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Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategoryPhilosophy of Mind

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Double exposure portrait of attractive and young girl

Philosopher: Consciousness is Not a Problem. Dualism Is!

Physicalist David Papineau says consciousness is just “brain processes that feel like something”

Physicalist David Papineau  argues that consciousness “seems mysterious not because of any hidden essence, but only because we think about it in a special way.” In short, it's all in our heads. But wait, say others, the hard problem of consciousness is not so easily dismissed.

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Why Is Science Growing Comfortable with Panpsychism (“Everything Is Conscious”)?

At one time, the idea that “everything is conscious” was the stuff of jokes. Not any more, it seems

A recent article at New Scientist treats panpsychism as a serious idea in science. That’s thanks to the growing popularity of neuroscientist Giulio Tonioni’s Integrated Information Theory (IIT), which offers the opportunity for mathematical modeling, along with the implication that inanimate matter and/or the universe may be conscious. If IIT continues to gain a sympathetic hearing, panpsychism could become, over time, a part of normal science.

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The Creative Brain

Is There a Creativity Module in the Brain?

Both hemispheres are important for creativity, according to recent research, but the adventure lies beyond

What we are really learning is that minute mapping of the brain is not likely to give us a complete explanation of creativity. Let alone a means of control. Answers, when they appear, lie in the immaterial world of the mind.

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person holding gray and brown fish

Jerry Coyne Just Can’t Give Up Denying Free Will

Coyne’s denial of free will, based on determinism, is science denial and junk metaphysics

Some day, I predict, there will be a considerable psychiatric literature on the denial of free will. It’s essentially a delusion dressed up as science. To insist that your neurotransmitters completely control your choices is no different than insisting that your television or your iphone control your thoughts. It’s crazy.

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Digital mind

Why Our Minds Can’t Really Be Uploaded to Computers

The basic problem is that human minds aren’t “computable.” Peter and Jane are not bits and bytes

The underlying problem with creating immortality by uploading our minds to computers is that people are conscious and even the most sophisticated foreseeable computers are not. And we are not at all sure what consciousness even IS.

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Shirts

Why Your Computer Will Never Talk to You

As a jokester recently demonstrated, even “shirts without stripes” is a fundamental, unsolvable problem for computers

At first, “shirts without stripes” might not seem like much of an issue but it turns out that many important and interesting problems for computers fundamentally reduce to this “halting problem.” And understanding human language is one of these problems.

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Machine learning technology diagram with artificial intelligence (AI),neural network,automation,data mining in VR screen.businessman hand working with modern technology and digital layer effect.

Can Human Minds Be Reduced to Computer Programs?

In Silicon Valley that has long been a serious belief. But are we really anywhere close?

Computer scientist Selmer Bringsjord recalls, “I remember asking James Moor, the Dartmouth professor who’s written quite a bit on AI: “You know. Jim, you really are a true believer in this stuff but can you tell me how much time you’re willing to give these AI people? I mean, if we give them another thousand years, and we still don’t have cognition as I’ve characterized it… Are you going to be skeptical now?” He was, I suppose, as an academic, predictably clever and evasive, but the bottom line is, we don’t have this cognition captured.

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Sick girl lying on the hospital bed and her mom kiss to support.

Can People in Comas Have Abstract Thoughts?

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor discusses how we might test for that ability

In the recent podcast, “Michael Egnor on Whether People in Comas Can Think,” Robert J. Marks raised an interesting point with Egnor: Can people in comas think abstractly or do they form thoughts only at a much more basic level, given how physically distressed they are? The answer might surprise you.

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Open and closed.

Is There Really a “Rubber Hand” Illusion?

A venerable claim in psychology, that our minds are easily fooled about our bodies, comes under fire
It sounds as though too many people know too much about what to expect for any raw data about human cognition to be recovered from the Rubber Hand illusion. Read More ›
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Robot and human cooperating in jigsaw puzzle

Thinking Machines? Has the Lovelace Test Been Passed?

Surprising results do not equate to creativity. Is there such a thing as machine creativity?

The feats of machines like AlphaGo are due to superior computational power, not to creativity at originating new ideas. Computer scientist Selmer Bringsjord sees the ability to write, say, a novel of ideas as a more realistic test of human vs. computer achievement.

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The poetry of Love

Thinking Machines? The Lovelace Test Raises the Stakes

The Turing test has had a free ride in science media for far too long, says an AI expert

In the view of Rensselaer philosopher and computer scientist Selmer Bringsjord, the iconic Turing test for human-like intelligence in computers is inadequate and easily gamed. Merely sounding enough like a human to fool people does not establish human-like intelligence. He proposes the much more challenging Lovelace test, based on an observation from computer pioneer Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) that true creativity is what distinguishes humans from machines.

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Sick mature woman lying in bed

Can Loved Ones in a Coma Hear Us?

Modern brain imaging studies show that very often they can. And, with help from new technology, they can answer us too

Pioneering research using brain imaging (fMRI) over the last fifteen years has shown that, even in deep coma, people can hear, understand, and respond. It’s no longer just anecdotes from caregivers. The controversial Terri Schiavo case might be decided very differently today.

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If Your Brain Were Cut in Half, Would You Still Be One Person?

Yes, with minor disabilities. Roger Sperry’s split-brain research convinced him that the mind and free will are real

The true significance of the split-brain experiments goes far beyond the significance of the lateralization of the brain; your essential unity also points to the immaterial nature of the mind.

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A Scientific Test for True Intelligence

A scientific test should identify precisely what humans can do that computers cannot, avoiding subjective opinion

The “broken checkerboard” is not the ultimate scientific test for intelligence that we need. But it is a truly scientific test in the sense that it is capable of falsifying the theory that the mind is reducible to computation.

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magician hands with magic wand showing trick

Current Artificial Intelligence Research Is Unscientific

The assumption that the human mind can be reduced to a computer program has never really been tested

Because AI research is based on a fundamental assumption that has not been scientifically tested—that the human mind can be reduced to a computer—then the research itself cannot be said to be scientific.

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Jeffrey Shallit, a computer scientist, doesn’t know how computers work

Patterns in computers only have meaning when they are caused by humans programming and using them.

Materialism is a kind of intellectual disability that afflicts even the well-educated. To put it simply, machines don’t and can’t think. Dr. Shallit’s wristwatch doesn’t know what time it is. Dr. Shallit’s iPod doesn’t enjoy the music it plays or listen to his phone calls. His television doesn’t like or dislike movies. And his computer doesn’t, and can’t, think.

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Math Shows Why the Mind Is Not Just a Formula

The Liar’s Paradox shows that even mathematics cannot be reduced to a fixed set of axioms

Gödel’s discovery brought back a sense of wonder to mathematics and to the rest of human knowledge. His incompleteness theorem underlies the fact that human investigation can never exhaust all that can be known. Every discovery builds a path to a new discovery.

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Western lowland gorilla, Gorilla gorilla

How Not To Debate Materialists

This is the story of how a gifted scientist lost a debate with a Darwinist — a debate he should have won

Although ape brains do differ somewhat from human brains in cortical anatomy, it is the similarity between the brains of apes and men, rather than the differences, that provide striking evidence of human exceptionalism.

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Choosing the High Road or Low Road

How Libet’s Free Will Research Is Misrepresented

Sometimes, says Michael Egnor, misrepresentation may be deliberate because Libet’s work doesn’t support a materialist perspective

“Neuroscientist Benjamin Libet’s experiments are described very often both in the scientific literature and in the popular press as supportive of materialism—which is something that they don’t support and something that Libet made very clear was not his conclusion.” – Michael Egnor

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How a Neuroscientist Imaged Free Will (and “Free Won’t”)

At first, Libet thought that free will might not be real. Then he looked again…

Neuroscientist Benjamin Libet (1916–2007), who studied measured brain activity as people make decisions, came across the power of “free won’t”: an apparently free decision not to do something we had decided on earlier.

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