Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Tag___longform

china-flag-and-praying-patriot-man-with-crossed-hands-holding-cross-hoping-and-wishing-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
China flag and praying patriot man with crossed hands. Holding cross, hoping and wishing.

How China’s Technocracy Uses the Pandemic to Suppress Religion

The pandemic provided a pretext to install surveillance equipment in churches and surveil believers online

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the ways that technology can lead either to greater accessibility or greater oppression. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is now using the same technologies that have given many people around the world access to religious materials and church services during the pandemic to forcibly stop religious gatherings and restrict the distribution of religious materials within China. Although the CCP is officially atheist, over 60% of the population adheres to a recognized religion; 30.8% practice Chinese folk religions, 16.6% Buddhism, 7.4% Christianity, 4.2% ethnic religion, and 1.8% Islam. Authentic numbers may be higher, given the risk of punishment for practicing certain religions in China. The Chinese government has persecuted, tortured, and imprisoned Falun Gong members…

kung fu bamboo stick.jpg
kung fu bamboo stick.jpg

Mulan: Disney Talks Freedom at Home, Toes the Line in China

Films we see get altered in subtle and not-so-subtle ways to conform to the requirements of CCP propaganda

China’s government allows only about thirty-four Hollywood movies to be shown in Chinese theaters. As a result, entertainment companies like Disney go out of their way to make sure a film appeals to both North American crowds and Chinese Communist Party’s censors. Of course, what the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) allows and doesn’t allow in films is vague and subject to change, which keeps foreign film-makers guessing. Mulan, Disney’s latest attempt to please both the North American and the Chinese market, has failed to do either, for a number of reasons. Financially, Disney is already hurting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Theaters in the U.S. either remain closed or permit only limited-capacity seating. In response, Disney released Mulan on its streaming…

unique-scribe-library-full-of-old-and-valuable-manuscripts-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Unique scribe library full of old and valuable manuscripts

Surprising Ways AI Can Help Recover Lost Languages

Researchers into lost languages hail the new technologies as a golden age for discovery

When an apparently indecipherable manuscript from a lost language turns up, AI can help. But first, how is a language born and how does it die (or get lost)? We really don’t know how human language was born. Theories abound but all we know for sure is that it is unique. In a 2017 paper at BMC Biology, evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel states flatly, “Human language is unique among all forms of animal communication.” In his open-access paper, he cuts short the widely popularized claims for chimpanzee language: Most ape sign language, for example, is concerned with requests for food. The trained chimpanzee Nim Chimpsky’s longest recorded ‘utterance’, when translated from sign language, was ‘give orange me give eat orange…

containers-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
containers

Part 4: Docker—An Introduction to Container Orchestration

This tutorial will focus on Docker’s swarm because it comes installed with Docker and uses the same standard Docker files

In this installment we are going to look at “container orchestration” for Docker. In the previous installment, we just looked at how to run an individual container. However, most applications are a combination of services which are orchestrated together to make an application. While in theory all the pieces of an application could be built into a single container, it is better to split an application into its relevant services and run a separate container for each service. There are several reasons for this, but the biggest one is scalability. Remember, the containers don’t care if they all run on the same physical machine or different machines. By splitting the services into different containers, we can tell them all to…

video-call-online-zoom-conference-business-team-gathered-for-an-online-meeting-in-zoom-app-on-a-computer-monitor-a-group-of-people-online-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Video call. Online zoom conference. Business team gathered for an online meeting in zoom app. On a computer monitor a group of people online

COVID-19: Technology Trends That Are Sneaking Up on Us Faster Now

Most of these changes, for better or worse, are probably here to stay

We knew big changes were coming. And that COVID-19 has ramped them up. But when experts expound grand generalities and wave their hands a lot, it can be hard to clearly see what a change means where we live and work. One writing teacher, for example, learned how to massively adapt all of a sudden: Each spring, I teach Writing about Oneself, a class on first-person reading and writing, to 12 Yale undergraduates chosen from 100 or so… Every year I fill out the registrar’s Pedagogical Needs Request Form, leaving 14 of the 15 “Technological Needs” boxes unchecked. (No, I don’t need a SMART board. No, I don’t need a digital projector. No, I don’t need a Blu-ray player.) The…

3d-rendered-fantasy-alien-landscape-with-abstract-formations-3d-illustration-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
3D Rendered Fantasy Alien Landscape With Abstract Formations - 3D Illustration

Seven Reasons (So Far) Why the Aliens Never Show Up

Some experts think they became AI and some that they were killed by their AI but others say they never existed. Who's most likely right?

Science fiction author Matt Williams is writing a series at Universe Today that offers the leading explanations for why They never write, They never phone… It’s based on an incident in 1950 when Italian physicist Enrico Fermi (1901–1954) asked colleagues at the Los Alamos National Laboratory a question: If space aliens are a sure thing, “Where is everybody?” As Seth Shostak puts it at Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), The remark came while Fermi was discussing with his mealtime mates the possibility that many sophisticated societies populate the Galaxy. They thought it reasonable to assume that we have a lot of cosmic company. But somewhere between one sentence and the next, Fermi’s supple brain realized that if this was true,…

containers-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
containers

Part 3: Working with Docker: An Interactive Tutorial

Docker gives development teams more reliable, repeatable, and testable systems, deployed at massive scale with the click of a button

As businesses move more and more infrastructure online due to the effects of competition (not to mention COVID-19), finding the best way to manage that infrastructure becomes more and more important. Docker gives development teams more reliable, repeatable, and testable systems that can be deployed at massive scale with the click of a button. In this series (Parts 1 and 2 are linked below), we are looking under the hood at Docker, an infrastructure management tool that has grown rapidly in popularity over the last decade. In this installment, I will walk you through the process of using the Docker command line tools to download, install, and run containers, as well as build your own container. If you’re not a…

Stack of shipment boxes.jpg
Interior of warehouse storage, Stack of shipment boxes on pallets and hand pallet truck, Warehouse industry delivery shipment goods, logistics and transportation.

Part 2: A Peek Under the Covers at the New Docker Technology

Many advances enable Docker to significantly reduce a system’s overhead

As businesses move more and more of their infrastructure online due to the effects of competition (not to mention COVID-19), finding the best way to manage that infrastructure becomes more and more important. As we saw in Part 1, Docker enables development teams to have more reliable, repeatable, and testable systems that can be deployed at massive scale with the click of a button. In this installment, we are going to take a look at the technology behind Docker and how it originated. From Emulators to Virtual Machines Docker allows you to run numerous “containers” at the same time on a single computer. Each of these containers acts as if it were a separate computer. It knows nothing about what…

oh-no-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Oh no!

Six Limitations of Artificial Intelligence As We Know It

You’d better hope it doesn’t run your life, as Robert J. Marks explains to Larry Linenschmidt

The list is a selection from “Bingecast: Robert J. Marks on the Limitations of Artificial Intelligence,” a discussion between Larry L. Linenschmidt of the Hill Country Institute and Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks. The focus on why we mistakenly attribute understanding and creativity to computers. The interview was originally published by the Hill Country Institute and is reproduced with thanks.  https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-097-Robert-Marks.mp3 Here is a partial transcript, listing six limits of AI as we know it: (The Show Notes, Additional Resources, and a link to the full transcript are below.) 1. Computers can do a great deal but, by their nature, they are limited to algorithms. Larry L. Linenschmidt: When I read the term “classical computer,” how does a computer function? Let’s build on…

Digital globe with mosaic of images
Digital globe with mosaic of images

Why Some Nation States Are Banning TikTok

The United States is not alone in questioning the social medium’s allegiance to the Chinese government

Why is TikTok so controversial? It’s the first Chinese technology company that has reached a billion users outside of China. Its main demographic is Generation Z—teens and twenty-somethings. If you take a look at TikTok videos, most are goofy and irreverent. They’re frenetic shorts of everything from fashion tips to pranks and, of course, (bad) dancing. TikTok’s stated mission is to “inspire creativity and bring joy.” What could go wrong? Here’s what. Working with China, as Disney and the NBA can attest, comes with certain strings attached, including acquiescing to the Chinese Communist Party’s rules for acceptable speech. Because ByteDance, which owns TikTok, is a Chinese company (although partly owned by investors from the U.S. and Japan), the Chinese Communist…

glorious-sky-elements-of-this-image-furnished-by-nasa-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Glorious Sky - Elements of this Image Furnished by NASA

Bernardo Kastrup Argues for a Universal Mind as a Reasonable Idea

The challenge, he says, is not why there is consciousness but why there are so many separate instances of consciousnesses

In a recent podcast, Michael Egnor continued his discussion with philosopher and computer programmer Bernardo Kastrup; This week, the topic was panpsychism and cosmopsychism. (Last week, the topic was why consciousness couldn’t just evolve from the mud.) https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-096-Bernardo-Kastrup.mp3 A partial transcript follows: (The complete transcript is here. The Show Notes and Resources are below.) Dr. Kastrup made clear that he is not a panpsychism but rather a cosmopsychist. He explains the difference, defining panpsychism as follows: Bernardo Kastrup (pictured): Panpsychism, well, to be more accurately called constitutive panpsychism, it’s the notion that at least some of the elementary particles that constitutes the universe, at least some of them, are fundamentally conscious. In other words, they have experiential states, fundamental experiential…

bottle-of-prescription-medication-stockpack-unsplash.jpg
Bottle of prescription medication.

The “Morality Pill” Hormone Does Not Make People “Nicer”

After an initial buzz as a “love hormone” we should all be dosed with, oxytocin started to reveal a big down side

Recently, we looked at the revival of enthusiasm for a morality pill on the grounds that it could make people do what authorities say with respect to COVID-19. Many of these proposals focus on the neuropeptide oxytocin. As a current advocate explains, These substances interact directly with the psychological underpinnings of moral behavior; others that make you more rational could also help. Then, perhaps, the people who choose to go maskless or flout social distancing guidelines would better understand that everyone, including them, is better off when they contribute, and rationalize that the best thing to do is cooperate. Paul Crutchfield, The Conversation, “‘Morality pills’ may be the US’s best shot at ending the coronavirus pandemic, according to one ethicist”…

falling-pills-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
falling pills

COVID-19 Drives the Latest Proposal for a “Morality Pill”

Those who don't comply with government policy would be urged or forced to take it

University of Western Michigan philosophy professor Parker Crutchfield (pictured) recently suggested getting people to take a pill to promote more “pro-social” behavior in order to better fight off COVID-19. He argues that the United States is not equipped for a fight against the disease just by expecting everyone to work together, as in, say, World Wars I and II: It seems that the U.S. is not currently equipped to cooperatively lower the risk confronting us. Many are instead pinning their hopes on the rapid development and distribution of an enhancement to the immune system—a vaccine. But I believe society may be better off, both in the short term as well as the long, by boosting not the body’s ability to…

wolf-spider-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Wolf Spider

Why Do We Fear Spiders More Than Bees?

It’s a peculiarity of human psychology that science fiction writers have exploited

Children of Time, the novel that won the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award for Adrian Tchaikovsky in 2016, featured a classic science fiction theme: Humanity faces a superior civilization—in this case, a civilization of intelligent spiders. The novel uses and reimagines familiar science fiction conceits – terraforming, superintelligence, a decaying starship – in a story that interweaves the development of an empire of spiders accidentally gifted intelligence with the descent into barbarism of a starship crew searching for a new home. Its thoughtful depiction of two civilisations trying to understand each other cleverly inverts the usual narrative of planetary conquest, and features startling moments of cognitive estrangement during clashes with the alien, yet sympathetically drawn, spiders. Paul Mcauley, “Tale of…

group-of-people-swims-in-a-mud-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
group of people swims in a mud

Why Consciousness Couldn’t Just Evolve from the Mud

Kastrup, a panpsychist, is sympathetic to the basic intuitions behind the idea that there is design in nature (intelligent design theory)
In a recent podcast, “Does the Moon Exist if No One is Looking at It?”, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviewed philosopher and computer programmer Bernardo Kastrup. Dr. Kastrup has been, in Dr. Egnor’s words, “leading a modern renaissance of metaphysical idealism”—that is, reality is essentially mental rather than physical. Read More ›
senior-woman-with-family-photo-on-tablet-pc-screen-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
senior woman with family photo on tablet pc screen

What Neuroscientists Now Know About How Memories Are Born and Die

Where, exactly are our memories? Are modern media destroying them? Could we erase them if we wanted to?

At one time, neuroscientists believed that there must be a “seat” of memory in the brain, something like a room with a door marked Memory. They settled on two structures called hippocampi, on either side of the brain’s base. The illustration shows the the hippocampus of the right hemisphere (public domain). But memories turned out to have no fixed address. Neuroscientist Matthew Cobb, author of The Idea of the Brain (2020, excerpt here), tells us, But the hippocampuses are not the site of memory storage. Rather, these brain regions are the encoders and the routes through which memory formation seems to pass. The memories that are processed by the hippocampuses seem to be distributed across distant regions of the brain.…

hemispheres of brain.jpg
Creative background, the human brain on a blue background, the hemisphere is responsible for logic, and responsible for creativity. different hemispheres of the brain, 3D illustration, 3D render

Why the Mind Can’t Just Be the Brain

Thinking it through carefully, the idea doesn't even make sense

Philosopher Roger Scruton (1944–2020) defined neuroscience thus (I paraphrase): Neuroscience is a huge collection of answers with no memory of the questions. Over the past century, neuroscientists have amassed vast libraries of data. But their interpretation of their data on the mind-brain question shows no meaningful understanding of the genuine questions their research is tasked to answer. These questions are ancient: What is the relationship between the soul (or mind) and the body (or brain)? How is it that matter can think? How is it that third-person stuff gives rise to first-person experience? Answers to such questions from the neuroscience community show little evidence of the profound and subtle nature of the questions. Thus, neuroscientists provide answers to questions they…

futuristic-science-fiction-bedroom-interior-with-planet-earth-view-in-space-station-3d-rendering-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Futuristic Science Fiction Bedroom Interior with Planet Earth View in Space Station, 3D Rendering

When Science Fiction Comes to Life…

Truth is not only stranger than fiction, it sometimes grows out of it

A senior editor at Wired told us a while back that science fiction writer H. G. Wells’s 1914 tale, The World Set Free, formed part of the inspiration for the atomic bomb, exploded over Hiroshima in 1945. … in the novel Wells imagines a new kind of bomb, based on a nuclear chain reaction. In this science fiction story Wells imagines that atomic energy would be discovered in 1933 (20 years in his future), and that the bomb would first explode in 1956. Wikipedia notes, “As fate or coincidence would have it, in reality the physicist Leó Szilárd read the book in 1932, conceived of the idea of nuclear chain reaction in 1933, and filed for patents on it in…

augmented-reality-application-for-retail-business-concept-hand-holding-smart-phone-with-ar-application-on-screen-to-finding-interested-product-in-the-store-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Augmented reality application for retail business concept. Hand holding smart phone with A/R application on screen to finding interested product in the store.

The Amazing Things We Can Do with Virtual and Augmented Reality

The “father of virtual reality,” Thomas Furness, talks to Robert J. Marks about his vision for the future

In a recent podcast, “Robert J. Marks and Thomas Furness on VR and AR,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks continued his discussion with the “grandfather of virtual reality,” Thomas Furness. They focused on the cutting edge of virtual reality today. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-094-Thomas-Furness.mp3 Transcript. Partial transcript: Robert J. Marks: So, Dr. Furness, we have been talking about a number of fascinating things, but there’s still some things that I’d like to talk to you about. Another one is ARToolworks. Now, AR stands for augmented reality. Thomas Furness: Now, the difference really is between the VRs generally, where you are completely immersed in a computer-generated environment. That’s all you see is the computer generation of images. AR, on the other hand,…

antibiotic-resistant-bacteria-inside-a-biofilm-3d-illustration-biofilm-is-a-community-of-bacteria-where-they-aquire-antibiotic-resistance-and-communicate-with-each-other-by-quorum-sensing-molecules-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
Antibiotic resistant bacteria inside a biofilm, 3D illustration. Biofilm is a community of bacteria where they aquire antibiotic resistance and communicate with each other by quorum sensing molecules

In What Ways Are Bacteria Intelligent?

As antibiotic resistance grows, researchers are discovering that these microbes are not just single, simple cells

Recently, Princeton University physicist Robert Austin challenged his graduate student Trung Phan to design a maze that he (Austin) couldn’t solve: Austin, Phan discovered, tended to retrace his steps when he encountered a dead end. So Tran decided on a maze without dead ends. The true purpose of the experiment, as Sophia Chen recounts at Wired, was to design a maze that bacteria can solve with remarkable skill based on their colony organization which, if you like, stands in for a brain: Curiously, bacteria—single-celled organisms that are among the simplest living things—are well known for working together, creating problem-solving units that are more than the sum of their parts. For example, to protect themselves from your immune system, the bacteria…