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Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategoryTechnocracy

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Artificial Intelligence and Transhumanism - illustration

John Lennox: Transhumanism Is Not a New Idea

In his just-published book, 2084, Oxford mathematician John Lennox points out that, in the 20th century, both the Communists and the Nazis had attempted transhumanist projects. For example, In the former Soviet Union, attempts were made to use science to create a “New Man.” In 1924, Leon Trotsky wrote: “Man will make it his purpose to master his own feelings, to raise his instincts to the heights of consciousness, to make them transparent, to extend the wires of his will into hidden recesses, and thereby to raise himself to a new plane, to create a higher social biologic type, or, if you please, a superman.” What that program of eugenics involved is explained by historian Andrey Zubov as cited by Read More ›

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Breaking Through Concept

Michael Egnor: Denying Free Will Is Totalitarian

Specifically, “The denial of free will is the cornerstone of totalitarian systems.” That’s what he told podcaster Lucas Skrobot in the second of two podcast discussions: Dr. Michael Egnor | Free Will and Totalitarian Ideologies (Part 2 of 2) [E152] Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor has written a fair bit on free will for Mind Matters News. Here are some selections to consider: No free will means no justice: “Free will is the cornerstone of all human rights and the cornerstone of our Constitutional rights. The denial of free will is, literally, the denial of human freedom. Without free will, we are livestock, without the presumption of innocence, without actual innocence, and without rights. A justice system that has no respect for Read More ›

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big brother watching you

2084 vs 1984: The Difference AI Could Make to Big Brother

In a recent podcast, Oxford mathematician John Lennox answered some questions raised about his new book, 2084 by Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks, including questions as to how the loss of privacy could wind up really harming us: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-089-John-Lennox.mp3 From the transcript: Robert J. Marks: It’s been said that AI is the new electricity. It’s neither good nor bad. You have addressed some of the potential negative uses of artificial intelligence or the negative impacts of artificial intelligence, but expanding on that, what are some of the big threats that you see in the use of AI technology in the near future? John Lennox: Well, the threats are best explained by comparing them with the advantages. Let’s take Read More ›

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Phone-Screen-for-Hel-modified

China’s Health Code App: One More Way to Track Citizens

For the Chinese Communist Party, SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus) has provided an opportunity to expand its massive surveillance system. The current extensive network of facial recognition cameras has left some gaps. People could avoid recognition, for example, by wearing a face covering to curb the spread of a respiratory illness. Now, China is looking to fill those gaps by keeping the Alipay Health Code app, launched at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a mainstay for its citizens: Compared to omnipresent facial recognition software and other surveillance systems in China, the health code mechanism covers more people and collects a broader range of personal information. The state can also impose stricter control as people now have to use health codes Read More ›

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Abstract Chinese flag painted on digital sphere. Futuristic network cyberspace illustration background. View from space. Selective focus used.

China Aims at Global AI Dominance by 2030

China’s systematic use of AI for social surveillance and control should cause us to think carefully about what that means

A 2017 central government document laid out the country’s plan for global dominance in AI by 2030, asking all “people’s governments of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government, all State Council ministries, and all directly controlled institutions” to ”please carefully implement.“ (translation) To achieve that timeline, China has employed several operations against the United States including the Confucius Institutes (fronts for Chinese propaganda according to the FBI, 2020), the Thousand Talents Program (spying and intellectual-property theft, Bloomberg, 2019) and cyber theft. While many Confucius Institutes have been exposed by key members of the Senate and many are being terminated domestically as a result, Chinese-driven cyber theft is costing the U.S. economy more than $100 billion per Read More ›

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Smart technologies in your smartphone, collection and analysis of big data

The Birds Aren’t Real. But Maybe the Spying Is.

A defense of our fundamental right to privacy

Technology frees us from drudgery but also enable surveillance that enslaves us. Then, far from computers becoming more like humans, we may become more like computers.

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Great bundle of various colored cables with various connectors

No, Scientific American, Don’t Starve AI!

Don't unplug AI; just make sure everyone shares in both the creation and the benefits

While many are concerned about all the jobs that AI will eliminate, no one is talking about the fact that AI needs humans. Information is the fuel that powers AI, and only humans can create this information. So, the real revolution that AI will bring is not data exploitation, but the empowering of people all around the world to power our economy through creation of information. What’s bad news for authoritarian groups like the Chinese Communist party is good news for everyone else. 

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Real Php code developing screen. Programing workflow abstract algorithm concept. Lines of Php code visible under magnifying lens.

Will Ideas or Algorithms Rule Science Tomorrow?

David Krakauer of the Santa Fe Institute offers an unsettling vision of future science as produced by machines that no one really understands

The basic problem is that accepting on faith what we can’t ever hope to understand is not a traditional stance of science. Thus it’s a good question whether science could survive such a transition and still be recognizable to scientists. But does turning things over to incomprehensible algorithms, as Krakauer proposes, really work anyway? Current results from a variety of areas give pause for thought.

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CCTV camera or surveillance operating in glass building

At Scientific American: Starve artificial intelligence!

Silicon Valley authors seek to limit AI's power. Jonathan Bartlett doesn't think it really has the power they are worried about

Jonathan Bartlett agrees with Valley pioneers Davidow and Malone, authors of The Autonomous Revolution (2020) that there are real problems with the misuse of AI. But, he says, that’s because we treat it as powerful. It is a servant but we make it a master.   

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The Dragon’s Deception: Conspiracy Theories and False Numbers

China’s global attempt to rewrite the history of coronavirus (COVID-19) is running up against incriminating evidence

The Chinese Communist Party has touted the superiority of an authoritarian government over a democratic one in handling the virus outbreak. But American intelligence sources say that it was the punishment that local officials might receive from the authoritarian system that led to the initial coverup of the outbreak.

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Coronavirus pandemic - Cleaning and Disinfection. Professional teams for disinfection efforts. Infection prevention and control of epidemic. Protective suit and mask

China: Rewriting the History of COVID-19

Making the government the improbable hero of the tale

Chinese scientists worked together swiftly and seamlessly to sequence the virus, (completed February 25), even as the government was downplaying the extent of the problem and silencing doctors who attempted to warn colleagues and the public. The Wuhan public erupted in anger when the government demanded a show of gratitude for its efforts rather than theirs.

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Market street in Kashgar during Chinese National Holiday (Xinjiang, China)

China: Sophisticated Surveillance Decides Who Gets Sent to Uyghur Camps

The leak of documents from police in Karakax County in Xinjiang reveal the details of everyday life that can send a Uyghur to the camps

The tracking app used by the police aggregates all of the data of people living in Xinjiang. Based on the parameters, or “micro-clues” that police put in the app, prompts the user to collect additional details or determines whether that person should be detained. This could include “not socializing with neighbors, often avoiding using the front door,” or using more electricity than others.

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Magnet

Centralization Is Not Inevitable

Even technology is not inevitable; it comes and goes

The coronavirus has demonstrated that centralization has its limits. It's not inevitable, as a recent Analysis post suggests. I predict that when the dust settles on this coronavirus outbreak, the order-of-magnitude greater death rate in China, compared to the 2003 SARS outbreak, will be blamed on central planning.

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Is Transhumanism Uncomfortably Tempting?

An ethicist asks us to stop and reflect

Jacob Schatzer identifies three issues in the essay, “The Allure of Transhumanism,” that might prompt some queasy recognitions in all of us, at times.

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The Danger AI Poses for Civilization

Why must Google be my helicopter mom?

If I have a coffee cup with “AI inside,” it’s probably connected to the Internet, which is just another way of saying that my coffee cup is transmitting data to some company’s servers about my coffee drinking habits. Whatever benefit the app provides will come at a cost to my autonomy, privacy, and competence as a person.

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Photo by Chris Yang

Technology Centralizes by Its Very Nature

Here are some other truths about technology, some uncomfortable ones

To see what I mean about centralization, consider a non-digital tool, say, a shovel. The shovel doesn’t keep track of your shoveling, read your biometrics, and store a file on you-as-shoveler somewhere. It’s a thing, an artifact. So you see, the new digital technology is itself the heart of the surveillance problem. No Matrix could be built with artifacts.

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Middle-aged man calling his attorney for legal assistance

AI in the Courtroom: Will a Robot Sentence You?

Some experts think AI might be fairer than human judgment. Others are not so sure

One Superior Court judge has warned that many cases don’t come down to information alone, which is all AI can do. Law professor David DeWolf also expresses concern about increasing dependence upon law—a form of coercion—to regulate human behavior, a choice that is irrelevant to the growth of AI in the courtroom.

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EU Mulls Five-Year Ban on Facial Recognition

Too soon, too fast, and not enough discussion of the objectives, say critics

Opposition is growing in the Western world to routine government use of facial recognition (FR) technologies. But it takes different forms in different places.

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China: DNA Phenotyping Profiles Racial Minorities

In the United States, targeting minorities means political pushback; in China, no such discussion is allowed

While there is some merit to the idea that the population of a particular geographic region will have similar DNA patterns, this science comes with a host of assumptions that, when taken too far, crosses the line into pseudoscience.

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How Tech Savvy Helps Hong Kong Hold Off China

Several other factors help, including spirituality and a sense of unique identity as Hongkongers

The stakes are high. Hongkongers have been energized by the dramatic recent win for democracy at the polls. But so have the police.

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