Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis


Sanger Sequencing. 3D illustration of a method of DNA sequencing.

If DNA Is a Language, Who Is the Speaker?

Philosopher Steve Meyer talks about the significance of Francis Crick’s sequence hypothesis that shows that DNA is literally a language of life

In a talk at the Dallas Conference on Science and Faith (2021), philosopher Steve Meyer looked at the question of whether a multiverse, as in Multiverse of Madness (2022), or God, as in many traditions is the origin of our universe. That is, is our universe designed — as considerable evidence suggests — or is ours just one of a few lucky universes whose extra-lucky conditions allow for advanced life? Dr. Meyer is the author of The Return of the God Hypothesis (Harper One, 2021) which argues that the evidence from science favors God over a multiverse. (Sample here.) In this first of four transcripts of the talk, he talks about how and why it matters to ordinary people which…

Foreign languages translation or learning languages online. Mobile phone or smartphone with dictionary app on the screen.

Six Brain Regions Control Language — But We’re Not Sure How

We’re learning more about human language but it remains, in its way, mysterious

Neuroscientist Saima Malik-Moraleda told The Scientist, recently that six main regions of the brain respond to language tasks but not to, say, math tasks. Using fMRI data, a recent comprehensive survey — of which she is a co-author — examined two native speakers of each of 45 languages while the speaker was performing either a linguistic or non-linguistic specific task. From the interview, SM-M: But the variability that we saw across languages was lower than the variability that we see across participants, meaning that the language network seems to be incredibly stable and similar across languages. One of the questions that cognitive neuroscientists who particularly study language wonder is: “Why do we have six areas? What does each area do?”…


Three Simple Words Can Find Any Place on Earth

The “what3words system” of geolocation is easier to remember than many street addresses and may also work for passwords

What3words is an app and web-based service that can convert practically any location within 3 × 3 meters (or 10 × 10 feet) — the size of a typical small bedroom or den — to just three short English words if you can give it an address. Don’t believe that? Try it. The address of the Library of Congress is person.hotels.canny The address of the Louvre Museum in France is started.pelting.pops And … bluffs.alas.skater? That’s the address of a Canadian Tire store somewhere in Ottawa. Clicking Bing Maps at the What3Words site will give you that store’s street address, satellite image and tell you how to get there. So why do this? Math prof Mary Lynn Reed explains: This new…

baby chimpanzee ape at the zoo.

Human Brain Has Many More Language Connections Than Chimp Brain

That finding isn’t surprising in principle but the researchers pinned down specific areas of greater connectivity

In a study of brain scans from 50 humans and 29 chimpanzees, researchers discovered an interesting difference: The connections between language areas in the human brain are much larger than previously thought and quite different from those of the chimpanzee brain. That’s, of course, consistent with the relative complexity of human thought and language but the question had not really been examined before with a focus on one specific area. The researchers were interested in a nerve tract that connects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, the arcuate fasciculus. Chimpanzee brain connectivity seems to involve mainly the temporal lobe but in humans there is a connection towards the frontal and parietal lobes via the arcuate fasciculus. “Our findings…