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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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If Your Brain Were Cut in Half, Would You Still Be One Person?

Yes, with minor disabilities. Roger Sperry’s split-brain research convinced him that the mind and free will are real

The true significance of the split-brain experiments goes far beyond the significance of the lateralization of the brain; your essential unity also points to the immaterial nature of the mind.

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Western lowland gorilla, Gorilla gorilla

How Not To Debate Materialists

This is the story of how a gifted scientist lost a debate with a Darwinist — a debate he should have won

Although ape brains do differ somewhat from human brains in cortical anatomy, it is the similarity between the brains of apes and men, rather than the differences, that provide striking evidence of human exceptionalism.

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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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Stanford’s AI Index Report: How Much Is BS?

Some measurements of AI’s economic impact sound like the metrics that fueled the dot-com bubble

Stanford University’s AI index offers us fanciful measures of the triumph of AI, rivaling the far-fetched metrics of dot-com commerce. The reality has been the opposite. For decades, U.S. productivity grew by about 3% a year. Then, after 1970, it slowed to 1.5% a year, then 1%, now about 0.5%. Perhaps we are spending too much time on our smartphones.

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The Mind’s Reality Is Consistent with Neuroscience

A neglected “dualist” theory offers some insights

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor thinks that the explanation of the relationship of the mind to the brain that best fits today’s neuroscience is that certain powers, particularly the intellect and will, are not generated by matter but are immaterial. However, other properties of the mind, like perception, memory and imagination are physical, generated by brain matter.

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Middle aged Asian man wearing glasses and medical face mask on public train, Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, air pollution and health concept

Coronavirus in a World Without Trust

In China, medical heroism thrives despite both paranoia and justified mistrust of authorities

While China’s citizens are living in an information vacuum, the government has stepped up its surveillance strategies in order to track people who have been near someone infected with the coronavirus. Some commentators consider these measures disproportionate to the actual risk posed to others and in violation of human rights. Others see them as necessary.

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バイナリーコードの背景

Superintelligent AI Is Still a Myth

Neither the old classical approaches nor the new data scientific angle can make any headway on good ol’ common sense

The official Winograd Schema Challenge, organized by Levesque and friends to see if AI could learn common sense, was retired officially in 2016 for the embarrassing reason that even the well-funded bleeding age Google Brain team performed poorly on a test set of a few hundred questions.

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Censorship? But Coronavirus Doesn’t Care!

Back when SARS was a threat, social media wasn’t the giant it is today. Censorship, secrecy, and detention are less effective tools of control now

Coronavirus provides a test. The Chinese Communist Party offers mainland Chinese people security and prosperity in exchange for the sacrifice of personal freedom. But when the government cannot uphold its end of the agreement—security—the people may become less tolerant of the human rights violations. And the age of information makes it much easier to discover them.

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Does the Information Society Need a Free Market?

The Gilder Fellows’ July Seminar will wrestle with why Millennials favor socialism

Many Millennials yearn for socialism but, according to the Gilder Fellows scholars, socialism is—at best—irrelevant to the challenges of an information society.

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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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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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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 ›