Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis


Bone Cell Structure: Unveiling the Building Blocks of Bones - Generative AI

Can Cells Learn? Can Molecules Communicate? What We Are Learning…

We are learning that the world of life is full of intelligence that we just did not know about

As noted last Wednesday, the science journal Nature reported on an uproar in neuroscience while sidestepping the uproar’s underlying basis: the leading theory of human consciousness today, Integrated Information Theory (IIT), is panpsychist, not eliminationist. That is, instead of trying to show that even human consciousness is merely an evolved illusion, IIT is compatible with the idea that some form of consciousness might pervade all life forms. The real difficulty with assessing any claim about human consciousness is that we can’t even define clearly what it is. However, suppose we have a more modest goal. We just want to understand why eliminative materialism seems to be failing and panpsychism, whether it is a good thing or a bad thing, is Read More ›

A green sprout sprouts from the microprocessor. A symbol of a new startup or business in the IT field of green technologies or biotechnologies. A living beginning in computers and artificial ai

“Emergence”: The College Level Version of “We Don’t Know How”

The word often permits the improbable to be considered probable for the purposes of sounding like science without providing any

For some purposes, emergence is just another word in the dictionary. For example, “caterpillar emergence” (emphasis added) means just that: Caterpillars exiting their eggs. But there is a sneakier way the word is sometimes used in science contexts: It’s a way of pretending we know something we don’t or that something can happen in a certain way — but we have no evidence for that. Consider these examples: “Abiotic emergence of ordered information stored in the form of RNA is an important unresolved problem concerning the origin of life.” – Totani, T. Emergence of life in an inflationary universe. Sci Rep 10, 1671 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-58060-0 When used with respect to origin of life, emergence is intended to convey the idea Read More ›

Ritual circle in the oldest temple of world - Gobeklitepe. October 2019.

Philosophers: Religion, Not Nature, Made Us Human

Victor Kumar and Richmond Campbell argue that many very ancient human types had human minds; religion is the missing ingredient

The philosophers who make this claim are not evangelists. Victor Kumar is director of the Mind and Morality Lab at Boston University and Richmond Campbell is the George Munro professor of philosophy emeritus at Dalhousie University. In an essay at IAI News, adapted from their book, A Better Ape: The Evolution of the Moral Mind and How it Made Us Human (Oxford University Press 2022), they argue that “it was the cultural institution of religion, and its ability to create large tribes, that made us into modern humans.” Sometimes there is a story in titles. The official title of this piece is “Nature didn’t make us human, culture did.” The subtitle is “How religion made us a successful species.” But Read More ›

Quantum particle, quantum mechanics

Why Philosopher Quentin Smith Saw Belief in God as Unscientific

Reader Laszlo Bencze looks at his list of reasons for thinking so and offers some thoughtful comments

In the first part of the discussion between Robert Lawrence Kuhn and Western Michigan University philosopher Quentin Persifor Smith (1952–2020) at Closer to Truth, “What Does a Fine-Tuned Universe Mean?” (Aug 31, 2022), Dr. Smith asserted that — while physicists may write about the fine-tuning of our universe in books aimed at the public — they do not discuss it in peer reviewed journals. Jonathan Bartlett supplied a number of references to such discussions in journals. In this second part of the discussion, Kuhn gave the floor to Dr. Smith to explain why he thought that belief in God is unscientific. A partial transcript follows, with some notes and comments interspersed: Quentin Persifor Smith: (7:20) But I think the real Read More ›