Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryPhilosophy of Mind

Artificial Intelligence Playing Go

The Game-Playing AI Does Not Always Win, It Turns Out

Enterprising researchers beat KataGo at Go by taking advantage of its known blind spots

At Vice, science writer Tatyana Woodall tells us that clever researchers developed a rival adversarial AI to trick KataGo into losing games: Players have often used KataGo to test their skills, train for other matches, and even analyze past games, yet in a study posted recently on the preprint server arXiv, researchers report that by using an adversarial policy—a kind of machine-learning algorithm built to attack or learn weaknesses in other systems—they’ve been able to beat KataGo at its own game between 50 to 99 percent of the time, depending on how much “thinking ahead” the AI does. Funnily enough, the new system doesn’t win by trumping KataGo all out, but instead by forcing KataGo into a corner, essentially tricking Read More ›

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Flying bird of prey golden eagle with large wingspan, photo with snowflakes during winter, stone mountain, Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria wildlife. Eagle sunset. Eastern Rhodopes rock with eagle.

Neanderthal Man Had a Thing for Big Eagles — and Hyenas

But we haven’t found evidence that Neanderthals were much interested in dogs

Although technically a dog expert, Mark Derr has given some thought since the 1990s to Neanderthal man who seems to get smarter each time we study him: For instance, Neanderthal appears to have mastered and used fire for a variety of purposes including cooking after their appearance in Eurasia some 300,000 or more years ago. They also made carvings into ivory, and they almost certainly communicated using speech. To show how slowly attitudes change, I have recently seen people speculate that Neanderthal may have only seasonally had fire, but in general were incapable of igniting tinder on their own. This view recently received what would appear to be a mortal blow when Ceren Kabukcu and colleagues revealed that Neanderthal not Read More ›

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Macro concept of a brain connecting to pure love and intent

Why Many Researchers Now See the Brain as a Quantum System

The hypothesis is that the brain relies on quantum physics, not classical physics, to power thinking processes

Astrophysicist and science writer Elizabeth Fernandez asks us to consider whether quantum processes might help us understand better how the brain works and shed light on consciousness: Some scientists suspect that quantum processes, including entanglement, might help us explain the brain’s enormous power, and its ability to generate consciousness. Recently, scientists at Trinity College Dublin, using a technique to test for quantum gravity, suggested that entanglement may be at work within our brains. If their results are confirmed, they could be a big step toward understanding how our brain, including consciousness, works. Elizabeth Fernandez, “Brain experiment suggests that consciousness relies on quantum entanglement” at Big Think (November 22, 2022) The paper is open access. Her thesis is that the brain Read More ›

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Venus flytrap is one of the carnivore plants

A Science Writer Makes the Case for Plants as Conscious Beings

Annaka Harris, neuroscience and physics writer, starts by casting doubt on human consciousness

Annaka Harris, a science writer focusing on neuroscience and physics and the author of Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind (2019), challenges us to reflect on two points: 1) In a system that we know has conscious experiences — the human brain — what evidence of consciousness can we detect from the outside? 2) Is consciousness essential to our behavior? The editor notes, introducing an excerpt from the book, “But how sure can we be that plants aren’t conscious? And what if what we take to be behavior indicating consciousness can be replicated with no conscious agent involved? Annaka Harris invites us to consider the real possibility that our intuitions about consciousness might be mere Read More ›

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Tribe of Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers Wearing Animal Skins Stand Around Bonfire Outside of Cave at Night. Portrait of Neanderthal / Homo Sapiens Family Doing Pagan Religion Ritual Near Fire

Our Ancestors Were Cooking Much Earlier Than Thought

The more we learn about early humans, the more sophisticated we find their culture to be

Recent findings suggest that some things we take for granted in human civilizations are much older than thought. Now, these findings are provisional but they are worth looking at: The owl stones from 5,500 and 4,750 years ago may be children’s art: But new research suggests the palm-sized plaques decorated in geometric patterns and with two engraved circles at the top might be the work of children. Numbering in the thousands and made from slate, the owl-like objects – previously dated the stone objects to be between 5,500 and 4,750 years old – may be “the archaeological trace of playful and learning activities carried out by youngsters,” according to the team of Spanish researchers behind the new study… They suggest Read More ›

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Near death experience ascend up towards the light in the dark tunnel

Study: 1 in 5 Cardiac Patients May Have Near-Death Experience

The researchers found spikes of brain activity, including so-called gamma, delta, theta, alpha, and beta waves up to an hour into CPR

Recent research shows that one in five people who survive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) after a heart attack ‘may describe lucid experiences of death that occurred while they were seemingly unconscious and on the brink of death”: Led by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and elsewhere, the study involved 567 men and women whose hearts stopped beating while hospitalized and who received CPR between May 2017 and March 2020 in the United States and United Kingdom. Despite immediate treatment, fewer than 10% recovered sufficiently to be discharged from hospital. Survivors reported having unique lucid experiences, including a perception of separation from the body, observing events without pain or distress, and a meaningful evaluation of life, including of their actions, Read More ›

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Programming code script abstract screen of software developer.

Computers Are Not Persons Because Computing Is Not Thinking

Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks discusses the issues with human dignity advocate Wesley J. Smith

Recently, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed human dignity advocate Wesley J. Smith on the seeming science fiction question of “Can a computer be a person?” (November 10, 2022, podcast 212): https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/11/Mind-Matters-212-Robert-Marks.mp3 Here are a couple of highlights: About Alexa: Wesley J. Smith: I was going to ask you about Alexa because she may come on in behind me. Of course, she’s not a she. That’s just a female-sounding voice. But I can ask, we’ll call her A, so she doesn’t come on, what time it is and she’ll tell me immediately. I can tell her to play certain music and she’ll play it immediately. How does that operate? I mean, she’s not… That program is not intelligent, Read More ›

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Data center cloud connection network router and switch

Researchers: The Brain’s Claustrum Acts as a Router for Thoughts

Francis Crick thought the claustrum might be the “seat of consciousness,” an inherently materialist concept. The researchers think he was wrong.

Remember Francis Crick (1916–2004) and The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994)?: “You, your joys and sorrows, your memories and ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will are, in fact, no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased it: ‘You’re nothing but a pack of neurons’.” Crick focused on the brain region known as the claustrum as closely tied to consciousness. According to University of Maryland medical researchers, he thought of it as the “seat of consciousness.” Now, the very concept of a “seat of consciousness” assumes that consciousness is a material thing that needs a seat. In other words, consciousness must be found specifically in one place and not Read More ›

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Equestrian sport - dressage

Do Centaurs Really Exist? The Surprising Truth

Well, a half human/half horse cannot literally exist — but the way horses and humans work together has been called a “miracle”

Classical Greek mythology featured the “centaur,” a creature that was half human, half horse. Neuroscientist and horse trainer Janet Jones, author of Horse Brain, Human Brain: The Neuroscience of Horsemanship (Trafalgar Square, 2020), tells us that there is a truth behind the myth (as so often). In what amounts to a “neurobiological miracle,” the horse — a prey animal — and the human — a predator — can learn complete neurological co-operation to perform complex feats that neither can manage alone. How complex are these equestrian feats? Horse-and-human teams perform complex manoeuvres in competitions of all sorts. Together, we can gallop up to obstacles standing 8 feet (2.4 metres) high, leave the ground, and fly blind – neither party able Read More ›

human head chakra powerful inspiration tree abstract thinking inside your mind watercolor painting illustration hand drawn
human head powerful inspiration tree abstract thinking inside your mind watercolor painting illustration hand drawn

Sabine Hossenfelder, Taking on Consciousness, Tackles Panpsychism

She wants to apologize to all carrots who are watching her video — but carrots are not watching and that’s the point

Recently, I’ve been looking ( here and here) at theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder’s argument that quantum mechanics does not show that consciousness is essential for understanding the universe. The topic has become very interesting because of the growth of panpsychism in science — which Hossenfelder references in the video. Panpsychism is the belief that all of nature participates in some way in consciousness but that it is most highly developed in humans. Many prefer it to materialism because the panpsychist does not need to show that human consciousness is some kind of illusion that we evolved to believe in (?). It is part of the normal functioning of the universe even if we don’t understand how it works. To see Read More ›

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3D illustration of Interconnected neurons with electrical pulses.

Science Isn’t Even Possible Apart From Non-Material Consciousness

Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder tries hard to argue against that conclusion but things do not go well…

A couple of days ago, we were looking at the way theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder grapples with the way quantum mechanics has undermined materialism. Whether and how we choose to measure something has a big impact, which makers consciousness very difficult to just explain away. Here is her most helpful video on the topic (all the more helpful, one might say, because she is so clearly unhappy with the outcome!): “Does Consciousness Influence Quantum Effects?” (November 19, 2022) Nobelist Eugene Wigner (1902–1995) was one of the physicists who explored the problem. Hossenfelder points to his famous “Wigner’s friend experiment.” (3:01). Here is an illustration from a different source: Essentially, as Wigner pointed out in 1961, a basic building block of Read More ›

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Quantum Physics Axed Materialism. Many Hope the World Won’t Know

Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder struggles to explain how quantum mechanics is consistent with materialism

Quantum mechanics, which developed in the early twentieth century, has been a serious blow to materialism. There is no way to make sense of it if immaterial entities like information, observation, or the mind are not real. Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder struggles against the effects of this fact. In a recent video, she asks, “Does Consciousness Influence Quantum Effects?” (November 19, 2022) She asks, why did some physicists like von Neumann and Wigner think that consciousness is necessary to make sense of quantum mechanics, and can consciousness influence the outcome of a quantum experiment? (0:33) Well, they had good reason. Any effort to exclude consciousness from reality fails. Hossenfelder, a hostile witness, kindly offers an example from the work of Read More ›

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Mouse Cursor Clicking CAPTCHA

CAPTCHA: How Fooling Machines Is Different From Fooling Humans

Automated censorship is intended to protect against a tidal wave of spam but it could certainly have other uses…

Readers of Mind Matters News have likely heard of the iconic Turing test. Computer pioneer Alan Turing famously invented a test to determine whether a program could pass as a human. The gist is, if a program can fool human testers into believing it is a human, then the program is intelligent. Not everyone is convinced. Thing is, it doesn’t take much to fool us humans! Take Eliza , a program of only a few hundred lines, written in the 60s, which fooled many people into believing it was a real human therapist. But what if we flip the Turing test on its head? Instead of a test where a program tries to pass as human, we use a test Read More ›

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Evil robot, glowing lights, shiny metalic parts

So, Can a Computer Really Be Irrational?

Computer prof Robert J. Marks tells Wesley J. Smith: No, and here’s why … from his experience

In a recent episode at Mind Matters News podcasting, “Can a computer be a person?” (November 10, 2022), Robert J. Marks and Wesley J. Smith discussed that in connection with Marks’s new book, Non-Computable You: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/11/Mind-Matters-212-Robert-Marks.mp3 Some excerpts: Wesley J. Smith: Let me ask the question in a different way. Can an AI ever be irrational? Robert J. Marks: Yes. Irrational in the sense of being irrational from the point of an observer. A classic example, and this happened a number of years ago, was that the Soviets during the Cold War developed a high technology to decide whether the US was being attacked by… I’m sorry, whether the Soviet Union was being attacked by the United States. And so Read More ›

brain like tree
Tree with no leaves shapes like human brain as illustration

Evolution of Human Consciousness SOLVED! — Yet Again, It Seems…

What does the term “evolution” contribute to the discussion of the origin of human consciousness?

At Psychology Today, we read a bold and simple claim about the evolution of consciousness: “A type of information processing called unlimited associative learning (UAL) may be necessary and sufficient for very basic sentience.” The article by University of Toronto psychiatrist Ralph Lewis begins on a very self-assured note: Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. The gradualism of evolution has explained and dissolved life’s mysteries—life’s seemingly irreducible complexity and the illusion that living things possess some sort of mysterious vitalizing essence. So, too, evolution is likely to be key to demystifying the seemingly inexplicable, ethereal nature of consciousness. Ralph Lewis, “Learning May Be the Key to the Evolution of Consciousness” at Psychology Today (November 3, Read More ›

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Summer meadow blow balls landscape painting

Could AI ever pass the Van Gogh test?

Van Gogh was crazy but he was talented and AI can be neither

The Van Gogh Test for sheer creativity? Thursday night at COSM presented a live, in-person interview with Federico Faggin, the Italian physicist and computer engineer who co-won the prestigious Kyoto prize in 1997 for helping develop the Intel 4004 chip. Faggin was interviewed by technology reporter Maria Teresa Cometto, who asked him to regale the audience with tales about helping to design early microchips. Eventually Faggin recounted a time when he was “studying neuroscience and biology, trying to understand how the brain works,” and came upon a startling realization: And at one point I asked myself, “But wait a second, I mean these books, all this talk about electrical signals, biochemical signals, but when I taste some chocolate, I mean Read More ›

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Empty highway surrounded by clouds heading to the light

Life after death receives boost from new research study

The world of Science! certainly isn’t turning out as some have hoped

In recent decades, it has become possible to revive people in various stages of death who, at one time, would have died, leaving no testimony. The news from AWARE II won’t please total materialists at all: The study authors conclude that although studies to date have not been able to absolutely prove the reality or meaning of patients’ experiences and claims of awareness in relation to death, it has been impossible to disclaim them either. They say recalled experience surrounding death now merits further genuine empirical investigation without prejudice. NYU Grossman School of Medicine and NYU Langone Health, “Lucid Dying: Patients Recall Death Experiences During CPR” at Cision PR Newswire (November 6, 2022) Why not assume that those people were Read More ›

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Quantum Nuclear Fusion Entanglement, 3d Representation

As Conscious Observers, Do We Help Create Our World?

That’s the big question in quantum mechanics, as science communicator Elizabeth Fernandez explains

Elizabeth Fernandez asks whether there is “something unique” about the fact that we are conscious observers of our world. Interesting question. Inanimate objects don’t “observe” anything. If the inanimate objects are equipment that we have designed and produced, they may record observations for us that our senses could not make on their own. But they are still our observations because we can understand and interpret them. What about a dog’s observations? Along the lines of what he understands, they may be pretty good. He can pick up the scent of a hare with considerable precision and he is likely quite conscious of what that means and what to do abut it. But dog consciousness has its limits. He not only Read More ›

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Illustration eines Eisbergs

Cormac McCarthy Tries To Make Sense of the Unconscious Mind

He offers shafts of light that make the “hard problem of (un)consciousness” feel less forbidding

In a classic piece at Nautilus, novelist Cormac McCarthy (b. 1933) — author of, among other novels, All the Pretty Horses (1992) and The Road (2007) — muses on the origin and nature of the unconscious mind. As we might expect from a novelist, it’s not his grand theory that is of much use at all. His grand theory is that “the unconscious is a machine for operating an animal,” which makes no sense. He adds, “All animals have an unconscious. If they didnt they would be plants.” How does he know that pond hydras, for example, have an “unconsciousness” but maple trees don’t? Well, he doesn’t. And yet, he also offers shafts of light that make the “Hard Problem Read More ›

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A  jay in its beak holds an acorn. A colorful Eurasian jay sits on a thick oak branch. Close-up. Autumn. Natural blurred background.  Wild nature.

Researchers: More Intelligent Jays Show More Self-Control

The researchers say that the same relationship holds true for cuttlefish, chimpanzees, and humans

A recent study finds that Eurasian jays can pass a version of the “Marshmallow test” and that the smarter jays had the greatest self-control. The original Marshmallow test tested children to see if they could resist eating one marshmallow if they were offered two later. So enterprising researchers decided to try it on smart birds: To test the self-control of ten Eurasian jays, Garrulus glandarius, researchers designed an experiment inspired by the 1972 Stanford Marshmallow test — in which children were offered a choice between one marshmallow immediately, or two if they waited for a period of time. Instead of marshmallows, the jays were presented with mealworms, bread and cheese. Mealworms are a common favourite; bread and cheese come second Read More ›