Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Tag___longform

An internet email symbol and a group of people are separated by a red prohibitory symbol No. restrictions on access to the global Internet. Censorship. Information control, society isolation policy

Can a Totalitarian State Be an Information Society?

Beijing’s clumsy social media campaigns against democracy in Hong Kong and Taiwan have failed but attempts to control local media are ramping up

Xi believes that the Western values of a free press, free speech, and separation of powers contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union and that China must avoid them so as not to succumb to the same fate. But the Soviet Union fell just before the internet became today’s information superhighway.

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Photo by Wherda Arsianto

Serious Media In China Have Gone Strangely Silent

With a compulsory new app, the government can potentially access journalists’ phones, both for surveillance and capturing data

Liu Hu sums up the scene in a few words: “Outside of China, journalists are fired for writing false reports… Inside China, they are fired for telling the truth.”

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black mathematics board with formulas

Faith Is the Most Fundamental of the Mathematical Tools

An early twentieth century clash of giants showed that even mathematics depends on some unprovable assumptions

David Hilbert wanted all mathematics to be proved by logical steps. Kurt Gödel showed that no axiomatic system could be complete and consistent at the same time.

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Group Of Businesspeople Identified By AI System

How To Fool Facial Recognition

Changing a couple of pixels here and there can stump a computer

Both computers and humans can be fooled by patterns that appear significant but really aren’t. But the bigger the computer, the more random patterns it can find in the vast swathes of data processed.

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The Expanse Still Image

Sci-Fi TV: 2019’s Best and Worst

2019 featured many sci-fi television and movies that were less sci-fi than political narrative

In 2019, I fell out with Netflix. I felt bombarded by more and more edgy content, as though Netflix wanted me to know how “adult” it is. Rather than producing a few amazing originals, Netflix started vomiting up a ton of terrible originals.

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The mankind races - ethnic and multi ethnic - scientific model - concept

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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China and Australia puzzles from flags, 3D rendering

Weighing the Costs of China’s High-Tech Power

Western nations like New Zealand, Australia, and Canada must weigh Beijing’s demands carefully

Smaller Western countries, dependent on high-tech cooperation and the promise of huge markets in China, have muted their protests over Hong Kong and even accept Chinese government censorship in their own territories. That can put them in conflict with their own stated values.

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A man going through the dark old tunnel. Tunnel with traffic lights and a silhouette of a man

What If a Near-Death Experience Is a Vision of Hell?

Oddly, even distressing near-death experiences have had positive effects, say researchers

One researcher observes at Psychology Today that the strongest predictor of a successful suicide attempt is a previous failed suicide attempt—unless the person has had a near-death experience, in which case further suicide attempts are unlikely.

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One belt one road. New Chinese trade silk road. map infographics

Why China Leans Hard on Central Asia

The region is critical to China’s ambitions, hence the generous offers of state-of-the-art surveillance technology

Where is all of the data going and where is it stored? The short answer is China. The Central Asian countries’ current laws do not adequately protect their citizens’ privacy. In fact, most countries in the world do not have adequate laws to deal with the potential harms of facial recognition technology.

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Robot's body

Would You Want Immortal Life as a Cyborg?

Would you give up your right arm for a robotic device that performs better? Think about it

Transhumanism can mean uploading one’s mind into cyberspace. But some transhumanists hope to slowly morph into “immortal cyborgs” with endlessly replaceable parts. Five years ago, we were told, we were all turning into cyborgs: Did you recently welcome a child into the world? Congratulations! An upstanding responsible parent such as yourself is surely doing all you can to prepare your little one for all the pitfalls life has in store. However, thanks to technology, children born in 2014 may face a far different set of issues than you ever had to. And we’re not talking about simply learning to master a new generation of digital doohickeys, we’re talking about living in a world in which the very definition of “human” Read More ›

asian business woman in a heated discussion

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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light at the end of the tunnel

Why Medical Scientists Take Near-Death Experiences Seriously Now

Today, we know much more about what happens to people when they die—and what we are learning does not support materialism

Near-death experiences are generally seen as real, even among hardcore skeptics, and research focuses on how to account for them.

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Artificial Intelligence and Transhumanism - illustration

Transhumanism—Is It a Dangerous Idea?

Some Silicon Valley greats hope to merge with machines to live forever. But what then?

The late philosopher Jerry Fodor (1935—2017) said that the reason “we’re all materialists” is that the alternatives seem even worse. Transhumanism, had he lived to see it develop, would give him pause for further reflection. 

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Detail of cyborg eye and robot.3d illustration

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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Cuboid with Digital Zeros and Ones

How Much Google Do You Really Need?

As more people are becoming concerned about Big Tech’s snooping and apparent political ambitions, practical responses are emerging

Getting away from constant surveillance and dangerous little bubbles of manipulated information is easier than some users may realize, tech pioneers and experts say. You can make simple changes today.

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Hong Kong Protests pleafor peace Erin Song Unsplash B05XahTDS6k

Hong Kong: Face Mask Ban Fuels Fiercer Protest

The masks, like many of the protesters’ strategies, circumvent China’s omnipresent high-tech surveillance

The Chinese government may use violent behavior as a justification for obliterating the Hongkongers’ prized freedoms. As a possible precedent, the Uyghur people, as a whole, were painted as religious extremists, even though only about 1,000 people participated in violent protests.

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Robot holding blank advertising billboard 3d rendering

How You Can Really Know You’re Talking to a Computer

In a lively exchange, computer science experts offer some savvy advice

Claims that a given program has “passed the Turing test” should be treated skeptically because a program can be optimized to pass the Turing test without demonstrating any particular intelligence.

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White cyborg finger about to touch human finger 3D rendering

The Three Laws of Robotics Have Failed the Robots

Almost no one out there thinks that Isaac Asimov's Three Laws could work for truly intelligent AI
Prolific science and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov (1920–1992) developed the Three Laws of Robotics, in the hope of guarding against potentially dangerous artificial intelligence. Jonathan Bartlett, Brendan Dixon, and Eric Holloway discuss what went wrong. Read More ›
what will you choose? Fresh healthy berries come out from the bowl or junk potato fries from paper box

Can Free Will Really Be a Scientific Idea?

Yes, if we look at it from the perspective of information theory
It is possible to empirically distinguish an entity with free will from an entity that runs according to chance and necessity alone, while staying entirely within the methodology of modern science. Read More ›
concept of self-driving car

Will Industry Pressure Loosen Self-Driving Car Tests?

Right now, the regulatory agency is under pressure to accept the industry’s “softball” testing suggestions
The regulatory agency (NHTSA) needs to adapt. But trusting technical documentation alone or only testing already sold vehicles is grossly insufficient. Technical documentation is what engineers think should happen; it is not the future. And testing sold vehicles creates an incentive to skimp on tests. Read More ›