Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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Hands hold a paper sheet with the message your vote matters over a crowded street background. People legal and democratic rights, every voice counts. Election campaign and electoral agitation concept

How Crypto Can Help Secure Fair Elections

Here’s what we need for a cryptosecure election protocol (CEP)

(Recently, we’ve been asking readers to think about Alice and Bob, the famous pair in physics used to demonstrate propositions in a variety of contexts but we began to focus on what happens if Alice and Bob are competing for a political office. Bernard Fickser, whose argument for reform we have been following, offers a look at how a crypto secure election system might work.) We now come to the most interesting part of this article, namely, a cryptographically based protocol for securing elections. If such a protocol can be made to fly, it will do much to secure free and fair elections as well as to boost voter confidence that votes are being accurately counted and not mixed with…

Brown Nautilus Shell

Walter Bradley Center: Year in Review 2020

Despite COVID-19, we had a very productive year

Mind Matters News is sponsored by the non-profit Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence at Discovery Institute. Will you help Mind Matters News continue by supporting the work of the Bradley Center with an end-of-year donation? In a world awash with over-hyped claims (both pro and con) about artificial intelligence, the work of the Bradley Center couldn’t be more timely and important. People know at a fundamental level that they are not machines. But faulty thinking can cause people to adopt views that in their heart of hearts they know to be untrue. The Bradley Center seeks to help individuals—and our society at large—to realize that we are not machines, while at the same time helping to put…

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Data technology background. Big data visualization. Flow of data. Information code. Background in a matrix style. 4k rendering.

Torturing Data Can Destroy a Career: The Case of Brian Wansink

Wansink wasn’t alone. A surprising number of studies published in highly respected peer-reviewed journals are complete nonsense and could not be replicated with fresh data

Until a few years ago, Brian Wansink (pictured in 2007) was a Professor of Marketing at Cornell and the Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. He authored (or co-authored) more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and wrote two popular books, Mindless Eating and Slim by Design, which have been translated into more than 25 languages. In one of his most famous studies, 54 volunteers were served tomato soup. Half were served from normal bowls and half from “bottomless bowls” which had hidden tubes that imperceptibly refilled the bowls. Those with the bottomless bowls ate, on average, 73 percent more soup but they did not report feeling any fuller than the people who ate from normal bowls. Eating is evidently…

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nautilus shell

We’re the Walter Bradley Center. But Who Is Walter Bradley?

A new biography, For a Greater Purpose, discusses Bradley’s life and legacy

Mind Matters News is published by the Walter Bradley Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence. And a natural question is, who is this guy, Walter Bradley? Find out in a new biography authored by design theorist William Dembski and myself, For a Greater Purpose. The Foreword is written by the extraordinary philosopher J. P. Moreland. From the book, here’s what others are saying about Walter Bradley: ● “Walter Bradley is one of the most extraordinary men I have ever known. I am in awe of him.” —William Lane Craig, PhD, DTh, ReasonableFaith.org ● “One of the great blessings God has granted me in my life is the opportunity to have co-ministered with [Walter Bradley] among faculty and students on university…

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I caught a huge fish

#12! AI Is Going To Solve All Our Problems Soon!

In our countdown for the Top Twelve AI Hypes of 2020

First, before we get started: The AI industry has been making real progress. But with real progress comes real hype. That figures. We spent all year covering the real progress. Now that we are all kicking up our feet, we are going to send up some of the hype. We used to only have 10 top hypes but now we have 12. If progress continues at this pace, we might end up with 59 by 2050… Anyway, our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed fellow computer nerds, members of our Brain Trust, Jonathan Bartlett and Eric Holloway on their picks last Saturday. And here’s #12! The article itself is actually an admission rather than a hype but let’s…

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african american citizen voting near stand with vote lettering

What If Voters Could Sue for Lost or Altered Ballots?

Let’s look at the difference between what happens with financial fraud and electoral fraud

Recently, we’ve been asking readers to think about Alice and Bob, the famous pair in physics used to demonstrate propositions in a variety of contexts but, just for now. Let’s look at how Alice might be able to detect financial fraud, courtesy the blog Expensivity. Fraudster Frank can cheat Financial Alice. But how does she know? Bernard Fickser asks us to consider two ways… and to ask, what if it involves stealing her vote? 1.The money just disappeared. In this case there would be no record of any authorization by Alice, or by someone impersonating Alice, or by any bank official that she disbursed the funds. This would represent a cybersecurity failure on the part of the bank, and the…

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Mosquito stuck in honey

Hi Tech and China: The Long Game re Spying in the United States

The relationship between California’s Eric Swalwell and Fang Fang could be a thriller. But they say it really happened

An investigative report from news site Axios reveals that Christine Fang (better known as Fang Fang), a fundraiser for Representative Eric Swalwell (D.–California), not only interacted with political elites in California but cultivated relationships with two Midwestern governors. She is also accused of being a spy for China from 2011 to 2015. This story adds to the growing evidence that China is playing the long-game of influencing American politics: Start with promising figures at the bottom, not at the top: The case demonstrates China’s strategy of cultivating relationships that may take years or even decades to bear fruit. The Chinese Communist Party knows that today’s mayors and city council members are tomorrow’s governors and members of Congress.” Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian and…

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Bottom view close-up of four white surveillance cameras

How Toxic Bias Infiltrates Computer Code

A look at the dark underbelly of modern algorithms

The newly released documentary Coded Bias from Shalini Kantayya takes the viewer on a tour of the way modern algorithms can undermine justice and society and are actively subverting justice at the present moment. Coded Bias highlights many under-discussed issues regarding data and its usage by governments and corporations. While its prescriptions for government usage of data are well considered, the issue of corporate use of data involves many additional issues that the film skirts entirely. As the film points out, we are presented these algorithms as if they were a form of intelligence. But they are actually just math—and this math can be used to, intentionally or unintentionally, encode biases. In fact, as Bradley Center fellows Robert J. Marks…

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quantum computer closeup

Could Slowing Quantum Processes Lead To More Useful Computing?

“Adiabatic” quantum computing slows down the process, in the hope of achieving more reliable quantum positions

In a recent podcast, “Enrique Blair on quantum computing,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks talks with fellow computer engineer Enrique Blair about why quantum mechanics is so strange but important to our future. They discussed the prospects of slowing down quantum computing to make it more useful (adiabatic computing). https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-110-Enrique-Blair.mp3 The discussion of quantum communication begins at approximately 58:47. The Show Notes and transcript follow. Enrique Blair (pictured): I guess the challenge with entangling massive numbers of quantum systems is that entanglement becomes much more fragile. In quantum communication, you just need pairs of photons to be entangled. One with another, that’s it. Whereas with quantum computing, you need many, many systems to be entangled, and that’s just…

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burst set of random numbers glowing on a black background

How Spooky “Quantum Collapse” Can Give Us More Secure Encryption

If entangled photons linked to random numbers are transmitted, parties on either end can know, via high error rates, that they’ve been intercepted.

In a recent podcast, “Enrique Blair on quantum computing,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks talks with fellow computer engineer Enrique Blair about why quantum mechanics is so strange but important to our future. They discussed “quantum communication” (generally, quantum encryption) and why safer quantum encryption might be easier to achieve than general quantum computing. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-110-Enrique-Blair.mp3 The discussion of quantum communication begins at approximately 55:32. The Show Notes and transcript follow. Robert J. Marks: I know there’s lots of interesting quantum communication today. The NSF and the Department of Defense are throwing big bucks at it. What is it, just roughly? Enrique Blair: Quantum communication really is the use of quantum mechanics to share information in a secure manner.…

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Cybernetic Brain. Electronic chip in form of human brain in electronic cyberspace. Illustration on the subject of 'Artificial Intelligence'.

AI: Still Just Curve Fitting, Not Finding a Theory of Everything

The AI Feynman algorithm is impressive, as the New York Times notes, but it doesn’t devise any laws of physics

Judea Pearl, a winner of the Turing Award (the “Nobel Prize of computing”), has argued that, “All the impressive achievements of deep learning amount to just curve fitting.” Finding patterns in data may be useful but it is not real intelligence. A recent New York Times article, “Can a Computer Devise a Theory of Everything?” suggested that Pearl is wrong because computer algorithms have moved beyond mere curve fitting. Stephen Hawking’s 1980 prediction that, “The end might not be in sight for theoretical physics, but it might be in sight for theoretical physicists” was quoted. If computers can now devise theories that make theoretical physicists redundant, then they are surely smarter than the rest of us. The program behind the…

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A girl in a hat on top of a hill in silence and loneliness admires the calm natural landscape and balloons.

Why Consciousness Shows That Materialism Is False

The mind refutes materialism in a rather straightforward way

My friend and colleague Bill Dembski, a leading advocate of intelligent design of the universe and life forms, has done a superb short interview with Robert Lawrence Kuhn on Closer to Truth. Bill takes a position that will surprise many fellow Christians—he doesn’t believe that consciousness represents an insurmountable challenge to materialism: Bill makes the point that much of the popular argument hinges on shifting meanings of “materialism” and “consciousness.” By contrast, he argues, the design inference in biology is a much more effective challenge to materialism. I agree that design in nature is an effective challenge to materialism. But I also believe that the mind refutes materialism in a rather straightforward way—and in much the same way that evidence…

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Chinese English Bible.

China’s Door-to-Door Census Now Identifies Religious Believers

Census takers are urged to keep their eyes open for evidence of religious activity

China will complete its seventh census, begun on November 1, on December 10. New features that have prompted concern include: Residents must indicate whether they have family members in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan or if they have any family members outside of the country and those who are over sixty must indicate their state of health (Reuters, November 2, 2020). Some have resisted answering census takers’ questions for fear of losing rights and privileges under the new Social Credit System. But more than that, some seven million census takers go door-to-door, interviewing residents and entering information that goes directly to the government via mobile apps. Bitter Winter talked to several census takers who said they were instructed to pay…

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Concept of a futuristic quantum data center, supercomputer running with physical waves

Why Google’s “Quantum Supremacy” Isn’t Changing Much—Not Yet

Quantum computing was suggested by physicist Richard Feynman in 1982; the supremacy battles are quite recent

In last week’s podcast, “Enrique Blair on quantum computing,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks talks with fellow computer engineer Enrique Blair about why quantum mechanics is so strange but important to our future. One thing they discussed was Google’s claim to quantum supremacy. What does it mean? Does it matter? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-110-Enrique-Blair.mp3 The discussion of quantum supremacy begins at approximately 47:55. The Show Notes and transcript follow. Excerpts from the transcript: Robert J. Marks (pictured): Google recently announced they had achieved quantum supremacy. What is quantum supremacy, and how does that relate to the quantum computer and the other computers that we use today? Enrique Blair: It’s a pretty interesting buzzword. Maybe the first thing to mention is what…

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Question Signs

Information Is the Currency of Life. But What IS It?

How do we understand information in a universe that resists resolution into one single, simple system?

At first, “What is information?” seems like a question with a simple answer. Stuff we need to know. Then, if we think about it, it dissolves into paradoxes. A storage medium—a backup drive, maybe—that contains vital information weighs exactly the same as one that contains nothing, gibberish, or dangerously outdated information. There is no way we can know without engaging intelligently with the content. That content is measured in bits and bytes, not kilograms and joules—which means that it is hard to relate to other quantities in our universe. In this week’s podcast, “Robert J. Marks on information and AI, Part 1.” neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviews Walter Bradley Center director and computer engineering prof Robert J. Marks on how we…

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quantum computer

How Quantum Computing Can and Can’t Help Us Here in Macro World

Quantum computing could easily break down current encryption schemes

In last week’s podcast, “Enrique Blair on quantum computing,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks talks with fellow computer engineer Enrique Blair about why quantum mechanics is so strange, yet an intrinsic part of the way our universe works. They discussed whether quantum computing will be in our future any time soon? In our cell phones? What difference will it make? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-110-Enrique-Blair.mp3 The discussion of quantum computing begins at approximately 37:31. The Show Notes and transcript follow. Excerpts from the transcript: One significant thing that quantum computing could do is enable more secure encryption. Robert J. Marks: Let’s get to quantum computing. This is the thing that’s in the news everywhere. There was the announcement that Google has built…

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Colorful quantum world fractal

“Spooky Action at a Distance” Makes Sense—in the Quantum World

Einstein never liked quantum mechanics but each transistor in your cell phone is a quantum device

In last week’s podcast, “Enrique Blair on quantum computing,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks talks with fellow computer engineer Enrique Blair about why quantum mechanics is so strange. The discussion turned to why Albert Einstein, a brilliant but orderly mathematical thinker, did not really like quantum mechanics at all and what we should learn from that: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-110-Enrique-Blair.mp3 The discussion of Einstein and “spooky action at a distance” (his way of describing quantum particles’ behavior) starts at approximately 27:45. The Show Notes and transcript follow. Excerpts from the transcript: Robert J. Marks: Albert Einstein didn’t like quantum mechanics or certain aspects of quantum mechanics. Dd he die thinking that quantum mechanics was a fluke? Enrique Blair (pictured): That’s an…

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Laboratory mice in the experiment test. Blue filter.

Has Neuroscience “Proved” That the Mind Is Just the Brain?

This is hardly the first time that bizarre claims have been made for minimal findings. In neuroscience, materialism is the answer only if you don’t understand the questions.

Last month, materialist neurologist Steven Novella made a rather astonishing claim in a post at his Neurologica blog: A recent open-access study of learning and decision-making in mice shows that the human mind is merely what the human brain does. That’s a lot for mice to prove. In the study, the mice were trained to choose holes from which food is provided. Their brain activity was measured as they learned and decided which holes were best. The research looks specifically at quick and intuitive decision-making vs. decision-making that is slower and involves analysis of the situation. The investigators found that analysis-based decisions in the mice involve brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, which is a region of the brain…

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Blue glowing quantum laser in space with rippled beam

The Final Ambiguous Truth About Schrödinger’s Cat

Schrödinger came up with the cat illustration to explain quantum mechanics to interested people who were not physicists

In last week’s podcast, “Enrique Blair on quantum computing,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks talks with fellow computer engineer Enrique Blair about why quantum mechanics is so strange. Inevitably, the discussion turned to what really happened with Schrödinger’s cat, the one who is either dead or alive only if we actually look at it. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-110-Enrique-Blair.mp3 [Schrödinger’s cat starts approximately at 21:50.] The Show Notes and transcript follow. Excerpts from the transcript: Robert J. Marks (pictured): We hear a lot in popular culture about Schrödinger’s cat. Now, Erwin Schrödinger (1887–1961) was one of the guys who formulated quantum mechanics. He won a Nobel Prize for it. He was trying to explain quantum mechanics to a layperson and he used…

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high risk cholesterol test results

Can an 18th Century Statistician Help Us Think More Clearly?

Distinguishing between types of probability can help us worry less and do more

Thomas Bayes (1702–1761) (pictured), a statistician and clergyman, developed a theory of decision-making which was only discussed after his death and only became important in the 20th century. It is now a significant topic in philosophy, in the form of Bayesian epistemology. Understanding Bayes’ Rule may be essential to making good decisions. Let’s say that you are a generally healthy person and have no symptoms of any illness and no specific risk factors for any illness. Acting on a friend’s suggestion, you get screened for a variety of diseases, just to be sure. Of the diseases you test for, the HIV test comes back positive. You read on the package that the test is 99.6% accurate. Are you more likely…