Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategorySocial Factors

Personal communication

Brain hacks

Do we understand the brain better if we see it as a computer?
Seeing the brain as a computer doesn’t tell us as much as we might think. When human beings build computers, we design them in a way that we can understand and use. So we think our brains must be like that too. Sure enough, in the vast complexity of our brains, we can surely find some elements that remind us of a computer. Others won’t.   Read More ›
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Would Google be happier if America were run more like China?

This might be a good time to ask
A leaked internal discussion document, the “Cultural Context Report” (March 2018), admits a “shift toward censorship.” It characterizes free speech as a “utopian narrative,” pointing out that “As the tech companies have grown more dominant on the global stage, their intrinsically American values have come into conflict with some of the values and norms of other countries.” Read More ›
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Hacks damage Facebook, kill Google+

The internet changes everything. For example, it makes the Big Guys more vulnerable, not less vulnerable, than bit players
Facebook gets blamed for everything from what Russia does to what American voters do. But the people who seem to think Mark Zuckerberg and company have superpowers for changing the world are mistaken. Facebook was not able to fend off a damaging hack. Read More ›
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Did AI teach itself to “not like” women?

No, the program did not teach itself anything. But the situation taught the company something important about what we can safely automate.

Back in 2014, it was a “holy grail” machine learning program, developed in Scotland, that would sift through online resumes, using a one-to-five star rating system and cull the top five of 100, saving time and money. Within a year, a problem surfaced: It was “not rating candidates for software developer jobs and other technical posts in a gender-neutral way.”

Read More ›
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The Spiritual Side of a Digital Society

Spiritual issues surface when software is everywhere
The more that software encompasses the whole of life, the more it needs to take into account the whole of the person using it. Read More ›
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I, Robot, am gathering dust in the sales room …

Why do robotics experts think that customers will warm to robots because they look like people?
The underlying assumption is surely incorrect. Robots like the Roomba succeed in part because they don’t look or act like people, let alone threaten people. They just do jobs people would prefer not to do or maybe can’t. Read More ›
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Google boss quits, writes satirical novel

The novel is said to be so far-fetched that it captures the environment
Recently, we’ve looked at a number of complaints about the way Silicon Valley is acquiring too much power over people’s lives, at home and abroad, and reaching deep into the compulsory school system as well. A former employee decided to respond creatively. Read More ›
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Remember those awful Seventies TV ads?

The new “attention economy” killed that kind of advertising. But what now?
One way of describing the change is that we now live in an attention economy rather than a captive time economy, so far as advertising is concerned. Read More ›
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People-friendly robots company shuts down

The “cobots,” robots that can work with people, got the pink slip—for now
Robotics is a business like any other. The individual good idea requires a business plan that can survive savage years in the wilderness before the buyout. That said, we certainly haven’t heard the last of the cobot, which may be one of the ideas that make robotics practical for everyday business. Read More ›
Portraits of people thinking

Who built AI? You did, mostly

Along with millions of others, you are providing free training data
For AI to work you need data. The most innovative players in the AI space have learned how to get users to willingly and gladly provide them with data for free. Read More ›
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Knowledge is power, sort of…

If that’s ALL knowledge is, the resulting science is bound to be limited, says Michael Egnor
If you are trying to predict the course of a cannonball, Newtonian mechanics are adequate. If you are trying to understand the mind of the guy who fired the cannon, you need to look much deeper. Read More ›
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Are sex robots a cure for loneliness?

Maybe, in a culture where people see themselves as machines
Nancy Pearcey, who is the author of Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality, reminds us that the most popular metaphor for the universe today is a vast machine. Read More ›
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George Gilder talks tech at World News Daily

In a three-part interview the tech philosopher explains why he thinks Google is doomed
“The Google dream is a supermind in the sky that knows everything,” Gilder told WND. “My dream is to distribute information as human minds are distributed.” Read More ›
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Will AI triumph?

Will that phone end up smarter than your kid?
If so, it might not happen in quite the way we are told to fear. U.S. kids spend more than two hours a day looking at screens "perform worse on memory, language and thinking tests than kids who spend less time in front of a device. Read More ›
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Inner peace: Is there software for that?

Tech billionaire funds neuroscience in a search for the secret of contentment
His approach to neuroscience is very different from that of the Dalai Lama, who facilitates neuroscience research to better understand contemplation as a path to inner peace. Chen’s focus is more on developing virtual reality. Read More ›
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The Hills Go High Tech

An American community finding its way in the new digital economy
At present, says Hochschild, Ankur Gopal and Interapt are sourcing as many new hillbillies as they can find: “For now, there is so much demand for I.T. workers — 10,000 estimated openings by 2020 in the Louisville metro area alone — that Mr. Gopal is reaching out to new groups. Read More ›
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Digital dictatorship?

China’s “social credit” system coming under scrutiny
It is not clear that most Chinese people understand the implications yet but many in the industry do. As of September 16, over 1400 Google employees had signed a letter of protest against Google’s involvement in Chinese censorship.   Read More ›
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Does digitization threaten science?

It enables new abuses, according to a Cambridge nanoscientist
The problem is not digitization as such, of course, but the mindset that it inadvertently encourages. Sometimes, for example, “citation rings” agree to cite each other’s papers so as to artificially inflate their rankings. Sometimes it graduates to “citation stacking” Read More ›