Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategoryTechnocracy

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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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Asian temple dragon

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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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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Hong Kong: The Dread That Lies Ahead

They fear the fate of the Uyghurs, under "complete video surveillance"

They dread 2047 when Hong Kong comes completely under the jurisdiction of the Communist Party and is subject to the CCP’s rule of law rather than Hong Kong’s own laws under the current “one country, two systems” regime.

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The Greatest Threat We Face From AI—and What We Can Do

Here’s a list of things that have really happened with artificial intelligence (AI), in order of increasing severity.

When we get to the end of the list, we will see that it is like beads connected by a string—revealing the most dangerous threat.

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Big brother electronic eye concept, technologies for the global surveillance, security of computer systems and networks

Can a Big Data Program Be Society’s Crystal Ball?

Can a program with enough data on all of us predict our future?

Even fans admit that, if the program works, bad actors can use it just as easily as New Scientist’s virtuecrats.

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May Name is, Free Hong Kong.

Tiananmen Square 30 Years On: Words Still Have Power

Back then, students fought oppression via the fax. They depended on free media in Hong Kong to tell the world

The Chinese government has described the Hong Kong protests as violent riots by extremists. And, as with mainland China’s reports on Tiananmen Square, the abuses by police in Hong Kong have been scrubbed from the Chinese internet, while violence by protesters has been highlighted.

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But Could Techno-Immortality Ever Be the Real Thing?

Oxford mathematician John Lennox looks at Ray Kurzweil’s techno-immortality from a Christian perspective

In these excerpts from the podcast, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks talks with John Lennox about an AI immortality where we are told, for example, that we won’t need tongues because we can tap right into our taste buds.

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