Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryHuman exceptionalism

United by laughter, kids of all races come together as best friends, sharing pure joy and innocence. Embracing diversity, their smiles light up the world. Generative AI

An “Evolutionary” Analysis of Childhood Provides No New Knowledge

Archeologist Brenna Hassett offers to explain the evolution of childhood and grandmothers — but, unfortunately, ends up providing no real insight
Humans have reason and ethics and other animals don’t, and there is no evidence that these qualities — that shape our societies — simply “evolved.” Read More ›
A wildlife conservationist caring for a rescued, endangered species, showing their dedication to preserving nature.

If Humans Were Just Animals, We Would Not Help Animals

Whether we like it or not, the gulf fixed between humans and other animals is what makes it possible for us to reject cruelty to animals
The “human evolution” narrative that ignores the critical distinction handicaps the thinking of philosopher Hugh Desmond and many others. Read More ›
Close-up live big lobster underwater on a on a sandy beach, poster

What Does It Mean To Say That “Lobsters Are Conscious”?

The New York Declaration on Animal Consciousness, signed in April by 40 researchers, posits a “realistic possibility of conscious experience” in all vertebrates and many invertebrates
Given that human consciousness is a Hard Problem in philosophy, we can expect useful discussions to follow — but also a good deal of silliness. Read More ›
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Harvard Law to Teach Rights of Nature

People think that such a whacky idea will never gain traction. But the nature-rights movement is making great headway
If the law grants geological features, viruses, and pond scum “rights,” our economies and human exceptionalism will be the victims. Read More ›
surreal portrait of nature's essence. woman's face blending with lush trees and life, symbolizing environmental connection and growth

Panpsychism Going Mainstream in Popular Media?

Significantly, Hawkins does not try to privilege conventional “consciousness is an illusion” over panpsychism (“everything is conscious”). He treats the two views equally
Panpsychism is very much a materialist theory. It avoids absurdity by admitting that human consciousness is real — but then tries to make it part of nature. Read More ›
A dominant male orang-utan in his native habitat. Rainforest of Borneo.

Orangutan heals wound using leaves — and triggers big media event

The orangutan is not the first or only animal to self-medicate. Birds and elephants do it too
It will be interesting to see whether other orangutans in the area begin to imitate their new neighbor in using chewed akar kuning leaves to treat wounds. Read More ›
small tree growing with sunshine in garden. eco concept

Again with the ‘Plants Are Intelligent’ Nonsense

It seems to me that the ultimate point of these “plants are persons too”–type stories is to undermine human exceptionalism
Human uniqueness is essential to our duties to each other, our posterity, the humane treatment of animals, and proper husbanding of the environment. Read More ›
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Programmer: How We Know Computers Won’t Surpass the Human Mind

Winston Ewert points out that we can only devise a “halting detector” less powerful than the ones our own minds have
Ewert predicts that, while humans will get better at building artificial intelligence systems, we will never be able to match ourselves. Read More ›

Why Humans Can’t “Share the Spotlight” With Tool-Using Animals

As the Ivy League war on human exceptionalism motors on, researchers’ thinking sometimes shorts out — and they don’t even notice
Their discussion of animal behavior depends wholly on the uniquely human ability to abstract. That ability also radically changes how humans use tools. Read More ›
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Astrophysicist: Don’t Say That Chatbots “Hallucinate”

Adam Frank points out that human-type “hallucination” is not at all what drives a chatbot to claim that the Russians sent bears into space
Frank, fellow physicist Marcelo Gleiser, and philosopher Evan Thompson argue in a new book that ignoring explicitly human experience is a blind spot for science Read More ›
petroglyphs. cave drawings

Thinking Back to the Very Beginnings of Art

It just appears, from great antiquity, and we really don’t know why. All we know is that animals don’t do it
The problem is, so much is lost that it is risky to draw conclusions. But what’s remarkable is how humans have expressed themselves with whatever was available. Read More ›
Flame of Evolution: Unveiling the Neanderthal's Discovery of Fire - A Surprising and Transformative Moment for Homo Sapiens, Marking an Astonishing Breakthrough in Ancient Culture.

Asked at Psychology Today: Were Neanderthals Religious?

We can’t poll long-dead Neanderthals on life, death, and the hereafter but the evidence we’ve dug up suggests they were thinking about that kind of thing
We must mentally step outside nature to consider things like how the world was created or what lies beyond death. Immaterial minds can do that. Read More ›
Profile portrait of a child looking up at a robot with curiosity on a dark background - not based on a real person, Generative AI

When a Brilliant Man Has a Very Confused Perspective …

Astrophysicist Avi Loeb simply doesn’t seem to see that human beings are more valuable than advanced machines
Those who think that Harvard’s best and brightest should rule over us might want to invest some time to discover how some of them really think. Read More ›
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Why Animals Don’t Really Have Anything Much to Say

Terrace attempted to teach infant chimpanzee Nim Chimpsky to form a sentence but conceded defeat. His apparent early successes were traced to human prompting. Read More ›
Generative AI illustration of neanderthal prehistoric caveman

Does It Take a PR Agency to Make Neanderthals Human?

It’s interesting to watch how science writing on Neanderthals has changed over the years
There is no reason to think Neanderthals were not human in the usual sense except that someone must be the subhuman if Darwinism is true. Read More ›
Two chimpanzees have a fun.

Why Does the Proposal for Chimp–Human Hybrids Keep Coming Back?

From David Barash’s perspective, the humanzee’s suffering is rendered worthwhile precisely because it enables the denigration of other human beings
Physicist Rob Sheldon warns, when ridiculous inhumane ideas are routinely aired, we become more willing to accept inhumane ideas that are in fact quite viable. Read More ›
Purkinje neuron, GABAergic neuron located in the cerebellum

Researchers: Human Cerebellum Aids Higher Cognitive Functions

At one time, the cerebellum was thought to facilitate only functions like movement. But recent research shows that it’s more complex
It’s not wise to bet against complexity in the brain. Or to bet that no differences will be found between the human brain and, say, the mouse brain. Read More ›
Generative ai black men twins brothers posing outdoors city street

The Explicitly Human Experience of Growing Up as a Twin

A philosopher muses on growing up as one of a set of two people
Understanding oneself as one of a set of twins is an abstract proposition. Considering what that entails, it’s a wonder that anyone doubts human exceptionalism. Read More ›
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Exopsychology: The Psychology of No One We Ever Knew

The academic attempt to establish a psychology of alien intelligences — for whose existence we have no evidence — tells us something about ourselves
Many people have a hard time accepting the fact that we may never know if we are the only intelligence in the cosmos. Unusual psychologies may result. Read More ›
The mechanisms. Atlantic code 7 verso a. By Leonardo Da Vinci in the vintage book Leonardo da Vinci by A.L. Volynskiy, St. Petersburg, 1899

Jacques Maritain on the Human Person

A philosopher on two competing views of human beings: are we mere bodies or embodied souls?

At the end of the day, a lot of the AI enthusiasm among the technological “futurists” like Ray Kurzweil is based on certain assumptions of what a human being fundamentally is. Casey Luskin reported on Kurzweil’s lecture at the recent COSM 2023 conference, noting how he is convinced that AI is humanity’s destiny, and will serve as our functional “God figure,” all-knowing, self-determining, sentient. Kurzweil sees the human person in purely scientific terms: if we can achieve a certain level of technological advancement, we will transcend our limits and take the next step of human evolution. Technology will be our religion, the means to our immortality. Jacques Maritain, a French philosopher, shared helpful thoughts about the human person in his Read More ›