Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

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Does Workplace Automation Improve Service or Merely Cut Costs?

Chances are, the CEO won’t know there’s a problem until complaints come in. Elon Musk didn’t
Philosopher jay Richards argues that what really distinguishes humans is our capacity for developing creative freedom. If that capacity is automated out of a system, we can expect to hear about many avoidable failures. Read More ›
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Sorry, Wired: That “Crafty Robot” Doesn’t Write in Languages It’s Never Seen

The artificial intelligence industry is overwhelmed with title inflation and feat hype
Headline hype obscures the researchers’ remarkable accomplishments while luring the unsuspecting to believe AI is more than it is and does more than it does. Read More ›
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Yes, There ARE Ghosts in the Machine

And one of them is you
You power AI whenever you prove your humanity to the CAPTCHA challenges overrunning the web. AI systems are not some alien brain evolving in our mids. They are machines we build and train by embedding our humanity into their programming. Read More ›
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University Fires Philosophy Prof, Hires Chimpanzee to Teach, Research

A light-hearted look at what would happen if we really thought that unreason is better than reason

Dissociated Press – According to sources from the Funny Papers News Collective, officials at the Université Paris Diderot announced today that philosophy professor Justin Smith has been dismissed from his teaching and research duties at the university, following publication of his new book, Irrationality. In the widely acclaimed book, Smith argues forcefully that reason is highly overrated, and generally of less survival value than brute animal instinct. Citing 16th-century diplomat Girolamo Rorario in his treatise “That Brute Animals Make Better use of Reason than Men”, Smith argues: [H]uman deliberation – the period of hesitancy when we survey our various options and eventually select what appears to be the best of them – far from being an advantage over other beings, Read More ›

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Concrete bridge photographed from below

Swarm Printing: Are AI Robots Tomorrow’s Construction Workers?

Robotic swarms specially adapted to operate in austere environments could be useful responses to natural and manmade disasters

While many traditional construction jobs will be lost, others will be created. Someone will need to design, build, service, and repair the robots.

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Google’s “Civil War” Is a First For the Big Tech Industry

Not the sort of first to rejoice market analysts’ hearts

If a recent longform article at Fortune is any guide, tech philosopher George Gilder was onto something when he told Steve Forbes recently that the whole Google culture is “kind of self-defeating and wrong.”

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George Gilder seated before speech at book launch

George Gilder: Why Does Google Seem To Be Having a Corporate Nervous Breakdown?

Gilder tells Forbes that its whole culture is “kind of self-defeating and wrong.”

"This whole business of aggregating people by giving them free stuff—in order to collect data to provide guidance for advertisers—it’s just a circuitous means of a business plan that I don’t think will finally prevail."

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Maybe the robot will do you a favor and snatch your job

The historical pattern is that drudgery gets automated, not creativity

Fear of toxic but improbable futures sometimes distracts us from clearly understanding and preparing for the real changes that are happening now.

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What It Really Takes to Build a High-Tech Company, Sell It, and Get Rich

Inventor and entrepreneur Hal Philipp offers a rewarding but cautionary true story

The road to the success that Hal Philipp enjoys today was laced with landmines. When money starts rolling in, entrepreneurs must expect lawsuits. But perseverance and a strong character won the day. 

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A pen on top of several math equations

Walter Bradley Center Fellow Discovers Longstanding Flaw in an Aspect of Elementary Calculus

The flaw doesn't lead directly to wrong answers but it does create confusion.

The lead author, Jonathan Bartlett, noted that the likely source of the bad notation was a philosophical issue. Because no one wanted to give differentials that same ontological status as other numbers, everyone presumed that the notational problems were simply the result of this fact, and no one pursued it further.

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SXSW 2019: Grappling with AI’s immense culture shifts

Panelists Robert J. Marks and Jay Richards spot the human advantage in an AI-driven culture

From homeschooled teens to high-tech entrepreneurs to retired doctors to University of Texas students, Christ Church was full of Austinites trying to understand what the rapid growth of AI technologies means for their future.

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Random Thoughts on Recent AI Headlines

There is usually a story under those layers of hype but not always the one you thought

When Thomas Sowell was writing his syndicated column on economics, I always looked forward to his sporadically appearing “Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene.” Reminding readers that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I offer my own “Random Thoughts on Recent AI Headlines.”

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Universal Basic Income? Fear of AI Fuels Bad Economics

If new technology led to mass permanent unemployment, history would be an endless saga of expanding joblessness

Although the coming shift will be abrupt, new technologies enable us to focus, as economists would put it, on our comparative advantage over machines. 

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Mailboxes on a rural road

STEM Education 5: What Difference Do Family and Privilege Make to Success?

A strong family helps a STEM nerd succeed. However, a “strong family” is not necessarily a family that had an easy ride, as my own story shows.

The money my parents could make in the new urban environment was good, but it was a bad place to raise kids. In high school, I began to run with gangs and do many things I’m not proud of. Dad and Mom scraped together money for me to go to college instead.

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Cardboard boxes from Brouhaha brewery waiting to be shipped

Amazon pulls out of the New York City deal

Is this a message about the new economy in America?

Jay Richards thinks that crony capitalism is a long-term problem but that, in this case, New York legislators showed “staggering economic illiteracy and a disregard for their constituents”

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Japanese Businessmen Having a Business Agreement

STEM Education 4: Do STEM Nerds Need to Learn Latin?

Okay, not Latin. But some arts subjects do enhance a STEM career

Well-roundedness is appropriate in applied STEM curricula to the extent that it rounds out the skills necessary for success as a STEM professional.

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STEM EDUCATION 2. Not Everyone Is Lucky Enough to be a Nerd

How do you identify extroverted nerds? When you are talking to them, they look at YOUR shoes
If I am made to confess that college courses in Shakespearean sonnets will make me a better person, then English literature majors had better confess that calculus makes them better people. Read More ›
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Machinist working a loom

Remember the Luddites!

The Luddites became famous for breaking machinery during the Industrial Revolution. Were they entirely wrong?
People often think that the Luddites were merely anti-technology because they opposed automation during the Industrial Revolution (1760–1840). The story is more complex. As we face increasing automation today, we might want to see what we can learn from their history. Read More ›
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Mission Control Center (MCC), Houston, Texas, during the Gemini 5 flight.

STEM EDUCATION 1. Pursuing Nerd Quality Over Nerd Quantity

Reducing math and science to practice is what engineers do. Scientists didn’t put a man on the moon. Engineers did.
Overall, computer applications will impact our society and culture as much as electricity did. And we’re living smack in the middle of the transformation. Read More ›