Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryMedicine and Health

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Scared young girl in mask, coronavirus panic

China’s Foxconn Walkout: How Fear Messaging Can Backfire

Workers were caught in a conflict between unrealistic COVID Zero messaging from the government and seasonal performance demands from the employer

Around this time of year, the factories that produce Apple’s iPhones hire thousands of additional workers to meet the demand for the holiday season. While Apple is an American company and the electronics are designed in-house, the manufacturing is done overseas where labor costs are cheaper. One of the largest manufacturers for Apple’s iPhone products is Hon Hai Technology Group, better known as Foxconn, a Taiwan-based company with factories in several countries, including mainland China. One of its largest facilities is in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province — dubbed “iPhone City” by the locals. Thus the Zhengzhou Foxconn factory was slated to make 80% of the iPhone 14 models and 85% of the iPhone Pro models before the end Read More ›

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Coronavirus maps disease 2019 situation update worldwide coronavirus spread,World map Coronavirus or Covid-19 Close-up countries with Covid-19, Covid 19 map confirmed cases report worldwide globally.

Lab Leak Theory: A Biohazard Was First Noted in 2019

The dispatches indicate a “grave and complex situation” prompting an emergency visit from the director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences

A US Senate interim report has recently concluded that that “the Covid-19 pandemic was, more likely than not, the result of a research-related incident.” The 35-page report, prepared by the minority oversight staff of the of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), used publicly available documentation to justify the findings. However, it did not include the 236-page report submitted by language expert Toy Reid, who analyzed Chinese Communist Party dispatches between scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and their supervisors in Beijing. Katherine Eban of Vanity Fair and Jeff Kao of ProPublica were given advanced access to the Senate researchers’ documents and spent months conducting their own investigation. They interviewed Reid, talked with members Read More ›

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Fearful young woman with aluminum hat browsing social media. Conspiracy theory about 5g network destroying brain. High quality photo

How Fact-Checking Can Hide Needed Information From the Public

What role did fact-checking play in the suppression of inconvenient but essential facts about the origin of COVID-19?

Earlier this week, we looked at the recent news that Facebook has a special portal for government to look in and report “disinformation,” — as if government, in a highly charged political atmosphere, were some kind of neutral third party. The assignment of some sort of neutrality to power sources or experts who may not be neutral or have any reason to be is one of the characteristics of fact-checking, as it has developed over the last decade in mainstream and social media. Why was the Wuhan lab leak theory supposed to be a conspiracy? In that context, let’s look at the claim that COVID-19 originated in an accident at a high-level virus lab in the upcountry Chinese city of Read More ›

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Left and Right Human Brain Anatomy Illustration. 3D rendering

Study: Loss of Half the Brain Doesn’t Mean No Word, Face Contact

Researchers astounded: Contrary to theory, in a recent study, the single remaining brain hemisphere supported both word and face reading functions

Some children have half of their brains removed (hemispherectomy) to control massive seizures that would otherwise destroy the child’s whole brain. Specialists were surprised that the children functioned fairly normally — certainly compared to what would have been expected. A recent study of post-hemispherectomy patients has provided dramatic evidence of rewiring: An unprecedented study of brain plasticity and visual perception found that people who, as children, had undergone surgery removing half of their brain correctly recognized differences between pairs of words or faces more than 80% of the time. Considering the volume of removed brain tissue, the surprising accuracy highlights the brain’s capacity — and its limitations — to rewire itself and adapt to dramatic surgery or traumatic injury. The Read More ›

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placebo

Placebo: The Power of the Human Mind Confounds Medical Research

Angelman syndrome, which creates a variety of developmental problems, has proven a challenge for researchers on that account

We don’t often hear about researchers crying but when researchers at Ovid Therapeutics heard the test results for their drug, gaboxadol, they couldn’t help it. They were testing the sleep-inducing drug to help with the symptoms of Angelman Syndrome, a rare neurogenetic disorder that appears in infancy. It results in a variety of developmental problems such as walking and balance disorders, inability to speak or sleep properly, gastrointestinal issues, and seizures. It affects people in different ways and to different degrees. Notably, those who cope with Angelman smile and laugh a lot and have a normal lifespan. The OVID team had high hopes for gaboxadol in August of this year because even improving the quality of sleep would help sufferers Read More ›

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Künstliche Intelligenz Konzept

Oxford’s John Lennox Busts the “Computer Takeover” Myth

AI is here to stay, he says, but in addition to doing a great deal of good, it raises vast problems we must address

Earlier this month, we looked at claims that robots are going to scarf up everyone’s jobs. That was a bonus feature in the Science Uprising series. In another bonus interview, “John Lennox on the Transhumanist Claim AI Will Turn Humans into Gods” (October 17, 2022), Oxford mathematician Lennox talks about claims that 1) computers are taking over and that 2) we will merge with them (transhumanism). Lennox is the author of 2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity (2020). This is the first of two parts, where he talks mainly about narrow AI but then gets into the topic of artificial general intelligence (AGI). A partial transcript and notes follow: John Lennox: The typical AI system consists of a Read More ›

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An elderly man with a backpack on his back is slowly walking along a mountain hiking trail on the seashore. He leans on a walking stick.

How Robotics Can Help Speed Up Post-Stroke Rehabilitation

Robotics can help the therapist put the partially paralysed stroke patient’s thoughts and intentions back in the driver’s seat

In the United States alone, about 795,000 people suffer strokes each year, leading to varying degrees of paralysis. Post-stroke rehabilitation has come a long way in recent decades and one area of focus is robotic-assisted rehabilitation for both the upper and the lower body. That’s partly a medical issue and an economic one. As Physiopedia explains, It is used to supplement or facilitate rehabilitation by assisting in the repetitive labor-intensive manual therapy that is normally administered by therapists. This decreases the time demands on therapists as the robotic devices can help move the patient’s limbs during exercises, thereby increasing the amount of therapy for each patient and increasing the number of patients undergoing therapy simultaneously.” Here’s a demonstration of a Read More ›

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depressed woman sitting on bed and holding head in hands through window with raindrops

Study: Depressed Patients’ Brains Can Rewire, Lifting the Gloom

The paper will be presented at as conference of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology

We are always learning new, mostly hopeful, things about the human brain. This one may help medics treat depression: Scientists believe that the structure of the adult brain is generally rigid and incapable of rapid changes; now new work has shown that this is not true. German researchers have shown that in-patient treatment for depression can lead to an increase in brain connectivity, and those patients who respond well to this treatment show a greater increase in connectivity than those who don’t. European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, “Scientists discover structure of adult brain — previously thought to be fixed — is changed by treatment” at Eurekalert (October 17, 2022) The paper will be presented at the 35th European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Read More ›

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side view of senior man in coma on bed in hospital

Researchers: Comatose People Can Have “Covert Consciousness”

Claassen and Edlow found that the brain patterns of a woman who could not respond physically to commands showed that she recognized them

Columbia University neurologist Jan Claassen and Harvard medical school neurologist Brian L. Edlow introduce us to a vital new concept in consciousness: “covert consciousness,” which is experienced by 15–20% of people who are in a coma: Thirty-year-old New York City resident Maria Murkevich, for example, suffered a ruptured blood vessel in her brain and was comatose. Conventional tests (wiggle your toes, etc.) produced no response but her loved ones still believed she was “in there.”: They were right. But it took a high-tech method to demonstrate that: The medical team gave her an EEG — placing sensors on her head to monitor her brain’s electrical activity — while they asked her to “keep opening and closing your right hand.” Then Read More ›

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Close-up picture of beautiful charming female in pale pink silk shirt sitting on floor on colorful carpet holding laptop on knees with prosthetic bionic hand made of black metal mechanical device

Bionic Hands? Not An Improvement on Mechanical Hooks!, Says User

Right now, says a woman born without a left hand, electronic prostheses don’t function as well as mechanical extensions

Writing in the engineering journal IEEE Spectrum, Britt H. Young looks at bionics from the perspective ofa user. Her left forearm failed to develop prenatally. She offers a number of concerns about the direction of bionics, especially the expense of bionic limbs and their difficulty of use compared to simpler prostheses: Today, the people who design prostheses tend to be well-intentioned engineers rather than amputees themselves. The fleshy stumps of the world act as repositories for these designers’ dreams of a high-tech, superhuman future. I know this because throughout my life I have been fitted with some of the most cutting-edge prosthetic devices on the market. After being born missing my left forearm, I was one of the first cohorts Read More ›

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Traditionelle Häuser, Fischerdorf Pestel, Haiti

How Solar Energy Ran a Haitian Hospital During the Energy War

Gangs seized control of the ports at which ships bringing fuel docked, cutting off supplies, in an effort to force the Acting President to step down

Yesterday, we looked at the first part of the “Appropriate Technology: the Haitian Energy Problem” podcast (October 13, 2022). Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed engineers Brian Thomas and Kayla Garrett of JustEnergy on the current shortage of energy sources in Haiti. In the second part of the podcast, they look at what might be done: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/10/Mind-Matters-208-Brian-Thomas-Kayla-Garrett.mp3 A partial transcript, notes, and additional resources follow. Brian Thomas: Let’s stop and think. If gasoline is $20, $25 a gallon — even if it’s $10 a gallon — and you make very little money or you don’t have a job at all… tThen gasoline is like cash. You can sell that. You can turn around and sell that. So gasoline Read More ›

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TRUE versus FALSE written on the white arrows, dilemmas concept.

California Law to Punish Doctors for “Misinformation” About COVID

One problem is that a term like “scientific consensus” simply doesn’t apply to discussion of the evidence collected during the pandemic

An article at MedPage Today supports the new California law against doctors providing “misinformation” about COVID-19: California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation on Friday that gives the state some ammunition against physicians who spread lies about COVID in the context of direct patient care, although it won’t apply to those who spread such misinformation on social media. It is said to be the first such law in the nation. Such misinformation — when it is “contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care,” and delivered with “malicious intent or an intent to mislead” — now can be defined as “unprofessional conduct.” Cheryl Clark, “California Bill Barring Docs From Telling COVID Lies Signed Into Law” at MedPage Today Read More ›

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senior, depressed african american man looking at photo frame

New Function for Our Brains’ Cerebellum: Emotional Memory

Memory is all immaterial information. But very different types of information. Researchers found that the cerebellum handles a lot of emotional memory

We use the same word “memory” to mean very different types of things. There’s the new phone number, in which we have no emotional investment. Then there’s the smell of cinnamon buns from a long-ago home-town bakery, which is a non-shareable emotional investment. And again, there’s a colleague’s advice about addressing a difficult client’s needs… that’s a mixture of a number of different types of memory, in getting the right approach down pat. All memory is immaterial information, of very different types. And a team of researchers finds that our brains’ cerebellum handles a lot of emotional memory: The cerebellum is known primarily for regulation of movement. Researchers at the University of Basel have now discovered that the cerebellum also Read More ›

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The zero covid text on china flag 3d rendering

China’s Covid Theater: It’s Not Really About the Disease

Not exactly. As the Twentieth National Congress looms, the Chinese Communist Party does not want any COVID in Beijing

The Chinese Communist Party’s zero-Covid policy, heralded by Xi Jinping, is killing China’s economy and sinking citizens’ morale. Zero-Covid is viewed as a litmus test for support for the Communist Party, and Xi Jinping in particular. The goal is not saving lives but ensuring that the virus does not spread to Beijing ahead of the twentieth National Congress on October 16. Some hope that restrictions will ease after the National Congress. Others are less optimistic. The CCP under Xi Jinping declared “war on the virus” two years ago but the casualties in the Party’s pathogenic war have been the Chinese people. In the lead-up to the Twentieth National Congress in which Xi Jinping will announce his third term as General Read More ›

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Doctor touching patient hand for encouragement and empathy in the hospital, cheering and support patient, Bad news, medical examination, trust and ethics

Psychiatry Has Always Been Difficult But …

… it’s unclear how trashing almost every philosophical tradition from which it is approached will really help

Philosopher Elly Vintiadis at the American College of Greece thinks that psychiatry has a philosophy problem: Psychiatry is caught up in a number of philosophical errors. One is reductionism, as psychiatry tends to seek underlying biological causes for mental disorders. The other is dualism, as it thinks of mental disorders as either caused by our brains or caused by our minds. Both these errors are a result of seeing the world as made up of a hierarchy of things. Instead, if psychiatry saw the world as fundamentally made up of processes, dynamically interacting with each other, a much more nuanced understanding of mental disorders would become available to it, argues Elly Vintiadis. Elly Vintiadis, “Reality and mental disorder: Psychiatry has Read More ›

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Future Of Medicine

Would You Trust a Robot To Do Surgery on You?

If you were an astronaut, you may not have an alternative

We’ve heard about how Watson flopped in medicine — and yet a remote surgical robot is going to the International Space Station: On Earth, this technology already allows doctors to assist people in faraway locations where services are not readily available. However, the MIRA technology has the added benefit of performing operations autonomously, meaning that astronauts serving on the Moon and Mars could receive medical care without the need for a human surgeon. Matt Williams, “A Remote Surgical Robot is Going to the International Space Station” at Universe Today (August 8, 2022) Integrating AI and medicine is a complex dance. The Virtual Incision machine, slated for 2024, is part of a program to enable long-term life in space: “NASA has Read More ›

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Preacher at altar with Bible preaching to Congregation portrait close up

Study: Weekly Attendance at Religious Services Prolongs Life

Well, that’s what a recent study of older Black American men showed

According to a recent article in PLOS: For men of color, faith-based organizations become increasingly important as they approach their senior years. Whether they’re members of a church, mosque, synagogue or other center of worship, Black men are discovering life affirming—and life extending—rewards of belonging to a community of worship. A new study led by the University of Houston’s Marino Bruce suggests that regularly attending religious services may lower mortality rates for Black men in their 50s and older. These findings were recently published in journal PLOS One, in the article “Religious Service Attendance and Mortality Among Older Black Men.” Using data from the National Health and National Examination Survey (NHANES), Bruce and co-authors observed trends suggesting that mortality risks Read More ›

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Hearing loss problem, Asian old man with hand on ear gesture trying to listen shouting woman, Aging senior decline in hearing ability, Elderly health problems concept.

Surprise Finding About Human Hearing

It turns out, many cells send information to the brain, not just a few

Hearing loss may not be as certain as we think: For the past 100 years, we have believed that each sensory cell has its own “optimal frequency” (a measure of the number of sound waves per second). The hair cell responds most strongly to this frequency. This idea means that a sensory cell with an optimal frequency of 1000 Hz would respond much less strongly to sounds with a frequency slightly lower or higher. It has also been assumed that all parts of the cochlea work in the same way. Now, however, a research team has discovered that this is not the case for sensory cells that process sound with frequencies under 1000 Hz, considered to be low-frequency sound. The Read More ›

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Scientists testing in lab.

Will AI Really Change Drug Development? Not So Fast…

Jeffrey Funk and Gary N. Smith note that AI was not significant in the development of COVID vaccines. Financial incentives ruled

Something to know before you invest or entertain high hopes: Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith published a recent article in Salon that offers a free cold shower. Some realities they cite: Most of the expense of drug development is in clinical trials on human beings, which can’t be automated. Any attempt to save time or money would come at identifiable costs in accuracy. Yes, COVID vaccines were a banner achievement for speedy drug development. But AI played little or no standout role in the process: Determined to get a COVID-19 vaccine to the public before the November 3, 2020, presidential election, the U.S. government devoted $14 billion to support the pharmaceutical companies’ vaccine efforts. The government agreed to pay Pfizer Read More ›

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Young attractive handicapped beauty blogger is filming video with smartphone at home.

Reality Check: Can Bionic Hands Really Compete With Nature?

A geographer born without a left forearm offers an honest assessment of the “bionic hand” arms race

The author of a recent article in IEEE Spectrum was born without a left forearm so she can talk about the tech reality of prostheses from the front lines: Today, the people who design prostheses tend to be well-intentioned engineers rather than amputees themselves. The fleshy stumps of the world act as repositories for these designers’ dreams of a high-tech, superhuman future. I know this because throughout my life I have been fitted with some of the most cutting-edge prosthetic devices on the market. After being born missing my left forearm, I was one of the first cohorts of infants in the United States to be fitted with a myoelectric prosthetic hand, an electronic device controlled by the wearer’s muscles Read More ›