Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategoryNatural Intelligence

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.

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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 ›

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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Be Reasonable written in neon on a brick wall

An Atheist Argues Against Reason

And thinks it is the reasonable thing to do

Justin Smith is leading the way to the abandonment of rationality. There’s not a shred of reason in his essay.

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MRI Image Brain On Black Background

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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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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A boy's doll face

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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Why AI Can’t Win Wars As If Wars Were Chess Games

Is Vladimir Putin right? Will whoever leads in AI rule the world? It’s not so simple

Whichever country becomes a leader in the sphere of AI and IA will do well. But whichever countries end up following, mindlessly, the advice of these tools will do so at their own great peril.

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Does Social Ability Distinguish Human Intelligence from That of Apes?

Not altogether, of course, but it plays a bigger role than we sometimes assume

In Becoming Human: A Theory of Ontogeny, professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Michael Tomasello tries to understand, from his two decades of research, what makes humans unique. He says that it is not intelligence as such but social intelligence, our “ultra social ability”: One of our most important studies was a huge study we did with over 100 human children and over 100 chimpanzees. We gave them a big battery of tests – a big IQ test if you will. It covered understanding of space, causality, quantities, as well as social learning, communication, reading the intentions of others. We found that 2-year-old children – before they can read or do anything mathematical – look just like the apes on physical Read More ›

Petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock, Utah, USA.
Ancient symbols texture, Petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock, Utah, USA.

The Origin of Language Remains Obscure

One problem is that information is not measured in science in a way that relates to matter and energy.

Human language is much more than a system of signals. And two recent articles in Inference Review provide insight into some of its ongoing puzzles in the huge unmapped territory of the interaction between the mind and the brain.

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Thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) blossoms and buds macro picture
Thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) in bloom

Researchers: Yes, Plants Have Nervous Systems Too

Not only that but, like mammals, they use glutamate to speed transmission

Nature is so full of information whose origin we cannot really account for under currently acceptable hypotheses but nothing prevents us from using it to our advantage in the meantime.

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