Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategoryNatural Intelligence

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Does information theory support design in nature?

William Dembski makes a convincing case, using accepted information theory principles relevant to computer science
Intelligent design theory is sometimes said to lack any practical application. One straightforward application is that, because intelligence can create information and computation cannot, human interaction will improve computational performance. Read More ›
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George Gilder explains what’s wrong with “Google Marxism”

In discussion with Mark Levin, host of Life, Liberty & Levin
Gilder: Marx’s great error, his real mistake, was to imagine that the industrial revolution of the 19th century, all those railways and “dark, satanic mills” and factories and turbine and the beginning of electricity represented the final human achievement in productivity so in the future what would matter is not the creation of wealth but the redistribution of wealth. Read More ›
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Do we just imagine design in nature?

Or is seeing design fundamental to discovering and using nature’s secrets?
Michael Egnor reflects on the way in which the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has so often gone to those who intuit or impose desire or seek the purpose of things. Read More ›
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Does your brain construct your conscious reality? Part II

In a word, no. Your brain doesn't "think"; YOU think, using your brain
The brain understands nothing, imagines nothing, sees nothing. It wills nothing. We understand, we imagine, we see, and we will, using our brains. Read More ›
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Does your brain construct your conscious reality? Part I

A reply to computational neuroscientist Anil Seth's recent TED talk
His talk is a breathtaking compendium of fallacies on the mind and the brain. We can learn a lot from him—by understanding the errors into which he falls and the way out of those errors. Read More ›
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Inner peace: Is there software for that?

Tech billionaire funds neuroscience in a search for the secret of contentment
His approach to neuroscience is very different from that of the Dalai Lama, who facilitates neuroscience research to better understand contemplation as a path to inner peace. Chen’s focus is more on developing virtual reality. Read More ›
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The Hills Go High Tech

An American community finding its way in the new digital economy
At present, says Hochschild, Ankur Gopal and Interapt are sourcing as many new hillbillies as they can find: “For now, there is so much demand for I.T. workers — 10,000 estimated openings by 2020 in the Louisville metro area alone — that Mr. Gopal is reaching out to new groups. Read More ›
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Apes Can Be Generous

Are they just like humans then?
If we are to genuinely understand machines, animals, and ourselves, we need to clearly understand that it is the immateriality of human intellect and will—our capacity to think and act abstractly— that makes us radically (i.e. ontologically) different from any animal or machine. Read More ›
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Is the octopus a “second genesis of intelligence”?

Can its strange powers provide insights for robotics or the human mind?
What’s really interesting about these stories is that, while we are learning that there is much intelligence in the animal (and plant) world, including some that can be applied to robotics, very little sheds light on explicitly human intelligence. Read More ›
George Montañez

What is learning anyway?

Machine learning specialist George Montañez reflects on the question in a video excerpt from the CNAI gala
Can we make approximations that are so close to ourselves that the fact that they are approximations no longer matters? Read More ›
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Will killer drones make killing easier?

That, says a bioethicist, depends on who the pilots are
Heather Zeiger tells us that traditional aerial combat pilots tend to think the same way when piloting drones from an office but it may be a different story when cell phone addicts, who tend to lack empathy, are recruited. Read More ›
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Do big brains matter to human intelligence?

We don’t know. Brain research readily dissolves into confusion at that point
We also know very little about the human brain. Take this controversy about why the large human brain evolved... Read More ›
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Why machines can’t think as we do

As philosopher Michael Polanyi noted, much that we know is hard to codify or automate
Human life is full of these challenges. Some knowledge simply cannot be conveyed—or understood or accepted—in a propositional form. For example, a nurse counselor may see clearly that her elderly post-operative patient would thrive better in a retirement home. But she cannot just tell him so. Read More ›
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Why can’t machines learn simple tasks?

They can learn to play chess more easily than to walk
If specifically human intelligence is related to consciousness, the robotics engineers might best leave consciousness out of their goals for their products and focus on more tangible ones. Read More ›
MRI brain : Brain tumor at right parietal lobe

Boy loses large hunk of brain

And is “doing just fine”
When pundits talk glibly of creating artificial minds or claim that consciousness is an illusion, it might help to remember that few predicted cases like this could exist and few thought that high tech diagnostics would lead to their discovery. Read More ›
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GIGO alert: AI can be racist and sexist, researchers complain

Can the bias problem be addressed? Yes, but usually after someone gets upset about a specific instance.

From James Zou and Londa Ziebinger at Nature: When Google Translate converts news articles written in Spanish into English, phrases referring to women often become ‘he said’ or ‘he wrote’. Software designed to warn people using Nikon cameras when the person they are photographing seems to be blinking tends to interpret Asians as always blinking. Word embedding, a popular algorithm used to process and analyse large amounts of natural-language data, characterizes European American names as pleasant and African American ones as unpleasant. Now where, we wonder, would a mathematical formula have learned that? Maybe it was listening to the wrong instructions back when it was just a tiny bit? Seriously, machine learning, we are told, depends on  absorbing datasets of Read More ›

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Jay Richards asks, can training for an AI future be trusted to bureaucrats?

We hear so much about how the AI revolution gobbles industrial era jobs that we don't notice the digital era jobs unfilled.

On Tuesday, entrepreneur Ivanka Trump told Wall Street Journal readers, The assembly line, energy plant and retail store have changed dramatically in the past 25 years—and the jobs have, too. Nearly 1 in 5 working Americans has a job that didn’t exist in 1980, many in technology, the fastest-growing segment across all industries. Such rapid change is one reason 6.6 million U.S. jobs are currently unfilled. More. Currently unfilled? We hear so much about how the AI revolution is gobbling industrial era jobs that the shortage of people trained for digital era jobs takes a while to register. Trump goes on to discuss new legislation to address the shortage by providing more relevant education to future jobseekers (paywall). Meanwhile, from the Read More ›

Dr. Michael Egnor, M.D.

Neurosurgeon outlines why machines can’t think

The hallmark of human thought is meaning, and the hallmark of computation is indifference to meaning.
A cornerstone of the development of artificial intelligence is the pervasive assumption that machines can, or will, think. Watson, a question-answering computer, beats the best Jeopardy players, and anyone who plays chess has had the humiliation of being beaten by a chess engine. Does this mean that computers can think as well as (or better than) humans think? Read More ›
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AI machines taking over the world?

It’s a cool apocalypse but does that make it more likely?
Doomsday thinking is easily mocked. The character marching  hairy and barefoot under his “End Is Near” sign, is a staple of cartoons in middlebrow mags. Yet when media magnets market doomsday scenarios—like the late Stephen Hawking (“worst event in the history of our civilization”) and Elon Musk (“an immortal dictator from which we would never escape”) — it’s a Cool apocalypse. Read More ›