Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategoryNatural Intelligence

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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A cat looking up to the left

Study: Cats Do Recognize Their Names

They recognize them as signals but not as abstractions

It’s a sobering fact that the war on human exceptionalism makes nonsense of our ability to understand animals. If we start with the fact that a cat cannot understand abstractions like “my name” because he is not a reasoning creature, we can intuit that most cats can learn human sounds that make a difference to them anyway.

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Boy with glasses looking through blue fence

STEM Education 8: Help Create Creativity

Creativity diminishes with age, in part because we dig ourselves into ruts that limit our field of view.

An aging STEM nerd digs more and deeper ruts and creative thinking becomes more and more difficult. For this reason, I remain tolerant of graduate students with new and seemingly wacky ideas.

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Colorful bluestreak cleaner wrasse on black background.
A bluestreak cleaner wrasse, Labroides dimidiatus, on a black background. This small colorful fish can be found on coral reefs Africa, Red Sea and Polynesia

Did a fish just show self-awareness?

What if the whole question is founded on a mistake about the nature of the mirror test?

Overall, it’s a curious outcome for the mirror test. Those who felt reassured by close kinship with chimpanzees reacted quite differently when offered close kinship with fish.

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Silhouette of a female as training her dog - website banner
Silhouette of a female as training her dog - website banner

The Real Reason Why Only Human Beings Speak

Language is a tool for abstract thinking—a necessary tool for abstraction—and humans are the only animals who think abstractly

In his discussion of why only humans have language, science writer Tom Siegfried gets a lot right, but he misses the crucial reason.

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