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Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategoryMedicine and Health

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smart medical technology concept, doctor use smart glasses to use augmented reality to show the anatomy body of the patient for analysis and find the way to treatment in surgery room at hospital..

Virtual Reality Joins Actual Reality — and It’s a Real Advance

The grandfather of virtual reality explains how everyone began to think of ways VR might help them

As a result of media reports of his success in pioneering virtual reality for the US Air Force, many people contacted Thomas Furness. asking about civilian uses for virtual reality. In a recent podcast, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks continued his discussion with the “grandfather of virtual reality.” And the people who contacted Furness were not asking for better computer games. They were talking about really serious issues: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-086-Thomas-Furness.mp3 Transcript. Partial transcript: Thomas Furness: One question that came, one of the first ones I received, was from a mother who had watched a program that, apparently I was talking about the virtual cockpit. She called me and said, I watched this program. I want you to know my Read More ›

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side view of senior man in coma on bed in hospital

Is There Hope for People in a Persistent Vegetative State?

Yes! Modern neuroscience is shining a light on their minds

Today, many neuroscientists don’t even call it a persistent vegetative state. The new term is disorders of consciousness. One neuroscientist recounts, In the past 20 years, advances in neuroimaging techniques have allowed us to explore brain functions in these altered states of consciousness. One breakthrough study conducted at our lab, in collaboration with the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, involved 54 DoC patients. The researchers asked the patients to perform two mental-imagery tasks while they lay in a brain scanner. In the first, they were asked to imagine playing tennis; in the second, to imagine walking from room to room in their home – mental tasks that are associated with contrasting patterns of neural activity. Remarkably, five patients Read More ›

The concept of planet Earth similar to the COVID-19 virus
The concept of planet Earth similar to the COVID-19 virus

Twenty Years on, Aliens Still Cause Global Warming

Over the years, the Jurassic Park creator observed, science has drifted from its foundation as an objective search for truth toward political power games

In 2003, author and filmmaker Michael Crichton (1942–2008), best known for Jurassic Park, made a now-famous speech at Caltech, titled “Aliens Cause Global Warming.” The title was humorous but the content was serious. He was not addressing some strange theory of global warming; he was warning about the politicization of science. Crichton (left, in 2002, courtesy Jon Chase, Harvard CC 3.0), noted that, over the years, science has drifted away from its foundation as an objective search for truth and given itself over to political power games. The first time that he witnessed that was with the famous Drake Equation, used to turn SETI speculations about space aliens into a science. The Drake equation was a series of probabilities multiplied Read More ›

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A hand pointing at brain MRI on the light box

Why Brain Activity Doesn’t Reveal Our Minds

There is poor correlation between different scans of even the same person’s brain, experienced researchers say

At one time, we were told that, one day, machines will read our minds. But, now researchers say, the more we know about the brain (set aside the mind for a moment), the more reasons we have for doubt: But a new analysis by some of the researchers who have done the most work in this area finds that those measurements are highly suspect when it comes to drawing conclusions about any individual person’s brain. Karl Leif Bates, “Studies of brain activity aren’t as useful as scientists thought” at Duke Today Brain scanning—functional MRI (fMRI)—tells us about general brain structures, says Duke University neuroscientist Ahmad Hariri, who led a team that reanalyzed the data. It doesn’t say much about the Read More ›

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walnut split on a white background

My Right Hemisphere Is An Atheist! No, Wait …

In reality, split-brain surgery does not split consciousness in any meaningful sense

The atheist neuroscientist who has made bizarre claims about the outcomes of split brain surgery appears not to know much about neurosurgery.

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St Francis Outpatient Center in Federal Way, Washington State

COVID-19: Atheism Went Viral As Well

Atheists are uniquely unsuited to accuse others of devaluing human life

Professor Steven Pinker’s quickly deleted tweet provides a window into anti-religious hate. In health and medicine, he is entirely mistaken. 

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couple of two seniors or mature people walking in the airport going to their gate and take their flight wearing medical mask to prevent virus like coronavirus or covid-19 - carrying luggage or trolley

Ten Ways COVID-19 Will Change Your Next Air Trip

You’ll still get there but it definitely won’t be half the fun

On board, the plane will be cleaner but also leaner. Expect to wear a mask and snack before you go.

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medical statistics and graphic charts with stethoscope

Making Sense of the Numbers Behind COVID-19

Media and politicians put statistics before us to sway our opinions. But what do they really mean?

Numbers can frighten or enlighten. The secret is making them explain themselves. Here’s a quick primer.

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Woman and man in social distancing sitting on bench

Five Surprising Changes To Watch for from COVID-19

Expect to hear much more about robots that can stand in for humans, as a way of enabling social distance

There are the Spanish police drones flying around, enforcing lockdown orders. And Singapore’s robotic police dogs, enforcing social distance. Will they go away?

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Neurons cells concept

Elon Musk’s Myths About the Mind

According to Musk, everything in the brain is an electrical signal. That’s pretty naive

Neuroscientists used to think that each neuron was as complex as a switch. But newer research shows that each neuron is more similar to a microprocessor. Musk’s 3,000 Neuralink electrodes controlled by a single processor does not remotely match your brain’s 80 billion processors, all linked together.

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Alfred Nobel Prize

Thinking Outside the Box Is Not a Disease

Enforced orthodoxy, often described euphemistically as “scientific consensus,” is an impediment to science

At the Skeptical Inquirer, we read about the“Nobel Disease,” whereby Nobel Prize-winning scientists ditch critical thinking and embrace unorthodox views. In reality, unorthodoxy helped them win the Prize.

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Vitamin D gelcaps.

Vitamin D and COVID-19: Is It Data or Noise?

Because random clusters occur naturally in large numbers, only randomized, controlled trials can tell us

Random data shows geographic clusters. Thus some locations will inevitably have higher COVID-19 rates than others. As my example shows, associating these clusters with personal characteristics after the fact is not convincing scientific evidence. That’s where randomized, controlled trials are needed.

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cryptocurrency equipment mining

Data Mining: A Plague, Not a Cure

It is tempting to believe that patterns are unusual and their discovery meaningful; in large data sets, patterns are inevitable and generally meaningless

Findings patterns in data is easy. Finding meaningful patterns that have a logical basis and can be used to make accurate predictions is elusive. We can see this from 18th-century attempts to cure scurvy through 21st century claims about the stock market or history.

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Real Php code developing screen. Programing workflow abstract algorithm concept. Lines of Php code visible under magnifying lens.

Will Ideas or Algorithms Rule Science Tomorrow?

David Krakauer of the Santa Fe Institute offers an unsettling vision of future science as produced by machines that no one really understands

The basic problem is that accepting on faith what we can’t ever hope to understand is not a traditional stance of science. Thus it’s a good question whether science could survive such a transition and still be recognizable to scientists. But does turning things over to incomprehensible algorithms, as Krakauer proposes, really work anyway? Current results from a variety of areas give pause for thought.

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People on railway station and man in face mask using on phone while epidemic and covid19. Coronavirus and travel and public transport.

Top Consumer Trends COVID-19 Will Change Long Term

Data from 40 countries suggests that, post-COVID, people will continue to stick close to home

According to analysts, robotic devices are becoming more popular for a reason few would have guessed earlier; they reduce the need for physical human contact. Recycling, however, has taken a hit and weaning consumers from disposables post-COVID may prove a challenge. Huge firms are riding the storm, however, and Gen Z is spending the lockdown improving its career chances. Meanwhile, consumers surveyed around the globe say they plan to travel less.

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Young woman using smart phone,Social media concept.

Is Contact Tracing a Simple Answer to COVID Lockdowns?

An engineering professor at the University of Austin asks us to look at the costs and benefits

The conventional science fiction fear of a superintelligent AI taking over the planet and ridding it of pesky humans distracts our attention from a much more realistic threat: Artificial intelligence (AI) makes both government and corporate surveillance much easier, cheaper, and more useful—whether it is in average citizens’ interests or not. If we are lucky, this will be the decade when we address the implications of that fact.

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Robot studies a coronavirus with magnifier,nano robot with bacterium,3d render.

Can AI Save Us from COVID-19? An Expert Is Skeptical

To use AI more successfully next time, we need a clear understanding of its limitations as well as its capabilities

Experts list various problems, including the fact that AI is vulnerable to failure due to unforeseen problems, including problems with data (too sparse, too noisy, too many outliers, etc.). It also doesn’t learn as well from experience as humans do.

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Happy man on wheelchair in nature. Exploring forest wilderness on an accessible dirt path.

Through AI, a Paralyzed Man Has Regained the Sense of Touch

In 2016, through advanced technology, he regained the ability to move individual fingers

According to researchers, Ian Burkhart, whose hands and legs were paralyzed in a diving accident in 2010, has regained the sense of touch,, through a brain implant, as opposed to simply the ability to move a hand: The breakthrough came from analysis of years of data collected from NeuroLifeTM program study participant Ian Burkhart, who suffered a spinal cord injury in 2010 when diving into the ocean, and now lives with paralysis in his hands and legs. “When the chip was placed on the surface of Ian’s motor cortex in 2014, it was not known that the signals related to object touch could be observed because of the paralysis,” said lead author and Battelle Principal Research Scientist Patrick Ganzer. “Furthermore, Read More ›

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Flying futuristic central processing unit. electronic circuitry within a computer that carries out the instructions of a computer program performing arithmetic, logic, controlling.

Coronavirus: Is Data Mining Failing Its First Really Big Test?

Computers scanning thousands of paper don’t seem to be providing answers for COVID-19

If Alphabet’s Deep Mind or Microsoft had successfully data mined the 29,000 papers and found useful coronavirus information, that would be pretty impressive. But they appear to be giving others a chance to try instead, raising issues once again about the value of data mining in medicine.

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Photo by Erik Mclean
red and blue hearts illustration

Why Does COVID-19 Target the Northern Hemisphere?

A graph of death rates by latitude is revealing

First of all, COVID-19 clearly does not attack the globe uniformly by latitude. The second standout feature is that it targets the northern hemisphere. How can a disease’s spread be affected by hemisphere, let alone latitude? Let’s look a little deeper for some clues.

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