Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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double moon above Crater Landscape on alien Planet.

Would ET Intelligences Understand the 1974 Arecibo Message?

Probably not, says astrobiologist Dirke Schulz-Makuch, who raises the question of whether we could ever really communicate with extraterrestrial intelligences

In early, easily-mocked sci fi, a little green man points his raygun at an unsuspecting passerby and barks “Take me to your leader.” Fast forward: If the little green man didn’t have the technology to figure out who the leader was before landing, he certainly wouldn’t have the technology to get here. In any real-world scenario, we must assume that extraterrestrial intelligences are doing common sense logical things that we would do: Check Earth’s inhabitants out first by monitoring our communications. Some analysts have pointed out that there are places they could even hide technology in our solar system (Lagrange points, for example) with much less chance of being noticed. But then the question is, what to say to them?…

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Time flies

A Man in Dire Need Contacts His Unborn Grandson — Sci-Fi Saturday

The grandson “gets the mail” and sends back something from the future, via a mysterious mailbox, that gives the felons a considerable surprise

“Mailbox” at DUST by Louis Yin (October 15, 2021, 17:00 min) An American Chinese immigrant makes contact with his grandson in the future via a mailbox. Together they have to deal with their mutual enemies. Review: Based on Yanan Wang’s short story, “The Post man,” the story begins in New York City in 1946, where Chinese immigrants are oppressed by a criminal landlord. The gritty, authentically period tale begins to revolve around an old mailbox that turns out not to be time bound. Not a spoiler: Bo (William Yuekun Wu) can mail things to the future. His grandson (whose life appears to have only somewhat improved by being two generations on… ) can, however, help by mailing back stuff from…

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Extrasolar planet with atmosphere and moon

Harvard Astronomer: Advanced Aliens Engineered the Big Bang

Avi Loeb writes in Scientific American that when we humans are sufficiently advanced, we will create other universes as well

At Scientific American, Avi Loeb, the longest-serving chair of astronomy at Harvard (2011–2020), tackles the question of what came before the Big Bang. He surveys the conventional explanations for this singularity in time and space (when all points are zero) and comes to a somewhat surprising conclusion: Creation by an alien intelligence is the best way to account for our universe: Now there are a variety of conjectures in the scientific literature for our cosmic origins, including the ideas that our universe emerged from a vacuum fluctuation, or that it is cyclic with repeated periods of contraction and expansion, or that it was selected by the anthropic principle out of the string theory landscape of the multiverse—where, as the MIT…

Abstract tech background 3D illustration. Quantum computer archi
Abstract tech background 3D illustration. Quantum computer architecture. Futuristic technologies in global communication network

Seth Lloyd Will Take Us Into the Quantum Realm at COSM 2021

Dr. Lloyd, an MIT physicist, will tackle "Quantum Computing: Does it Change Everything, or Anything?"

Quantum physics has captured the imagination of culture, despite the fact that it upends everyday physics. Take, for instance, Marvel’s Ant Man (2015), whose creators consulted with physicists in their seemingly-absurd application of quantum physics to a fictional superhero universe. Quantum science will be one of the many topics explored at COSM 2021 this November. To aid in that exploration, physicist Seth Lloyd will be joining to discuss, “Quantum Computing: Does it Change Everything, or Anything?” Dr. Lloyd earned his Ph.D. from Rockefeller University, and is currently a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. His research interests lie in quantum information and control theory. He has authored and co-authored over 200 scientific publications, and is the author of Programming the…

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The Altamira Caves. Spanish rock art. It is the highest representation of cave painting in Spain

There Is No Such Thing as a Fossil Mind

A chapter on evolutionary psychology in Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith (2021) looks at the curious discipline of evolutionary psychology

This month, the The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith: Exploring the Ultimate Questions About Life and the Cosmos (Harvest House 2021) appeared. The basic theme of the handbook, as described by editors design theorist William Dembski and Joseph Holden is “Science and Christianity are often presented as opposites, when in fact the order of the universe and the complexity of life powerfully testify to intelligent design.” I wrote one of the chapters, “What is evolutionary psychology?”. It concerns the effort to understand human psychology by appealing to a prehuman (“evolutionary”) past. As such, it explains a large variety of human behaviours as the unconscious enactment of a Darwinian survival scenario among not-quite humans that is wired into modules in…

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question mark on sticky note

10: Christian Egnor and Atheist Dillahunty Now Take Questions…

For example, “ What is Mr. Egnor’s best evidence of any god that would make me believe?”

In the “Does God exist?” debate between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), the debaters get questions from the audience. Readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were all unfalsifiable. When, in Section 4, it was Egnor’s turn to rebut Dillahunty, Dillahunty was not easily able to recall Aquinas’s First Way (the first logical argument for the existence of God). Then, turning to the origin…

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Sand dunes in Death Valley

What if the Rescue is the Worst Part? — Sci-Fi Saturday

Crashed spaceship crew members find themselves on a desert planet with some very strange features

“Beachworld” at DUST by Jackie Perez (September 20, 2021, 14:00 min) Beachworld is an adaptation of a Stephen King’s short story as part of his Dollar Baby program. Lieutenant Shapiro’s ship is destroyed in a crash on a deserted desert planet covered in sand dunes. As she begins to understand the severity of her situation, she sets out to discover other survivors and formulate a rescue plan. Her crewmate Rand is alive, but spellbound by his new surroundings. It’s up to her alone to figure out how to get back home. She finds their ship’s emergency beacon, and an unsavory salvage crew answers their distress call. Ultimately, their rescue comes too late as Shapiro has succumbed to the planet’s hypnotizing…

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collection of alien planets in front of the Milky Way galaxy, nearby exoplanets

Physicist: Copernican Principle Doesn’t Make Earth Insignificant

That, Marcelo Gleiser says, is a philosophical attitude, unrelated to the science

Theoretical physicist Marcelo Gleiser, author of The Island of Knowledge (2014) offers some thoughts on what the Copernican Principle means and doesn’t mean about Earth’s status as a planet — whether Earth is a special place or a pale blue dot. He has no objection to the Copernican Principle (“a cornerstone of astronomy”) as such. The problem, he points out, is what happened next: Copernicus famously proposed that Earth was not the center of the universe; the sun was. The Earth, he suggested, was just another planet orbiting the sun like Mars or Jupiter… The principle, as understood today, is usually stated as, “Earth is an ordinary planet, and we, human observers, are ordinary too.” There is nothing special about…

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Through the center of the Milky way

Just Announced: Strange Signals From the Galaxy’s Center

Astronomers: “The brightness of the object also varies dramatically, by a factor of 100, and the signal switches on and off apparently at random. We’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Strange radio waves emerge from direction of the galactic centre”? Yes, it sounds like the opening of a trailer for a sci-fi film. But it is actually a media release from last week from the University of Sydney in Australia: Astronomers have discovered unusual signals coming from the direction of the Milky Way’s centre. The radio waves fit no currently understood pattern of variable radio source and could suggest a new class of stellar object. “The strangest property of this new signal is that it is has a very high polarisation. This means its light oscillates in only one direction, but that direction rotates with time,” said Ziteng Wang, lead author of the new study and a PhD student in…

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workplace of  lawyer business in office. wooden gavel , contact papers ,justice and law ,attorney, court judge,burden of proof.

Theists vs. Atheists: Which Group Has the Burden of Proof?

Because Dillahunty refuses to debate me again, I’ll address his claim that atheists have no burden of proof in the debate over God’s existence in this post

A common refrain from those atheists who are willing to debate theists is that theists, not atheists, have the burden of proof in the debate over God’s existence. Internet atheist Matt Dillahunty made this claim in our recent debate. Regrettably, it looks doubtful that Dillahunty and I will debate again. He didn’t fare well—he had no real understanding of any of the ten classical proofs of God’s existence— and in the wake of his confused and rambling attempts at exculpation he refuses to debate me again. His reluctance is understandable—he was clearly shaken by the revelation that his rejection of the proofs of God’s existence isn’t based on any actual understanding on his part of the arguments. Like all other…

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Starfield in deep space many light years far from the Earth. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

If Extraterrestrials Didn’t Fine Tune Earth, Maybe There Is a God

In the face of a grab bag of ideas like creation by ETs or countless universes (some run by cats), why does the idea of a Creator seem far out?

Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been doing a series of podcasts with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer, and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz in connection with a recent co-authored paper on the fine-tuning of the universe for life in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. In the first portion of this episode, podcast 153, “Why is there fine-tuning everywhere?” they look at whether life was seeded in our universe by advanced life forms (directed panspermia), as advocated by some prominent scientists. In the second portion, they discuss the view — again, held by prominent science figures — that our universe is an advanced computer sim. In the third segment, they tackle the idea that there is nothing to…

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Sheep Cloning. Two identical sheep standing in a field. Photoshopped Dolly the Sheep.

What If Cloning Were As Easy As Shopping? – Sci-fi Saturday

A couple stumbles on a means of cloning life forms and they get, shall we say, far more than they bargained for…

“Burnt Grass” (2014) at DUST by Ray Wong (October 1, 2021, 9:57 min) A couple’s relationship takes an unexpected turn when a strange phenomenon in their backyard allows cloning to take place. Review: Dolly the Sheep was cloned in 1996 and that really put cloning on the map for most people. So, nearly twenty years later (2014), how did we understand it?: Not well, it would seem. In actual cloning, according to the Roslin Centre that cloned the sheep, “Dolly was cloned from a cell taken from the mammary gland of a six-year-old Finn Dorset sheep and an egg cell taken from a Scottish Blackface sheep. She was born to her Scottish Blackface surrogate mother on 5th July 1996. Dolly’s…

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Alien creature has a message for humans. Grey kind humanoid from an other planet portrait series.

Breakthrough Team Proposes Caution in Messaging Extraterrestrials

Carl Sagan had warned about making oblivious assumptions about exactly what’s out there

At Universe Today, science writer Matt Williams tosses another hypothesis into the ring as to why we don’t see ET: Maybe, universally, everyone is listening but no one is broadcasting. Or few are, anyway. Now why might that be? He outlines a distinction between two different approaches to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (ET): SETI and METI Most efforts to date have been SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) where we are looking for them. That encompasses projects like Cornell Astronomer Frank Drake’s pioneer Project Ozma (1960) and the current Allen Telescope Array. More projects now, Williams says, are METI (Messaging Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence). We could include in that group the three-word Soviet Morse Message (“peace,” “Lenin,” and “SSSR,” radioed into space…

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Legumes bean seed in sack, top view

If We All Depended On a Few Handfuls of Seeds… – Sci-fi Saturday

Actually, we do. An inventive Norwegian filmmaker has made a short sci-fi film out of a possible outcome

“Voyager” (2017) by Kjersti Helen Rasmussen (uploaded at DUST October 4, 2021, 7:39 min) A shooting star falls down over the Arctic island of Svalbard and The Global Seed Vault gets an unexpected visitor. Review: Kjersti Helen Rasmussen’s film (she’s the writer as well as the director) has received over 100,000 reviews at DUST since October 4. That’s no wonder because there really is a Global Seed Vault in the Norwegian arctic at 78 degrees N, offering “safe, free and long-term storage of seed duplicates from all genebanks and nations participating in the global community’s joint effort to ensure the world’s future food supply.” As a Mobster might say, it would be a shame if anything happened to it. The…

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Illustration of two different aliens talking inside a spaceship with a dark planet sun and moon in outer space in the background.

Where Could Aliens Be Hiding Technology in Our Solar System?

Possibilities include the Oort Cloud and Lagrange points, where NASA can park spacecraft to reduce fuel consumption

Debrief looked recently at five places for hiding “technosignatures.” Technosignatures are evidence of the activity of intelligent agents, as opposed to events or materials that the laws of nature alone can explain. They might include “radio signals, city lights, atmospheric changes like CO2, and free-floating spacecraft.” Or, reaching back into the past, they might be engravings on bone from 51,000 years ago or a child’s burial from 80,000 years ago. Technosignatures are events and entities that nature did not simply generate without some form of thought as a necessary ingredient. If we assume that extraterrestrials want to surveil without being noticed, here’s one of the five venues they might pick — a Lagrange point: Lagrange points are stable places in…

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Earth magnetic field

Physicist: Migrating Birds’ Mysterious Quantum Sense Is “Spooky”

Birds like the European robin pack a $10,000 lock-in amplifier into a 2 micron cell

Earlier this year, the night-migratory European robin (Erithacus rubecola) made the headlines. Evidence has emerged that it may be using quantum mechanical effects to sense Earth’s magnetic field in order to migrate. Few expected to find quantum mechanical manipulation in the eye of a bird. Zoologist Eric Warrant, who was not involved in the research, says, that magnetic direction sensing is “the last sense we know, effectually, nothing about.” But this mysterious intelligence appears essential to migration, and hence, to the survival of many birds. So how, exactly, do they do it? Humans perceive the world around them with five senses — vision, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Many other animals are also able to sense the Earth’s magnetic field.…

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quantum computer closeup

Quantum Physicist Julie Love to Speak at COSM 2021

She fell in love with physics in high school, and continues to pursue that love today at Microsoft

She may not be a household name, but Dr. Julie Love works with technology that could have massive implications on our economy, in our industry and agriculture, and on society at large: Quantum computing. At this year’s COSM conference in Bellevue, Washington, Love will be addressing quantum computing and the question, “Does it change everything, or anything?” First, what exactly is quantum computing? “Quantum computing applies the properties of quantum physics to the processing of information,” Love explains in a Youtube series produced by Microsoft exploring the impact of the technology. “This exponentially faster and more powerful computing will accelerate the development of new sustainable materials, improved healthcare, methods to address food production, and combat climate change.” You can watch…

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Demolition of hotel collapse following bomb blast explosion

7. Dillahunty Asks 2nd Oldest Question: If God Exists, Why Evil?

In the debate between Christian neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty, the question of raping a baby was bound to arise.

In the “Does God exist?” debate between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), we have at last got round to the Problem of Evil. Readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were all unfalsifiable. When, in Section 4, it was Egnor’s turn to rebut Dillahunty, Dillahunty was not easily able to recall Aquinas’s First Way (the first logical argument for the existence of God). Then,…

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Small kitten

In an Infinity of Universes, Countless Ones Are Run by Cats…

Daniel Díaz notes that most of the talk about the multiverse started to appear once it was realized that there was fine-tuning in nature

Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been doing a series of podcasts with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer, and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz in connection with a recent co-authored paper on the fine-tuning of the universe for life in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. In the first portion of this episode, podcast 153, “Why is there fine-tuning everywhere?” they look at whether life was seeded in our universe by advanced life forms (directed panspermia), as advocated by some prominent scientists. In the second portion, they discuss the view — again, held by prominent science figures — that our universe is an advanced computer sim. In the third segment, they tackle the idea that there is nothing to…

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Nuvole nel cielo azzurro

The Divine Hiddenness Argument Against God’s Existence = Nonsense

God in Himself is immeasurably greater than we are, and He transcends all human knowledge

In my recent debate with Matt Dillahunty about the existence of God, Dillahunty invoked his favorite argument against God’s existence — the Divine Hiddenness argument. We didn’t have a chance to go into that argument in detail in the debate, and Dillahunty is unwilling to have any more debates with me (even if he’s paid, apparently). So this is a good forum to look at that argument in more detail. What is the argument for atheism from God’s Hiddenness? This is a standard form of the argument from Divine Hiddenness against God’s existence: Necessarily, if God exists, then God perfectly loves such finite persons as there may be. Necessarily, if God perfectly loves such finite persons as there may be,…