching Africa Closely

In exchange for help with high-tech communication systems, China gets to install mass surveillance technology

Depending on who you talk to, the twenty-year relationship between China and several countries in the African Union has been described as everything from mutually beneficial to asymmetric and dysfunctional right down to exploitative and neo-colonialist. Recent pre-COVID-19 surveys indicate that citizens of several African nations see their country’s interaction with China as largely positive. But if some African science fiction writers are any indicator, others see a dystopian future. The current onslaught of high-tech surveillance technologies from China provides a chance to compare the two views. Recently, I have written about racial tensions between African nationals and local government in Guangzhou amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and about how the pandemic has worsened African countries’ debt crisis, particularly due to…

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a mouse with a tree / green it

Could Carbon Computing Make Computers More Environment Friendly?

As a key component of life forms, carbon is abundant and energy efficient

Carbon, a very abundant chemical element, is one of the building blocks of life, partly on account of its stability. It is a minimalist element, compared to the silicon used in computing today: … carbon dioxide is is a small gaseous molecule consisting of two oxygens both forming a double bond with a single carbon while silicon dioxide is a massive behemoth of a molecule made of huge numbers of alternating oxygen and silicon atoms and is more commonly known as sand. S. E. Gould, “Shine on you crazy diamond: why humans are carbon-based lifeforms” at Scientific American (November 11, 2012) But there’s something else about carbon. As George Gilder puts it, carbon-based life forms, like humans, consume very little…

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Rolled Yuan bill on the map of Africa. Chinese investment in African economy

China and Africa: Debt-Trap Diplomacy?

The story of China helping Africa modernize resists simple formulas

Last week, I reported on the accusations of racism on the part of the the Chinese authorities against African residents of the city of Guangzhou in Guangdong province. While Africa and China have enjoyed a seemingly amicable relationship since the 1970s, several African leaders have pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic as highlighting unresolved underlying tensions. One of those tensions is several African countries’ debt burden. China’s response to requests for deferral in the midst of a pandemic has strained Sino-African relations. China isn’t the African countries’ only creditor. As of this writing, G20 leaders will be meeting to discuss debt-relief and extending the Debt Suspension Service Initiative (DSSI). The service has deferred debt payments by poor countries due to the…

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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…