Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis


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Is Psychology Heading for Another Big Replication Crisis?

The use of Amazon’s MTurk in survey research risks a second scandal in which findings are low quality and can’t be replicated, critics warn
In the first big replication crisis, the effort to root out a 2011 paper supporting ESP turned up the fact that only 36% of approved papers could be replicated. Read More ›
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Is the New Natural-Sounding Chatbot GPT4.o Breaking a Barrier?

It depends on what barrier you mean, says philosopher of technology Shannon Vallor. It could harm vulnerable people by convincing them that it is a person
It’s interesting that science fiction gets so much right — but then, about our relationship with AI, it gets the key thing so wrong. Read More ›
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Robocop 2014: A Good Movie Hampered by Bad Timing

The 2014 remake of RoboCop is considered a failure by most. I disagree. It has its problems but it is pretty solid in many respects
The film implies the existence of the human soul, as that seems to be pretty much all that Alex Murphy has left as he begins a new life as a robocop. Read More ›
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Is AI the Triumph of Left-Brained Thinking? What Follows?

Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist argues that it is and asks us to consider what its cultural lean toward the “left brain” is doing to us
He notes, “ AI … has no sense of the bigger picture, of other values, or of the way in which context—or even scale and extent—changes everything.” Read More ›
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So Who Are Today’s Disinformation Police?

Social scientists are striving to develop ways to blunt the force of information that governments would rather the public did not know or heed
The disinformation experts claim to be defending democracy — and yet their principal weapon is indoctrination. Read More ›
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Philosopher: Non-Materialism Is Fashionable Orthodoxy Now

Non-reductionism, which means that the mind is not simply reducible to the brain, is now well accepted, she argues
Giuseppina D’oro’s essay introduces two 20th-century idealist philosophers — Oakeshott and Collingwood — and their critique of psychology as a science. Read More ›
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Scientists Attempt an Honest Look at Why We Trust Science Less

Contemplating the depressing results of a recent Pew survey, a molecular biologist and a statistician take aim at growing corruption in science
The article, unfortunately, doesn’t address the way the panic around COVID leaned heavily on claims about “the science” — which likely discredited science. Read More ›
Ancient city of Babylon with the tower of Babel, bible and religion. AI generated, human enhanced

Dembski: Does the Squawk Around AI Sound Like the Tower of Babel?

Well then, maybe that’s just what it is, he argues, in a new series of short essays
Dembski sees the breathless and implausible claims for computers that think like people as the modern equivalent of ancient idols. Here are some highlights. Read More ›
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New Studies Point to Ways We Might Reduce the Effects of Dementia

What’s becoming clear is that, while dementia itself may not be preventable, its severity may potentially be mitigated by timely health care interventions. Read More ›
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Can There Really Be an Ultimate Happiness Machine?

Technology can do so much. Can it really provide an answer to the eternal human quest for happiness?
What if we had a machine that could access and manipulate the internals of the human mind? It would fall victim to the halting problem. Read More ›
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Psychology Researchers: AI Showed Imitation, Not Innovation

Testing children and adults against chatbots, the researchers found that the chatbots could match things up but struggled to solve problems on their own
As computer engineering prof Robert J. Marks puts it, AI is no more creative than a pencil. You can use it like a pencil — but the creativity comes from you. Read More ›
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Do Scientists Need to Learn to Lie More Believably?

As public trust in science diminishes, one serious proposal that scientists should manipulate our beliefs for our own good
Why should we believe what materialists say anyway? Generally, the sciences whose ultimate message is meaningless void-ism are running aground. Read More ›
Independent Thinking

The Free Will Debate Really Heated Up This Year

Many commentators are weighing in; surprisingly, perhaps, well-known materialists are disputing the claim that there is no free will
Given that both Pinker and Horgan are Darwinian materialists, their coldness toward the idea that there is no free will is worth keeping an eye on. Read More ›
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Exopsychology: The Psychology of No One We Ever Knew

The academic attempt to establish a psychology of alien intelligences — for whose existence we have no evidence — tells us something about ourselves
Many people have a hard time accepting the fact that we may never know if we are the only intelligence in the cosmos. Unusual psychologies may result. Read More ›
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The Left and Right Brain Both Want Pop Science Media to Chill

Neuroscience is not an especially rewarding field for the pursuit of dogma
The risk with neuroscience that tries to encompass Mozart is not that we will know nothing but that we will know just enough to get it all wrong. Read More ›
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Does Deep Social Change Underlie the War on Math?

Why is the universal language of science sinking under the weight of claims about trauma and privilege?
Ours is an age of private truth but math and science both took hold in ages of public truth. Neither of them can survive private truth for long. Read More ›
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When You Sync With Someone, Your Brains Wave Together

Neuroscientists have found that co-operation results in brain wave synchrony

At Scientific American, Lydia Denworth brought up an interesting topic earlier this month: The way that brain waves synchronize between two people who are communicating successfully: Neurons in corresponding locations of the different brains fire at the same time, creating matching patterns, like dancers moving together. Auditory and visual areas respond to shape, sound and movement in similar ways, whereas higher-order brain areas seem to behave similarly during more challenging tasks such as making meaning out of something seen or heard. The experience of “being on the same wavelength” as another person is real, and it is visible in the activity of the brain.” – Lydia Denworth, “Brain Waves Synchronize when People Interact,” Scientific American, July 1, 2023 For example, Read More ›

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That “Mirror Image” Myth About Identical Twins… What Happened?

Researcher of identical twins hoped to prove that Genes Rule! But there were ethics slippages along the way

For some decades, we heard claims from studies of identical twins (formed when one fertilized egg splits) that everything from exam results to homosexuality might hinge on genetics. Therefore, any similarity in later choices or behavior might be due to genetic factors (read “predetermined” or “inevitable” here). How has that assumption held up, especially in the age of genome mapping? Identical twins comprise roughly 1 in every 250 births. Studies of twins who were separated at birth, have been especially prized because the twins were assumed to grow up in different environments. Thus any significant similarities pointed to genetic influences. Several problems emerged though. For one thing, what about the assumption that separation at birth means that twins experience different Read More ›

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The “Conscious Machine” Is Just Real Enough to Scare People

The ancient Greek hunk Narcissus could tell us about the risks — if he hadn’t been turned into a daffodil…

Theologian and philosopher David Bentley Hart turns to an ancient folk tale to explain the danger of coming to believe that artificial intelligence is real human intelligence. Narcissus, as he tells us, was a young Greek hunter who fell in love with his own reflection in still water. He was entranced by the image but frustrated by the fact that it never did anything he didn’t do himself. He pined away and was eventually transformed into a flower — still called narcissus today. His name also found its way into psychology as a term for extreme self-absorption, narcissism. And that’s where Dr. Hart fears that an attraction to AI products as “machine selves” is taking us. While we’ve always been Read More ›

Hands of a man tearing a piece of paper with inscription free will

Free Will: What Are the Real Reasons to Believe in It?

Some say that free will might be a useful delusion but neuroscience provides sound reasons to believe that it is real.

University of Missouri psychology professor Kennon Sheldon’s message is neatly summed up in an opening statement: “Regardless of whether humans do or don’t have free will, psychological research shows it’s beneficial to act as if you do”. The author of Freely Determined: What the New Psychology of the Self Teaches Us About How to Live (Basic Books, 2022) responds to philosophers who say that we do not have free will: All my life, I’ve struggled with the question of whether humans have ‘free will’. It catalysed my decision to become a psychologist and continues to inspire my research to this day, especially as it relates to the kinds of goals people set for themselves, and the effects of goal-striving on Read More ›