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Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

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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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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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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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Rest in Peace Posters of Dr Li Wenliang, who warned authorities about the coronovirus outbreak seen at Hosier Lane in Melbourne, Australia. Hosier Lane is known for its street art.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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