Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategoryNatural Intelligence

old tree roots in a green forest

New Research Suggests That Plants Can “Think”

But what does that mean? Clearly not what some people expect

From time immemorial, we have endowed what we find in nature with our own characteristics. That is called mythology. The people who think that salad is murder or beg plants to forgive their sins are not helping the environment; they are incorporating a mythology into their lives

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Gorgeous puppy looking on itself in the mirror

Mirror, Mirror, Am I a Self?

Scientists ponder, how would animals show self-awareness?

One controversy in animal psychology centers on whether or not an animal can recognize itself in a mirror. But a number of scientists are beginning to doubt that the mirror test shows animal self-awareness.

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Slime molds

Is a Brain Really Needed for Thinking?

The “blob,” now on display at the Paris Zoo, forces the question

In addition to the many puzzles we face in understanding the relationship between the immaterial human mind and the material human brain, we are discovering some life forms that can manage “sensory integration, decision-making and now, learning” without a physical brain.

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Dolphin portrait while looking at you with open mouth

What Do Animal Studies Tell Us About Human Minds?

They show that human experience is unique

Many people assume that human consciousness arose accidentally many eons ago from animal consciousness and that therefore we can find glimmers of the same sort of consciousness in the minds of animals. But that approach isn’t producing the expected results.

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Reading with a kitten in his arms, filming indoors

Cats do bond with people

Both cats and kittens showed about the same level of attachment to caregivers as children and dogs did

When a cat feels secure, he develops relationships with humans and dogs. But he won’t be either your servant or your master; just your housemate—and maybe at last your old friend.

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Machine vision Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash SrC5iuVJk_c

What You See That the Machine Doesn’t

You see the “skeleton” of an idea
Humans can intuit the underlying forms that govern shapes, in part by guessing the intentions of other humans. Machine vision does not intuit things, which may be one reason for its odd misidentifications. Read More ›
The car made of grass.

Can We “Evolve” Self-Driving Cars?

The new method may be an advance but thinking of it as "evolution" at work risks misconceptions

In evolution, “performance” just means the continued survival of a lineage. Thus it can include hybrids between what you might want for your purposes and what you don’t want.

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Resting at office

If AI dumbed us down, would we even know?

Silicon Valley pros face the challenges head-on
Does the constant use of machine aids rob us of natural smarts? If not, how are they helping us? Are there ways we can change the mix? Read More ›
Bottlenose Dolphin NASA public domain

Dolphinese: The Idea That Animals Think As We Do Dies Hard

But first it can lead us down strange paths
Down one of them, some researchers met a dolphin. Unfortunately for the dolphin. Read More ›
Herd of African elephants in National Park, Uganda

Elephants Who Fly — or Become “Persons” — Are Magic

Okay, it's impossible. But then why do thinkers who disbelieve the one believe the other?

For decades, researchers were transfixed with the idea of humanizing great apes by raising them among humans and teaching them language. Emerging from the ruins and recriminations of the collapse, philosophy prof Don Ross has a new idea: Let’s start with elephants instead.

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Monkey family on the tree in Nepal monastery

Are Monkeys with Some Human Genes Partly Human?

If they are somewhat smarter than other macaques, do they have minds and souls?

In my ongoing dialogue with Querius, I say no; a human is not reducible to a handful of genes.

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chimpanzee family

Human-Ape Similarity Shows Humans Are Exceptional

If man is an animal biologically, but so unlike an animal cognitively, the obvious implication is that some aspect of the human mind is not biological

Ironically, if humans and apes were biologically more different, materialists could claim that the material biological differences rather than immaterial spiritual differences account for our powers of abstract thought. The biological similarity precludes such an argument.

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Hand above a red emergency button

Why an AI pioneer thinks Watson is a “fraud”

The famous Jeopardy contest in 2011 worked around the fact that Watson could not grasp the meaning of anything

Gary N. Smith explains that a computer’s inability to understand what “it” means in a sentence is because it doesn’t understand what any of the words in the sentence mean.

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Close up of a Chimpanzee-family (mother and her two kids)

Researchers: Apes Are Just Like Us!

And we’re not doing the right things to make them start behaving that way…

In 2011, we were told in Smithsonian Magazine, “‘Talking’ apes are not just the stuff of science fiction; scientists have taught many apes to use some semblance of language.” Have they? If so, why has it all subsided? What happened?

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Gold chess piece on computer mainboard. Concept of IT strategy, making decision, technology background.

Henry Kissinger on Why We Must Adapt to AI

He thinks chessbot AlphaZero is “no longer constrained by the limits of human knowledge.” But is the story much simpler?

Walter Bradley Center fellows aren’t really in a position to respond to the demands for "metamorphosis" (total transformation); they could and did, however, respond to specific claims made in the article for winning chessbot AlphaZero.

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octopus-bimaculoides-3-credit-tom-kleindinst-sized

Scientists Clash Over Why Octopuses Are Smart

New findings show, the brainy seafood breaks all the rules about why some life forms are smart
For many years, we’ve been trying to understand why the octopus is uniquely smart among cephalopods. Research answers some questions only to raise others, as a recent controversy shows. Read More ›
Introvert concept. The man sitting inside box with glasses of virtual reality. Future technology concept

Is Deep Virtual Reality the Next Big Market Disrupter?

When media moves from capturing attention by being different to capturing ever smaller slices of users' time, the market is ripe for disruption

How can internet-based media consume more user time? First, they will move away from a screen interface to a voice- and face-recognition interface. But the next logical step is probably deeply immersive virtual reality seeping into everyday life.

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Crop man with dog in fall field

Those Puppy Dog Eyes Are No Accident

The babyface dog is, according to a study of animal shelters, more likely to be adopted

Over thirty-three millennia of selective breeding shaped “a scant, irregular cluster of fibres” found around wolves’ eyes into eyebrows that communicate—to humans—a look-after-me doggy expression.

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Dark, poorly lit corridor with locked bays

Philosopher: Gloom and doom over AI is “silly”

Jay Richards thinks that historian Yuval Noah Harari is wrong to think that AI will necessarily subvert democracy

The idea that machines are capable of replacing us is the topic of many books he has read but, he argues, the thing that really distinguishes us is the capacity for developing creative freedom.

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