Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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Merry Christmas and happy New Year greeting card with copy-space.Many snowmen standing in winter Christmas landscape.Winter background

Reuniting Humanity, One Hello at a Time

The Smartphone has done much more than just reinvent the phone. It reinvented how we interact

This story originally appeared at Newsmax. (December 13, 2021) Lately, I’ve been noticing something in recent years that maybe you’ve noticed as well. We don’t hello to each other in the streets as we once did. Perhaps it’s a small thing; easily dismissed in an age of distraction and (often) manufactured problems. It is nonetheless disturbingly telling. For the better part of a decade, I’ve been taking a couple of walks during my workday. I work in downtown Redmond, in Washington State, which is home to Microsoft and a host of other tech companies. During my 20-minute walks, I see quite a few folks who exercise, walk dogs, bike, wait for the bus, walk for pleasure, or are just  trying to…

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Time travel machine. Surreal steampunk technology

Are We Tethered To Our Time Despite Time Travel?— Sci-fi Saturday

A very short film about a girl on a mission to save her mother raises a profound philosophical question

“Tethers” (2021) at DUST by Matthew Steele Finley (uploaded at DUST November 24, 2021, 5:22 min) A woman travels in time to save another woman’s life but the risk could be far reaching for her own reality. Review: “Don’t kill your mother or anything,” the time travel technician (Larry Herring) warns Anna (Abigail Williams), as she prepares to travel back to prevent a tragedy set maybe thirty years ago in an upper middle class home. Not too many spoilers but Anna must attempt to persuade her future mother Rachel (Alicia Kelley) not to marry her father — a man whom she knows (the way the future knows the past) is not good for her mother. Sshe shows her mom the…

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Couple in bed on mobile phones ignoring each other in relationship problems and technology addiction

5 Ways to Keep the Digital Marketplace Out of Your Home

Today, people who share living quarters interact much less, due to the constant presence of social media and other digital alternatives

After a busy day in the public sphere, it’s a beautiful thing to come home. Our house is a sanctuary, a safe place to relax and regroup. And it’s where we cultivate some of our most intimate relationships. Up until the early decades of the 20th century, the family home was viewed as a private domain that should not be intruded upon by the marketplace. But the development of new technologies like the telephone, radio, and television blurred the line between our public and private spheres. Today, we give a host of companies and organizations intimate access to our family through our screens, subscriptions, digital assistants, and smart appliances. This erosion of our private time and our place of refuge…

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Man and woman playing game using virtual reality headset and gamepads in the dark room of the playing club

In a Futurist Game, Inmost Thoughts Are Real — Sci-fi Saturday

When a family plays the game, long-simmering hostilities surface as acts

“My House” (2020) at DUST by Alexander Edep (Oct 25, 2021, 9:53 min) A family game night turns ugly when a protective mother, desperate to keep her turn in the game a secret, is forced to commit a heinous act that holds a troubling, family-shattering secret. Review: Don’t watch this one to relax. It features a futurist game played by members of a family (a couple with a teenage boy and girl). In it, just about any family circumstance can be simulated — and is. The telling touch is that the event that is simulated is just what one could see happening, apart from law, religion, civilization, and, inevitably — what the neighbors would think? The game feels like unconscious…

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sci-fi scene of the creature machine invading city, digital art style, illustration painting

Worst Case: AI Robots Invade to “Help” Us — Sci-fi Saturday

A well-meaning AI attempts to “rescue” an impressionable child from the coming wipeout of humanity

“Cera” (2021 ) at DUST by John Robinson Irwin (October 20, 2021, 7:33 min) An 11-year old girl’s loyalty to her parents is tested after an attack by her caregiver hints to a greater violent upheaval beyond their rural surroundings. Review: The story opens with Hailey (Cali DiCapo)and her father John (Jason Isaacs) finding her mother Maria (Maria-Elena Laas) stabbed, though not dead. Minimal dialogue does a good job at filling us in on an, at first, nameless horror without breaking the suspense. Thus, we sense that “Cera” is an intelligent caregiver but not a human being and that the child’s devotion to her could be fatal or… It gets creepier from there. Minimal spoilers but it’s not clear, in…

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shocked woman holding laptop being picked blamed by many people in the Internet

Silicon Valley: From Laid Back Hippies to Top Cops…What Happened?

A political science prof traces the steps by which the naive assumptions of the early Valley morphed into shadow banning, outright banning, and so forth

Political scientist Jon Askonas offers a grim but somehow strengthening look at how Silicon Valley morphed from Apple’s revolt against 1984 to an increasingly comfortable relationship with totalitarian China. We must, he says, go back to the beginning. First, this is how Apple saw itself in 1984: Most of Silicon Valley saw itself that way — liberating people from authoritarianism. So what happened? In an incisive essay at The New Atlantis, Askonas offers some thoughts on what’s changed: ➤ First, he says, the Valley was very much influenced by 1970s California hippie beliefs about human nature that did not long survive realities like this: Faced with deadly riots in unstable societies caused by Facebook posts, Facebook tweaked its algorithms in…

Group of people holding hands praying worship believe

Compassion and Religion: Darwin’s Unscratchable Itches

If one’s research is in a hole as deep as evolutionary psychology is when accounting for compassion, why not stop digging?

Last Sunday, I pointed to a chapter I wrote in The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith: Exploring the Ultimate Questions About Life and the Cosmos (2021) on evolutionary psychology, best understood as the psychology we have derived from our not-quite-human ancestors. “Not-quite-human ancestors”? Well, if you believe in conventional evolution theory at all, you must suppose that we have not-quite-human ancestors. Thus, to understand the origin of traits like giving to the Heart & Stroke Fund or subscribing to popular science magazines, we must get back to a point before any such institutions could have existed but there was some sort of dim potential. But we can’t really do that because, as noted last Sunday, there is no such…

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Cute white English Bulldog puppy in a graduation cap

Tested!: Are the Least Expert People the Most Confident? No.

The claimed Dunning–Kruger effect in psychology is a very shakeable truth frequently exploited by online social bullies

Have you ever been in an online discussion where a vocal proponent confidently claimed that his opponent was the victim of the dreaded “Dunning–Kruger” effect? At Vox, Brian Resnick explains, “That’s where people of low ability — let’s say, those who fail to answer logic puzzles correctly — tend to unduly overestimate their abilities”: An obvious example people have been using lately to describe the Dunning-Kruger effect is President Donald Trump, whose confidence and bluster never wavers, despite his weak interest in and understanding of policy matters. But you don’t need to look to Trump to find an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect. You don’t even need to look at cable news. Brian Resnick, “An expert on human blind spots…

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Cute handmade reborn baby doll

Is GPT-3 the “Reborn Doll” of Artificial Intelligence?

Unlike the reality doll collectors, GPT-3 engineers truly believe that scaling up the model size will suddenly cause GPT-3 to think and talk like a real human

There is a worldwide community that collects “reborn dolls.” These dolls look almost like real babies. Look again, closely, at the featured photo above… They help some collectors cope with the loss of a child. For others, it fulfills their sense of self image. And yet others just see them as a quirky hobby. Regardless of how much the baby dolls mimic the appearance of real dolls, the dolls will forever remain copies because the external appearances are not generated by biological processes. For the collectors, this is a feature, not a bug. They enjoy the appearance of a baby without the real life difficulties of raising a real person. As one collector comments, her doll “doesn’t turn into a…