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Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategoryNeuroscience

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Shaved male nape and a lot of usb cables connected to it. Concept of dependence in thinking and information

AI Expert: Artificial Intelligences Are NOT Electronic People

AI makes mistakes no human makes, so some experts are trying to adapt human cognitive psychology to machines

David Watson of the Oxford Internet Institute and the Alan Turing Institute has published an interesting and quite readable paper in Minds and Machines on the way in which artificial intelligence experts often endow their creations — mistakenly — with human characteristics. In his open access paper, “The Rhetoric and Reality of Anthropomorphism in Artificial Intelligence,” he fills us in on some of the limitations of AI and proposes fixes based on human thinking. First, thinking that AI is like a human or about to become like a human is not new: The biomimetic approach to AI has always inspired the popular imagination. Writing about Rosenblatt’s perceptron, the New York Times declared in 1958 that “The Navy has revealed the Read More ›

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Doctor demonstrating human brain anatomy and MRI brain on background

Can We Develop Tests of the Brain for Consciousness?

The paper proposing the tests reads like an ambitious but hopeless project that offers some genuinely interesting moments.

In a recent, well-organized paper, neuroscientist Christopher Tyler of the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco offers not only ten features that comprise consciousness but also empirical tests for such features. He hopes to finally crack the Hard Problem of Consciousness by dividing consciousness up into component parts and studying associated brain functions. He calls his approach Emergent Aspect Dualism. He hopes to reconcile monism (physical nature is all there is) with dualism (consciousness is not physical). With that in mind, he hopes to identify the physical machinery that rolls out consciousness, the “neural substrate for conscious processing (NSCP).” But he also hopes to borrow as much from dualism as he can, perhaps in part in order to avoid Read More ›

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Psychology concept. Sunrise and woman silhouette.

Neurosurgeon Explains Why You Are Not a Zombie

Podcaster Lucas Skrobot recently interviewed neurosurgeon Michael Egnor on the difference between the mind and the brain. Egnor told him, “My wife jokes with me that meeting me is always the worst part of a person’s life.” At 22:08, Dr. Egnor provides a thought experiment to explain that minds must transcend materials—the zombie problem. The zombie problem? Ah yes, the philosophers’ zombie: For that, you might also see one of Egnor’s articles: “Neuroscientist Michael Graziano should meet the p-zombie.” To understand consciousness, we need to establish what it is not before we create any more new theories: A p-zombie (a philosophical zombie, as distinguished from the kind that sells movies) is identical to a human being but has no first-person Read More ›

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Dream sequence in abstract tunnel to heaven or hell. possible out of body

Newfound Respect in Science Literature for Near-Death Experiences

For example, when people claim that they could see colors not normally available to humans, there is at least a possible science basis for that.

One really interesting change in science literature on near death experiences in recent years has been growing respect, possibly due to more information about them. For example, when people claim that they could see colors not normally available to humans, there is at least a possible science basis for that. In a recent edition of Scientific American neuroscientist Christof Koch, chief scientist of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, founded by a Microsoft billionaire, doesn’t discount them. He would like to find a fully naturalist explanation but that is quite different from past efforts to explain them as mere hallucinations, which failed to take into account their life-changing effects. He has said about them, I accept the reality of these Read More ›

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EEG Test on an Elderly Man at Hospital Laboratory

Can We Really Cheat Death by Downloading Our Brains?

Through the ages, we have thought of unique ways to avoid death. Could the internet and artificial intelligence help?

Last October, Jay Richards, author of The Human Advantage, caught up with Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks, a Baylor University computer engineering prof, at COSM 2019 to ask, what are our cheat-death chances? They were responding to futurist Ray Kurzweil’s heady claims made at the conference that we will merge with computers by 2045 and live on as AI. Richards and Marks reflected on Kurzweil’s claims and the thoughts of the panel responding to them. Here’s a partial transcript: Jay Richards: He’s (Kurzweil, below right) very much a sort of, I’d say, a techno-optimist. And in fact, he sort of thinks we’re going to get brain scans and upload ourselves, whereas the panel… Though I know there was a 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 ›

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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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Sad wife holding wedding ring on coronavirus confinement

Does COVID-19 Lead Women to Cheat?

The “subpersonal” approach to human psychology is popular but is it valid?

It's an open question whether the mind evolved at all and therefore whether evolutionary psychology is any help in understanding it.

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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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Bright light at the end of the dark spooky coridor. Concept of near death experience

Neuroscience Can’t Dismiss Near Death Experiences

It’s sobering to note that neuroscience has utterly failed to explain how the brain and mind relate

Despite claims, NDEs are radically different from any mental experience caused by brain impairment.

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robots call center

Why Richard Dawkins Thinks AI May Replace Us

He likes the idea because it is consistent with his naturalist philosophy

Dawkins thinks we didn’t evolve so as to understand consciousness. But that our odd situation points nowhere. Isn’t all this past its sell-by date?

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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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person holding gray and brown fish

Jerry Coyne Just Can’t Give Up Denying Free Will

Coyne’s denial of free will, based on determinism, is science denial and junk metaphysics

Some day, I predict, there will be a considerable psychiatric literature on the denial of free will. It’s essentially a delusion dressed up as science. To insist that your neurotransmitters completely control your choices is no different than insisting that your television or your iphone control your thoughts. It’s crazy.

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Sick girl lying on the hospital bed and her mom kiss to support.

Can People in Comas Have Abstract Thoughts?

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor discusses how we might test for that ability

In the recent podcast, “Michael Egnor on Whether People in Comas Can Think,” Robert J. Marks raised an interesting point with Egnor: Can people in comas think abstractly or do they form thoughts only at a much more basic level, given how physically distressed they are? The answer might surprise you.

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Open and closed.

Is There Really a “Rubber Hand” Illusion?

A venerable claim in psychology, that our minds are easily fooled about our bodies, comes under fire
It sounds as though too many people know too much about what to expect for any raw data about human cognition to be recovered from the Rubber Hand illusion. Read More ›
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Sick mature woman lying in bed

Can Loved Ones in a Coma Hear Us?

Modern brain imaging studies show that very often they can. And, with help from new technology, they can answer us too

Pioneering research using brain imaging (fMRI) over the last fifteen years has shown that, even in deep coma, people can hear, understand, and respond. It’s no longer just anecdotes from caregivers. The controversial Terri Schiavo case might be decided very differently today.

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Man with double face expression isolated on gray background

If Your Brain Were Cut in Half, Would You Still Be One Person?

Yes, with minor disabilities. Roger Sperry’s split-brain research convinced him that the mind and free will are real

The true significance of the split-brain experiments goes far beyond the significance of the lateralization of the brain; your essential unity also points to the immaterial nature of the mind.

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Western lowland gorilla, Gorilla gorilla

How Not To Debate Materialists

This is the story of how a gifted scientist lost a debate with a Darwinist — a debate he should have won

Although ape brains do differ somewhat from human brains in cortical anatomy, it is the similarity between the brains of apes and men, rather than the differences, that provide striking evidence of human exceptionalism.

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Choosing the High Road or Low Road

How Libet’s Free Will Research Is Misrepresented

Sometimes, says Michael Egnor, misrepresentation may be deliberate because Libet’s work doesn’t support a materialist perspective

“Neuroscientist Benjamin Libet’s experiments are described very often both in the scientific literature and in the popular press as supportive of materialism—which is something that they don’t support and something that Libet made very clear was not his conclusion.” – Michael Egnor

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Green wavy parrot is sitting on a white cage. The parrot looks out of the cage.

How a Neuroscientist Imaged Free Will (and “Free Won’t”)

At first, Libet thought that free will might not be real. Then he looked again…

Neuroscientist Benjamin Libet (1916–2007), who studied measured brain activity as people make decisions, came across the power of “free won’t”: an apparently free decision not to do something we had decided on earlier.

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