Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategoryNatural Intelligence

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.

Read More ›
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.

Read More ›
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.

Read More ›
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.

Read More ›
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.

Read More ›
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.

Read More ›
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?

Read More ›
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.

Read More ›
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.

Read More ›
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.

Read More ›
t-h-chia-1486023-unsplash
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.

Read More ›
British shorthair cats and Golden Retriever

Michael Medved Talks With Robert J. Marks About Animal vs. Human vs. AI Minds

With a glance at unique human creativity
Michael Medved talks with Robert J. Marks about animal vs human minds With a glance at unique human creativity Robert J. Marks: Sometimes the results of computation are surprising. But they are not creative because it has all been placed there in the computer program. Humans can do something external to that. Read More ›
two young baboons

Can Animals “Reason”? My Challenge to Jeffrey Shallit

He believes that animals can engage in abstract thinking. What abstractions do they reason about?

Dr. Jeffrey Shallit is an atheist mathematician who holds to the odd belief that animals, like humans, are capable of reason. It would seem that a highly intelligent man who makes his living by doing mathematics would understand that animals don’t, and can’t, do mathematics. But Dr. Shallit remains confused on this point, as he makes clear in his response to my recent post on that inability of animals to think abstractly or to reason (“An atheist argues against reason”). I observed that reason is defined traditionally in a very straightforward manner as the capacity for abstract thought. Shallit comments, Whenever Egnor talks about something being “accepted” or “simple and straightforward”, you can be pretty sure that the opposite is Read More ›

Headache Pain

Non-Invasive Healing for the Wounded Brain

One method does not involve invasive surgery but rather stimulating the tongue

Jonathan Sackier emphasizes that, when dealing with sufferers from severe or chronic brain injury, medicine must not raise false hopes: “So we have a profound obligation to be honest, open, transparent, and to do darn good science!” But he is optimistic.

Read More ›
josue-batres-1350840-unsplash
Ape on pole

University Fires Philosophy Prof, Hires Chimpanzee to Teach, Research

A light-hearted look at what would happen if we really thought that unreason is better than reason

Dissociated Press – According to sources from the Funny Papers News Collective, officials at the Université Paris Diderot announced today that philosophy professor Justin Smith has been dismissed from his teaching and research duties at the university, following publication of his new book, Irrationality. In the widely acclaimed book, Smith argues forcefully that reason is highly overrated, and generally of less survival value than brute animal instinct. Citing 16th-century diplomat Girolamo Rorario in his treatise “That Brute Animals Make Better use of Reason than Men”, Smith argues: [H]uman deliberation – the period of hesitancy when we survey our various options and eventually select what appears to be the best of them – far from being an advantage over other beings, Read More ›