Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

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Doctor with MRI scan

Neuroscience Refutes Free Will? Addressing an Objection

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is not as good as Libet’s methods for assessing real-time effects

In reply to a post in which I pointed out that neuroscience strongly supports the reality of free will, commenter AaronS1978 makes a point at Uncommon Descent: First Michael Egnor is wrong about there being no brain wave activity with free won’t Patrick Haggard in 2014 discovered accidotal brain waves to free won’t I feel he kind of makes declarations, I understand his position philosophically and I do agree with a lot of it, but saying there is no activity before free won’t and saying it’s immaterial is incorrect Furthermore why wouldn’t there be brain activity when exercising your will? Wouldn’t that just mean that your soul was using your brain? Isn’t consciousness and conscious experience (hard problem of the…

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black swan In a pond

It’s Hard To Estimate Highly Improbable Things Like Earthquakes

Some have hoped that AI would provide reliable help with predicting They have been disappointed

Investors often overreact to both good and bad news. When a company’s quarterly earnings turn out to be slightly below forecasts, its stock price might plunge 20 percent or more. Thus, when theoretical models of the stock market models assume that price changes conform to a bell-shaped curve of normal distribution, that assumption is more convenient than credible. Another inconvenient truth is that many investors are prone to chasing trends up or down. After a stock’s price has gone up, they rush to buy, which pushes the price even higher. When these two realities meet head-on, stock returns are sometimes more extremely good or bad than would be true of a normal distribution. On October 19, 1987, the S&P 500…

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Autopilot self-driving car system with no human intervention. Close up cropped image of hand of African male driver browsing the internet using smartphone and touchscreen in futuristic autonomous car

Self-Driving Cars: Waymo Beats Tesla By Picking the Right Target

Trying to get the human out of the loop, as Musk proposes, becomes increasingly costly as the complexity increases

Full self-driving has been a contentious topic in the last few years. In 2016, Elon Musk started claiming that his cars had all the hardware needed to do full self-driving, and that the software would be there by 2019. You would be able to summon a car from across the United States and it would drive across the country, recharging as needed, to pick you up, no driver needed. He has specifically indicated that he means Level 5 autonomy, which means that no driver is needed at all. The driver can sleep, watch a movie, or just hang out in the back seat. In fact, in 2016, he indicated that drivers were merely there for regulatory purposes. Musk’s claims about…

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Getting to know the neighbors at the country houses in village

Why Is AI a Key Battleground in Philosophy and Religion?

Tech philosopher George Gilder explains. Spoiler: He thinks humans will win

In this week’s podcast, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviews futurist George Gilder on “How AI is gaming intelligence.” Their discussion stems from Gilder’s new book, Gaming AI: Why AI Can’t Think But Can Transform Jobs (free for download here). https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-105-George-Gilder.mp3 From the transcript: (Show Notes, Resources, and a link to the complete transcript follow.) Robert J. Marks (pictured): In general, do you see AI as a new demotion of the human race? This is pretty serious prose. George Gilder: Well, it declares that the human mind is just a machine that can be simulated by computer algorithms … thus demoting the human endeavor from being the center of everything, to becoming a mere planet of a larger…

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Artificial Intelligence. Composition on the subject of Future Technologies. 3d rendered graphics.

Why AI Geniuses Haven’t Created True Thinking Machines

The problems have been hinting at themselves all along

As we saw yesterday, artificial intelligence (AI) has enjoyed a a string of unbroken successes against humans. But these are successes in games where the map is the territory. Therefore, everything is computable. That fact hints at the problem tech philosopher and futurist George Gilder raises in Gaming AI (free download here). Whether all human activities can be treated that way successfully is an entirely different question. As Gilder puts it, “AI is a system built on the foundations of computer logic, and when Silicon Valley’s AI theorists push the logic of their case to a “singularity,” they defy the most crucial findings of twentieth-century mathematics and computer science.” Here is one of the crucial findings they defy (or ignore):…

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infrastructure portuaire

Making Docker Work in Your Computer Infrastructure

Here are some best practices for building Docker images

If you use Docker to manage your infrastructure, you need to put time into thinking about how to build it. Here is a quick rundown of the things to keep in mind: Smaller is Better By itself, Docker makes great use of filesystem space. Because each container only holds the changes from the images, a little bit of image bloat doesn’t directly impact the server adversely. However, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t worry about bloat at all. Not only should we not waste space without reason, images that are too big cause other problems that you need to be aware of. The most important consideration is attack surface. Every program that you have on your image is a potential…

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Intelligent robot cyborg using digital globe interface 3D rendering

Why AI Geniuses Think They Can Create True Thinking Machines

Early on, it seemed like a string of unbroken successes …

In George Gilder’s telling, the story goes back to Bletchley Park, where British codebreakers broke the “unbreakable” Nazi ciphers. In Gaming AI, the tech philosopher and futurist traces the modern concept of a machine that really thinks for itself back to its earliest known beginnings. Free for download, his concise book also explains why the programmers were bound to fail in their quest for the supermachine. But let’s start with why they thought—and many today still think— it could work. Success emboldened the pioneers to dream of a final AI triumph They had every reason to be emboldened by success. Special computers called “bombes,” created by Alan Turing’s team, broke every version of the famous Enigma code used by the…

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Robot concept or robot hand chatbot pressing computer keyboard enter

Can a Machine Really Write for the New Yorker?

If AI wins at chess and Go, why not? Then someone decided to test that…

Tech philosopher and futurist George Gilder (pictured) has a new book out, Gaming AI. Short and sweet, it explains how artificial intelligence (AI) will—and won’t—revolutionize the economy and human life. Get your free digital copy here. And now, below is a short piece he wrote, unpacking one of the book’s themes—the claim that AI can do anything that humans can do. Find out why he says no: Ilya Sutskever (pictured) may be the smartest man in the world you have never heard of. No sweat, I hadn’t heard of him either. Still under 40, he’s part of the all-male Google mindfest around “Google Brain.” His IQ honed at Open University of Israel and mentored by Artificial Intelligence (AI) pioneer Geoffrey…

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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…

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Hands of a man tearing a piece of paper with inscription free will

Neuroscience Can Help Us Understand Why Free Will Is Real

Physicist Sabine Hossenfelder and biologist Jerry Coyne, who deny free will, don’t seem to understand the neuroscience

Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne seems obsessed with denying free will. In a recent post on his blog, Why Evolution Is True, he supported the claim of theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder that we do not have free will: If you’ve read this site, you’ll know that my own views are pretty much the same as hers, at least about free will. We don’t have it, and the fundamental indeterminacy of quantum mechanics doesn’t give it to us either. Hossenfelder doesn’t pull any punches: “This means in a nutshell that the whole story of the universe in every single detail was determined already at the big bang. We are just watching it play out.”… QED! Jerry Coyne, “Sabine Hossenfelder says we don’t…

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Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh on outline map

The First War Using Modern AI-Based Weapons Is Here

Most introductions of new technology in warfare will ultimately be canceled by counter-technology. But in the meantime…

AI weapons are being used in the border war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. And the results are not pretty: Israel may halt commercial weapon sales to Azerbaijan, Armenian Ambassador to Israel Armen Smbatyan told The Jerusalem Post, as fighting intensified for the ninth day between the two countries… Last week, Armenia recalled Smbatyan for consultations to protest the sale of Israeli made weapons, including drones, to Azerbaijan, which have been used against its forces. Tovah Lazaroff, “Israel may halt its weapons sale to Azerbaijan, Armenian ambassador says” at The Jerusalem Post (October 6, 2020) The most chilling—readily achievable—AI weaponry is a swarm of armed drones. Drones are inexpensive and easily deployed, and if only a few drones make it through…

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View on russian pilotless air craft. Military drones on exhibition

Russia Is Systematically Copying U.S. Military AI Robotics

In Russia’s topdown system, the military and corporations are essentially part of the same enterprise

This week’s podcast, “AI development in Russia,” is Part 2 of a podcast featuring Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks in discussion with Samuel Bendett about Russia’s intended military uses of AI. Bendett is an advisor to the Russia Studies Program and the Center for Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence of the CNA Adversary Analysis Group. Last week, Marks and Bendett discussed Russia’s advances in facial recognition techniques for the surveillance of civilians. In the background was Vladimir Putin’s famous 2017 pronouncement in 2017, “Artificial intelligence is the future not only of Russia but of all of mankind… Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.” What are the military implications? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-104-Samuel-Bendett.mp3 From the…

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Frog with Turtle and Snail

To What Extent Does Life Simply Invent Itself As It Goes Along?

The evidence may surprise us

According to a popular anti-creationist website Talk Origins, one of the strongest pieces of evidence for evolution and common descent is the phylogenetic signal. In their view, when we look at specific properties across multiple species — number of legs, presence or absence of wings, the presence of a gene, a configuration of nucleotides in the genome, etc. — such properties will form a strongly nested hierarchy. We should expect to see such a strongly nested hierarchy if organisms evolved from one another and therefore a “family tree” links all the organisms together. However, if a property that appears only on a branch, it will be shared only by that branch’s leaves. Leaves on a different branch will not have…

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Analysis of a sample of water from a river or sea, ocean. The scientist in the glove took water in a test tube.

Information Today Is Like Water in the Ocean. How Do We Test It?

Often, we must sort through many layers of bias in information to get at the facts that matter
Examining specific types of bias in our thinking will help us evaluate the information on key issues that inundates us today. Read More ›
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Glasswing butterfly

Technology? Hey, Bugs Invented It All Before Us!

Do bugs really show no evidence of design? Computer engineers can test that

Bugs look like little robots, don’t they? Living robots, too, defying our best our attempts to recreate something like them. A 2018 science paper “It’s Not a Bug, It’s a Feature: Functional Materials in Insects” goes into just how amazing these little creatures are from a materials sciences perspective. The paper is open access so you can read it for yourself. But let me also illustrate some of the remarkable “technologies” insects use, captured on video: This bionic “dragonfly” really flies, sort of: But so do billions of wild dragonflies who fly very efficiently, in order to hunt: The range of material capabilities is astonishing. Cicadas have a clicking loudspeaker they use to amplify their racket. Tiger moths have a…

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Stethoscope on an old book of medicine, conceptual image

Should We Really “Listen to Science”? What Should We Listen For?

Politicians who insist that their beliefs represent science might be surprised by the checkered history of that view

This political season, politicians are telling us to “listen to science.” But buyer beware. The politicization of science is a long and sad history of so-called “scientific truths” that were not only mistaken but resulted in tragedy. Those who know a bit of this history should be wary of politicians’ table-pounding claims on topics ranging from climate change to COVID. In a 2003 lecture at Caltech, Michael Crichton, MD (pictured in 2002, courtesy Jon Chase CC BY-SA 3.0), author of great science fiction including Jurassic Park, noted, “science has in some instances been seduced by the more ancient lures of politics and publicity.” For example, racism was “settled science” in the early 20th century. So was eugenics, the so-called science…

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Female doctor analyzing liquid in test tube

The Decline Effect: Why Most Medical Treatments Are Disappointing

Artificial intelligence is not an answer to this problem, as Walmart may soon discover
Random variation, post-hoc fallacies, and data mining mean that “proven” treatments often decline in apparent effectiveness when released to the general public. Read More ›
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China: COVID-19’s True History Finds an Unlikely Home — GitHub

The Chinese Communist party, rewriting the COVID-19 story with itself as the hero, must reckon with truthful techies

For a brief window of time at the beginning of 2020, China’s internet censors didn’t block stories about Wuhan and COVID-19, the coronavirus. Caixin, a widely-read news magazine, published a multi-page investigative report on everything leading up to the outbreak, including the way in which the provincial authorities in Hubei, of which Wuhan is the capital, suppressed knowledge of the virus. Fang Fang, an award-winning novelist, kept a Wuhan diary online on Weibo, which was recently published as a book in the U.S. (HarperCollins 2020). For that short time, comments on the coronavirus were not being censored (Wired) at WeChat. Many people were thus able to vent their frustrations and pay their respects when 32-year-old ophthalmologist and whistleblower Li Wenliang…

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Brain doodle illustration with textures

Your Mind vs. Your Brain: Ten Things To Know

Although we are only beginning to understand the workings of the brain, it clearly isn't the same thing as the mind

Here are some reasons why they aren’t really the same: 1.Is the human brain unique in some way? Yes, but not so much in its structure as in the things we do with it. For example, the human, mouse, and fly brains all use the same basic mechanisms, which is a bit of a puzzle, considering the different things we do with our brains. The human brain is bigger than most. But then lemurs performed as well as chimps on the primate cognitive test battery (a primate intelligence test) and lemurs only have brains that are 1/200th the size of chimps’ brains. So, what we humans are doing differently from lemurs and chimps doesn’t depend wholly on brain size either.…

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Crypto currency background with various of shiny silver and golden physical cryptocurrencies symbol coins, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, zcash, ripple

Has COVID-19 Helped or Harmed Crypto and Blockchain?

Cryptocurrencies rebounded after an initial slump earlier this year

The recently aired discussion at COSM about the future of bitcoin and other privately minted cryptocurrencies took place last October, before COVID-19 was much thought of in the Western world. Catching up, the cryptos and blockchain had a rough ride earlier this year but they have stabilized recently. In February, as the pandemic sent markets scurrying, things were looking grim for the cryptos: During the last week, the spread of the coronavirus has been all over the news; the virus, which had remained well-contained in China, spread throughout South Korea, Iran, Italy, and is now reaching its fingers into other parts of Europe. The New York Times reported on Thursday that “the signs were everywhere…that the epidemic shaking much of…