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Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategoryPhilosophy of Mind

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Kastrup: No, Consciousness CANNOT Be Just a Byproduct

Philosopher Bernardo Kastrup responds to biologist Jerry Coyne’s claim that consciousness could be a mere by-product of a useful evolved trait

In response to Biologist Jerry Coyne’s claim that consciousness is merely a byproduct of a useful evolved trait, computer engineer and philosopher Bernardo Kastrup points out that consciousness, which requires vast organized, underlying complexity, is one of the most difficult unsolved problems in science. It cannot be a mere accidental byproduct of something else.

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Sagrada Familia
Spandrels within the interior arches of the Sagrada Familia

Did Consciousness Evolve?: A Darwinist Responds

Jerry Coyne argues that consciousness is a mere byproduct of useful traits that are naturally selected. But wait…

The critical problem that consciousness poses for Darwinian evolution is that there is no survival advantage for subjective first-person existence over objective third-person existence.

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Photo by Hannes Richter

Bernardo Kastrup: Consciousness cannot have evolved

How many joules of consciousness would make you a human instead of a chimpanzee? How many more joules of consciousness would make you a genius?

Computer scientist and philosopher Bernardo Kastrup argues that evolution deals with things that can be measured quantitatively but consciousness cannot be quantified. 

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Futuristic and technological scanning of the face of a beautiful woman for facial recognition and scanning to ensure personal safety.

Teaching Computers Common Sense Is Very Hard

Those fancy voice interfaces are little more than immense lookup tables guided by complex statistics

Researchers at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) published a paper recently, deflating claims of rapid progress toward giving computers common sense.

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Quantum particle, quantum mechanics

Quantum Mechanics Shows That Our Universe Has Purpose

Not only can two physically separated particles influence each other, they can influence each other through time

Recent experiments in entanglement of particles in time as well as space show that our entire universe is imbued with final causality within its very fabric. This final causality must come from some source beyond the universe.

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rib-eye steaks cooking on flaming grill panorama

Meat has no opinions

Why you can't actually deny free will

If we are just meat, as evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne insists, we cannot have a true opinion of the matter. Meat is neither right nor wrong. To have an opinion about free will implies that we accept it.

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Dark matter black and white abstract background

Could Information Be — at Long Last — the Missing Dark Matter?

Materialist thinkers may need to see information as material, whether that approach fits information or not

There is no evidence that information is dark matter or that consciousness is physical but materialists understandably long for evidence that would make their theory more viable.

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robot work on microscope

Will an AI Win a Nobel Prize for Science All by Itself One Day?

No, but Support Vector Machines (SVMs) can allow scientists to frame questions so that a comprehensible answer is more likely

AI can certainly help scientists. But to understand why AI can’t do science on its own, we should take a look at the NP-Hard Problem in computer science. The “Hard” is in the name of the problem for a reason… 

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Connected neurons or nerve cells- 3d illustration

Why Would Philosophers Deny That Consciousness Is Real?

Because, says computer scientist Bernardo Kastrup, the materialism they are committed to makes no sense and that’s the best they can do

A Dutch computer scientist and philosopher who has reflected deeply on the mind–matter problem finds himself asking, how can serious scientists or philosophers convince themselves that their own consciousness “doesn’t exist” or is a “mistaken construct”? What, exactly, is thinking the thought that their consciousness doesn’t exist? I want to understand what makes the consciousness of an intelligent human being deny its own existence with a straight face. For I find this denial extremely puzzling for both philosophical and psychological reasons. Don’t get me wrong, the motivation behind the denial is obvious enough: it is to tackle a vexing problem by magically wishing it out of existence. As a matter of fact, the ‘whoa-factor’ of this magic gets eliminativists and Read More ›

Photo by Bret Kavanaugh

Yes, Split Brains Are Weird, But Not the Way You Think

Scientists who dismiss consciousness and free will ignore the fact that the higher faculties of the mind cannot be split even by splitting the brain in half

Patients after split-brain surgery are not split people. They feel the same, act the same, and think the same, for all intents and purposes. Materialists like Jerry Coyne focus on subtle differences and distort the big picture.

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Panorama starry landscape. Panorama of the universe. Planet and stars rise.

Scientific American Explores Panpsychism… Respectfully

This is a major change. At one time, a science mag would merely ridicule the idea of a conscious universe

Make no mistake, panpsychism—as Goff elucidates it—is a purely naturalist view (“nothing supernatural or spiritual”). But, unlike the village atheist, he goes on to ask, but then what is nature? Matter is all there is? But what is matter? It turns out, no one really knows.

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Futuristic Robot Arm Touches Human Hand in Humanity and Artificial Intelligence Unifying Gesture. Conscious Technology Meets Humanity. Concept Inspired by Michelangelo's Creation of Adam

Can Machines Be Given Consciousness?

A prominent researcher in consciousness studies offers reasons for doubt

Two theories of human consciousness are about to be tested in a historic contest. Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of consciousness and rival Global Workspace Theory (GWT) have sharply different implications for consciousness in machines.

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Man caressing a tame black fox

Tame Animals, Not Wild Ones, Are Mysterious

A recent discovery about tame foxes sheds some light but deepens the larger mystery

New research puts us back where we started. The foxes are tame. But why are they tame? Other foxes are decidedly not tame. Why is it so easy to “tame” dogs and cats but not wolves and bobcats? 

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3d rendered illustration of karate dojo background. Karate school is out of focus to be used as a photographic backdrop.

What Did the Computer Learn in the Chinese Room? Nothing.

Computers don’t “understand” things and they can’t handle ambiguity, says Robert J. Marks

Larry L. Linenschmidt interviews Robert J. Marks on the difference between performing a task and understanding the task, as explained in philosopher John Searle’s famous “Chinese Room” thought experiment.

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Photo by Daniil Kuželev

Researchers: Our Conscious Visual Perception Lies Outside Our Visual Cortex

They concluded that the end step of perceiving where objects are occurs in the frontal lobes, a finding they describe as “radical”

A major consequence of the advance of modern neuroscience is that we now “know” so much less than we used to. But what we do know points us in promising research directions.

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Photo by NeONBRAND

Why Materialism Fails as a Science-Based Philosophy

I don’t believe that either panpsychism or cosmopsychism is true. But I have some sympathy with people who hold those views

There is no doubt that consciousness is a fundamental property of animal and human existence. As philosopher Philip Goff notes, a philosophy like materialism that cannot plausibly account for it cannot be correct.

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Face made of shiny metal cubes. Looking Down.3d render

2019 AI Hype Countdown #5: Transhumanism never grows old

The idea that we can upload our brains to computers to avoid death shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the differences between types of thinking

Computers are very effective but they operate with a very limited set of causal abilities. Humans work from an entirely different set of causal abilities. Uploading your brain to a computer is not a question of technology. It can’t work in principle.

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Usb charging port in woman's neck, cyborg woman concept.

2019 AI Hype Countdown #10: Sophia the Robot Still Gives “Interviews”

In other news, few popular media ask critical questions

As a humanoid robot, Sophia certainly represents some impressive engineering. It is sad that the engineering fronts ridiculous claims about the state of AI, using partially scripted interactions as if they were real communication.

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Zen garden stones on sand with pattern, top view. Meditation and harmony

Yes, Consciousness Is Real But That’s Not the Half of It

Philosopher Massimo Pigliucci ends up skating deftly around the main problems

Those who would understand immaterial realities like consciousness should not speak so disrespectfully of dualism as Dr. Pigliucci does.

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Computer algorithm productivity efficiency, cyber security concepts

Why we don’t think like computers

If we thought like computers, we would repeat package directions over and over again unless someone told us to stop

Robert J. Marks: We have a number of aspects that we exhibit that are not algorithmic. I would say, qualia, creativity, sentience, consciousness are probably things that you cannot write a computer program to simulate.

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