Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategoryNatural Intelligence

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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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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.

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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 ›

Paper wasp Bastetemon Adobe

Wasps can reason? Science media say yes, researchers no

Media stories explicitly claim that wasps use logical reasoning, which researchers disavow

The media’s monolithic obsession with denying human uniqueness comes at a cost. The remarkable fact that two life forms have the same number of neurons but one displays significantly more complex behavior than the other is drowned out by the volume of misrepresentation. 

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How the Injured Brain Heals Itself: Our Amazing Neuroplasticity

Jonathan Sackier is a pioneer in non-invasive techniques for speeding the healing of traumatic brain injuries

People who have come back from catastrophic injuries like Bill Zoller's intrigue neuroscientists because they offer a glimpse into the neuroplasticity that enables the brain to restore lost functions, which we can learn to augment.

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Philosopher Argues, Human Reason Is Inferior to Animal Reactions

Smith offers to resolve the problem of human exceptionality by dethroning reason

He hopes that artificial intelligence and extraterrestrial life (a “statistical near-certainty”) will help us “give up the idea of rationality as nature’s last remaining exception.”

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Why AI Fails To Actually Create Things

Only one of the traits du Sautoy suggests is an essential part of creativity

Du Sautoy’s fourth trait—“originality of a truly independent nature”—is a useful part of the definition of creativity. It is, however, the one trait that he admits is missing from AI’s “creative” attempts

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the game of go
the game of go

Why AI Appears To Create Things

When AlphaGo made a winning move, it exhibited no more creative insight than when it played pedestrian moves

Our surprise at AlphaGo’s move says more about our inability to predict what a program will do than about any creative effort of the program. We’ve known for decades that we cannot predict the results of any moderately complex computer program.

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George Gilder with a microphone in the foreground

George Gilder: Why Entrepreneurship Can’t Just Be Automated

In business, an entrepreneur is the “oracle,” the one element that cannot be programmed or computed

Creativity always comes as a surprise to us. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t need it. We could program it on our machines. But because it’s always surprising, it can’t be planned.

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The asian technician using the magnifying glass for repairing the tablet's motherboard in the lab. the concept of computer hardware, mobile phone, electronic, repairing and technology.
The asian technician using the magnifying glass for repairing the tablet's motherboard in the lab. the concept of computer hardware, mobile phone, electronic, repairing and technology.

We Need a Better Test for True AI Intelligence

Better than Turing or Lovelace. The difficulty is that intelligence, like randomness, is mathematically undefinable

The operation of human intelligence must be non-physical because it transcends Turing machines, which in turn transcend every physical mechanism.

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Quell the cell and kids do well?

That sounds simplistic but it worked at a girls’ school in New Zealand

High goals, discipline and, perhaps most critically, a ban on cellphones, have seen St Joseph’s Maori Girls College reach the top 10 for University Entrance in this year’s high-school league tables, the NZ Herald reports.

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gloved hands with the laboratory tubes
Bacteria in Petri dish

Even Bacteria Are Purpose-Driven

The recent finding that bacteria can make individual decisions may help design better antibiotics

Does this mean that bacteria have free will? Not really; as Michael Egnor reminds us, free will is an immaterial quality of the reasoning mind. Life forms that lack a reasoning mind make decisions based only on their needs or desires.

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Astonishing Windup Robots Still Work, Centuries Later

New science discoveries prompted our ancestors to ask, how much can we make them do?

Eighteenth-century Swiss watchmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz (1721–1790) is remembered today for his workshop's “humanoid automata” or robots, the Draftsman, the Musician, and the Writer.

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