Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategoryPhilosophy of Mind

the-poetry-of-love-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpeg
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.

Read More ›
sick-mature-woman-lying-in-bed-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpeg
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.

Read More ›
Man with double face expression isolated on gray background

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.

Read More ›
texture checkered fabric toned classic blue color

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.

Read More ›
magician-hands-with-magic-wand-showing-trick-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpeg
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.

Read More ›
Young businesswoman thinking while using a laptop at work

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.

Read More ›
ft9104_7833

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.

Read More ›
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.

Read More ›
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

Read More ›
Green wavy parrot is sitting on a white cage. The parrot looks out of the cage.

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.

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

Meet the Serious Panpsychists

These are not the "Rocks have minds!" people. They are getting a hearing about the serious problems materialism faces with understanding consciousness

No good theories of consciousness match up with current science beliefs. The panpsychists, who ask us to consider that perhaps consciousness pervades the universe, force the issue, as put by Philip Goff: “If a general theory of reality has no place for consciousness, then that theory cannot be true.”

Read More ›
Digital Brain

Are We Doomed Unless We Get Ourselves Digitized?

A tech writer suggests humans can escape Earth’s end by digitizing ourselves elsewhere in the galaxy

Today’s apocalyptic vision seems now to have moved on from the arrival of the extraterrestrials to uploading ourselves to a supercomputer. Whether it’s possible is really secondary. The main question is whether it answers a cultural need for a vision that mirrors the inner turmoil of the day.

Read More ›
Choose your way

How Did “Wanting” Things Emerge?

Agency (“wanting” or “deciding” things) is as hard a problem in physics as consciousness

Rocks don’t resist becoming sand but plants resist, by various strategies, becoming insect food. All life forms seem to need and want things; the most intelligent ones want more complex and less obviously necessary things. At New Scientist, we are told that wanting things is a “superpower” that physics can’t explain. But are we asking the wrong questions?

Read More ›
mental mind sport motivation concept of young handsome strong man with beard wearing black jersey concentration relaxation in sport gym

The Mind Is the Opposite of a Computer

Matthew Cobb, a materialist, only scratches the surface when he explains why your brain is not a computer

Mental activity always has meaning—every thought is about something. Computation, by contrast, always lacks meaning in itself. A word processing program doesn’t care about the opinion that you’re expressing when you use it. In fact, what makes computation so useful is that it doesn’t have its own meaning. Because the mind always has meaning and computation never does, the mind is the opposite of computation.

Read More ›
New York City skyline

Can We Understand the Brain the Way We “Understand” New York City?

The “connectome” (a complete “wiring diagram” of the brain) is giving neuroscientists pause for thought

If the brain is immensely complex, it may elude complete understanding in detail. Deep Learning may survey it but that won’t convey understanding to us. We may need to look at more comprehensive ways of knowing.

Read More ›
The concept of rational and irrational thinking of two people. Heads of two people with colourful shapes of abstract brain for concept of idea and teamwork. Two people with different thinking.

We Will Never “Solve” the Brain

A science historian offers a look at some of the difficulties we face in understanding the brain

In a forthcoming book, science historian Matthew Cobb suggests that we may need to be content with different explanations for different brain parts. And that the image of the brain as a computer is definitely on the way out.

Read More ›
Babys playing together.

Are Infants Born Kind? New Research Says Yes

The trouble is, the research is haunted by conflicting definitions of altruism

If human infants show apparent intellectual qualities like compassion earlier than we might have expected but chimpanzees don’t, we must accept that humans are fundamentally different from chimpanzees. Conflicting definitions of altruism cloud the picture.

Read More ›
Concept of brain recording for parkinson surgery

Why Pioneer Neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield Said the Mind Is More Than the Brain

He gave three lines of reasoning, based on brain surgery on over a thousand patients

Michael Egnor points out that Penfield offered three lines of evidence: His inability to stimulate intellectual thought during brain operations, the inability of seizures to cause intellectual thought, and his inability to stimulate the will. … So he concluded that the intellect and the will are not from the brain. Which is precisely what Aristotle said.

Read More ›
Atomic structure. Futuristic concept on the topic of nanotechnology in science. The nucleus of an atom surrounded by electrons on a technological background

Theoretical Physicist Slams Panpsychism

Electrons cannot be conscious, in Sabine Hossenfelder’s view, because they cannot change their behavior

Hossenfelder’s impatience is understandable but she underestimates the seriousness of the problem serious thinkers about consciousness confront. There is a reason that some scientists believe that the universe is conscious: It would be more logically coherent to say that you think the universe is conscious than to say that your own consciousness is an illusion. With the first idea, you may be wrong. With the second idea, you are not anything. 

Read More ›
Two Scientists in the Brain Research Laboratory work on a Project, Using Personal Computer with MRI Scans Show Brain Anomalies. Neuroscientists at Work.

Pioneer Neuroscientists Believed the Mind Is More Than the Brain

A number of them were Nobel Laureates and their views were informed by their work

In a podcast discussion with Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor talks about how many famous neuroscientist became dualists—that is, they concluded that there is something about human beings that goes beyond matter—based on observations they made during their work.

Read More ›