Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis


NFT non fungible tokenscrypto art on colorful abstract background. Pay for unique collectibles in games or art. 3d render of NFT crypto art collectibles concept

What Gives NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) Their Value?

But first, a tour through the seamier side of the internet, supported in large part by the very blockchain that mints NFTs

Here’s the second part of Episode 2 of the discussion between computer engineering prof Robert J. Marks and computer engineering grad students Adam Goad and Austin Egbert on the wild new online world of digital money, fan gear, contracts, and art. In the first part, Adam and Austin explained how digital collectibles — non-fungible tokens (NFTs) — work (or don’t). In this second part, What are NFTs?, they look at how people use them, with a sidestep into the swashbuckling world of crypto crime: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/08/Mind-Matters-199-Adam-Goad-Austin-Egbert.mp3 A partial transcript, notes, and Additional Resources follow. The discussion continued with the NBA’s use of NFTs as the new “trading cards.” How are NFTs like or unlike the iconic cards? Adam Goad: That one…

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robotic vacuum cleaner on laminate wood floor smart cleaning technology

Turns Out, Computers Are Not Vacuuming Up All Our Jobs

Far from it, we can hardly find all the people we need to manage the computers

Let’s start with radiologists: In 2016 Turing Award Winner Geoffrey Hinton advised that “We should stop training radiologists now. It’s just completely obvious that within five years, deep learning is going to do better than radiologists.” Six years later, the number of radiologists has gone up, not down. Researchers have spent billions of dollars working on thousands of radiology image-recognition algorithms that are not as good as human radiologists. Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith, “The right and wrong way to use artificial intelligence” at New York Daily News (August 6, 2022) Technology researcher Jeffrey Funk and business prof Gary Smith could — and probably will — fill a book with examples, some of which they list and link to at…

Crypto Virtual Museum and Metaverse internet NFT display as a futuristic streaming media symbol as augmented reality and computer media concept.

When You Buy a Non-Fungible Token (NFT), What Do You Own?

You are buying someone’s digital idea. Just what legal rights that NFT confers is an open question. But the NBA is now selling them…

In the first episode of the discussion between computer engineering prof Robert J. Marks and computer engineering grad students Adam Goad and Austin Egbert (here and here), the discussion started with the projected metaverse and slowly turned to the wild world of cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens — like Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet. What’s worth knowing about this burgeoning digital world? Here are Bob, Adam, and Austin again in Episode 2, What are NFTs?, Part 1: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/08/Mind-Matters-199-Adam-Goad-Austin-Egbert.mp3 This portion begins at 00:10. A partial transcript, notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: We have been talking to Adam Goad and Dr. Austin Egbert both at Baylor University about Web3. Web3, which uses distributed computing, is the tool that’s…

Close up of stock market trader looking at graph

Not All False Prophets Are Promoting Religions…

False finance prophets’ credentials or charisma are much more impressive than their track records — but we need a way to tell

Recently, our authors Jeffrey Lee Funk and Gary Smith alerted MarketWatch readers to the problem of “false prophets” in the investment world: We could write a long book about false prophets on Wall Street. What is interesting is how easily people are enchanted by charismatic personalities — some who peddle advice, some who run companies. A decade ago, for example, Yahoo tried to save itself by paying almost $1 billion to five charismatic CEOs (Terry Semel, Jerry Yang, Carol Bartz, Scott Thompson, and Marissa Mayer), four of them outsiders, who were hired over a five-year period and arguably did more harm than good. Jeffrey Lee Funk and Gary N. Smith, “Sensible stock investors put their money on a company’s real…

Glowing huge nebula with young stars. Space background

Has a Superintellect Monkeyed With Our Universe’s Physics?

Groundbreaking astronomer Fred Hoyle was a staunch atheist but then he tried showing that carbon, essential to life, could form easily. Steve Meyer explains.

In this second portion of a talk at the Dallas Conference on Science and Faith (2021), philosopher Steve Meyer discusses the ways in which groundbreaking astronomer Fred Hoyle (1915–2001) dealt with the fact that the universe seems fine-tuned for life. Hoyle’s widely cited comment on the subject was “A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.” That was an unsettling idea for Hoyle, who was a well-known atheist, and he certainly sought ways around it. How did he fare? Dr. Meyer, author of The Return of the God Hypothesis (Harper One, 2021), reflects on Hoyle’s struggle.…

First person perspective shot from a hiker sitting at the edge of a cliff at Angel's Landing in Zion National Park.

Multiverse of Madness Skirts the Edges of Story Collapse

Oh well, it IS a multiverse, so maybe, in this reality, all the heroes stink

Just as Wanda Maximoff is about to catch America Chavez, she is met by the Illuminati, a team of superheroes which comprises Captain Carter, Captain Marvel, Black Bolt, Reed Richards, Mordo, and Professor X. Mordo and Professor X are not present, but Wanda must still face four heroes at once. There is only phrase which can describe the ensuing scene and that is missed opportunity. To understand why, we must first look at two major factors at play. First, the actor chosen to play Reed Richards is none other than Jared Krasinski, who is famous for his roles in the TV series (2005–2013) The Office and the film A Quiet Place (2018). Now, anyone remotely familiar with comic book films…

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Why Breeding Smarter Humans Won’t Work: Basic Genetics 101

Biochemist Michael Denton explains that, in human genetics, everything is connected to everything else; geneticists call it pleiotropy

Recently, we looked at the question of whether human IQ could be artificially increased via genetic engineering. One proposal was to mass produce human embryos, implanting only the smart ones and discarding the rest. All other issues aside, it’s unclear how to determine which kids will turn out to be the smart ones. Now biochemist Michael Denton, author of a number of books including the recent Miracle of Man (2022), writes to tell us that the idea won’t work due to fundamental genetics. Noting that theoretical physicist Stephen Hsu, who advanced the idea of discarding embryos above, is not a medical geneticist, he told Mind Matters News, Its true there are many genes involved in brain development but most genes…

Information field around the Earth

Musk’s Starlink Tied to Traffic Chaos in Orbit and on Earth

If nothing else, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has brought public attention to the future of space, who it belongs to, and how it is paid for

This week has seen quite a struggle for Elon Musk’s SpaceX and its satellite-based internet service Starlink. SpaceX had recently pocketed some interesting wins for Starlink. Its offer to keep Ukrainians online in the midst of the recent crisis earned Starlink favor in the eyes of both the military and Eastern European nations. It has also started launching operations in Latin America. Just days ago SpaceX performed its 35th launch of the year, adding 52 more Starlink satellites. However, Starlink has also faced a number recent headwinds which could spell trouble for the service. While its public beta test performed well for many users, as the service has expanded, the capabilities of the network appear to be stretched. Despite promises…

Spanish jumping spider Saitis barbipes with fruit fly

Yes, Spiders Dream — But That Doesn’t Make Them Leggy People

We don’t know where on the tree of life “mind,” in the most basic sense, begins. It might include bacteria but not viruses

A recent research article from Germany, which has made quite a splash in the popular press, raises some very interesting questions about animal minds. Animal behaviorist Daniela C. Rößler and co-authors studied 34 young spiders while they slept and found that their eye movements seemed analogous to the eye movements of human beings and other higher animals that occur during REM sleep and are associated with dreaming. They pointed out that this seems to suggest that arachnids may have mental states and dreams that are more akin to those of human beings then previously thought. The article, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is open access. The research is fascinating in its own right but I…

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US Federal court rules: Machines do not “invent” things

Evidently, Stephen Thaler’s aim was to get the patent office to recognize that an AI system can invent things all by itself

Check out this headline from lawandcrime.com: Federal Appellate Court Rules AI Systems Cannot Be “Inventors” Because They Are Not Human. Notice the angle: framing a battle between machines and homo sapiens, pitting human intelligence against artificial intelligence. The article’s first sentence spotlights the center attraction, stating: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled Friday [Aug. 5, 2022] that artificial intelligence or “AI” systems cannot patent their inventions because they are not “natural people.” Here the Law and Crime article subtly inserts two key beliefs: (1) that AI systems can in fact invent things all by themselves; and (2) that AI systems physically can “patent their inventions.” The sentence thus implies that the human-centric court unfairly blocked them.…

Surreal 3d illustration of multiple faces in a wall. Concept of post-human and transhumanism ideas.

Epitaph for Transhumanism: But It’s Far From Dead!, Advocate Says

George Dvorsky embraced it as a religion but he sees public interest waning amid growing criticism of Big Tech’s side effects

Oxford University transhumanist Elise Bohan finds the benefits of transhumanism (leaving the human body behind for a genetically engineered and largely AI future) easy to list: Ageing cured. Death conquered. Work ended. The human brain reverse-engineered by AI. Babies born outside of the womb. Virtual children, non-human partners. The future of humanity could be virtually unrecognisable by the end of the 21st century, according to Elise Bohan – and that’s if we get the transition right. If we get it wrong, well. Celina Ribeiro, “Beyond our ‘ape-brained meat sacks’: can transhumanism save our species?” at The Guardian (June 4, 2022) Bohan, author of Future Superhuman: Our Transhuman Lives in a Make-or-Break Century (2022), is anxious to get on with new…

black metal spiral staircase in grayscale photography

How AI Neural Networks Show That the Mind Is Not the Brain

A series of simple diagrams shows that, while AI learns faster than the human brain, the human mind tackles problems that stump AI

Recently, I’ve been arguing (here and here, for example) that we can use artificial neural networks (ANNs) to prove that the mind is not the brain. To recap, here is the logic of my argument: Premise A: neural networks can learn better than the brainPremise B: the human mind can learn better than a neural networkConclusion: the human mind can learn better than the brain, therefore it is not the brain This means if we can conclusively show the human mind can learn better than a neural network, then the mind is not the brain. For Premise A, I’ve argued that the differentiable neural network is a superior learning model compared to the brain neuron’s “all or nothing principle”. The…

Sanger Sequencing. 3D illustration of a method of DNA sequencing.

If DNA Is a Language, Who Is the Speaker?

Philosopher Steve Meyer talks about the significance of Francis Crick’s sequence hypothesis that shows that DNA is literally a language of life

In a talk at the Dallas Conference on Science and Faith (2021), philosopher Steve Meyer looked at the question of whether a multiverse, as in Multiverse of Madness (2022), or God, as in many traditions is the origin of our universe. That is, is our universe designed — as considerable evidence suggests — or is ours just one of a few lucky universes whose extra-lucky conditions allow for advanced life? Dr. Meyer is the author of The Return of the God Hypothesis (Harper One, 2021) which argues that the evidence from science favors God over a multiverse. (Sample here.) In this first of four transcripts of the talk, he talks about how and why it matters to ordinary people which…

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Dr. Strange Finds a Universe Almost Like the One He Left…

But, like Schrödinger’s famous Cat, he is alive in one universe and dead in another

In the Multiverse of Madness, where were we? Ah yes, Dr. Strange and America Chavez finally find themselves in the multiverse. They teleport through several universes until they land in a reality similar to their own. The first thing Strange wants to do is return to their reality, so he can save Wong, who is still trapped in the temple. However, America reminds him that she cannot control her powers, so they decide to visit the Dr. Strange of this world to see if they can find a way to help America. When they arrive at Strange’s home, they discover that the Dr. Strange of this world is dead. A monument to the fallen hero says he died defeating Thanos.…

computer engineer working with laptop at cryptocurrency mining farm

What’s Really Happening With Bitcoin and Other Cryptos?

In the first part of this week’s podcast, “Web3: The next generation of the internet” (August 4, 2022), Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks talked with graduate student Adam Goad about Web3, the coming internet of more privacy on the one hand and a metaverse of avatars on the other. So, only as wild as you want it to be, maybe. Now, postdoc Austin Egbert joins the discussion as they continue with how, at worst, Web3 could be a bit like sci-fi film Ready Player One. (2018). Note: Re the metaverse, this week’s news reveals that Facebook executives are deserting Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse in droves: “ … recent retreats point to deeper turmoil inside Meta. Some suggest it lies…

Automotive Engineer Use Virtual Reality Headset for Virtual Electric Car 3D Model Design Analysis and Improvement. 3D Graphics Visualization Shows Fully Developed Vehicle Prototype Analysed Optimized

Why Don’t Some Tech Moguls Like Web3, the New Internet?

Web3 is a decentralized, less controlled version of the internet, as George Gilder predicted in Life After Google

In this week’s podcast, “Web3: The next generation of the internet” (August 4, 2022), Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviews graduate student Adam Goad and Dr. Austin Egbert, both in computer engineering at Baylor University, on the coming decentralization of the internet. With developments like the ones they discuss looming, Big Tech may be seeing a waistline trim. This is the Part I of the first of the three discussions. https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/08/Mind-Matters-198-Adam-Goad-Austin-Egbert.mp3 A partial transcript and Additional Resources follow. Dr. Marks began by discussing all the services he gets from Google, confessing that he has not needed to go to a library in over two decades. But… Robert J. Marks: Now, is Google just being nice in giving me…

3D illustration, embossed mesh representing internet connections, cloud computing and neural network.

Can Computer Neural Networks Learn Better Than Human Neurons?

They can and do; when artificial intelligence programmers stopped trying to copy the human neuron, they made much better progress

Neural networks are all the rage in computing these days. Many engineers think that, with enough computer power and fancy tweaks, they will become as smart as people. Recent successes playing games and predicting protein folds pour gasoline on the AI fire. We could be on the edge of the mystical Singularity, when humans and computers will merge and we become immortal gods. Or not. Let’s wind the clock back to the beginning of neural networks. In computer science terms, they are actually a very old technology. The earliest version, called a perceptron, (a single-layer neural network) was invented in the 1960s, inspired by McCulloch and Pitt’s early model of brain neurons. But, the perceptron was ignored for decades because…

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Mathematics Can Prove the Existence of God

Atheist biologist Jerry Coyne finds that difficult to believe but it’s really a matter of logic

In a recent post, atheist biologist Jerry Coyne takes issue with a commenter who asserts that God exists in the same sort of way mathematics exists. Here’s the analogy the commenter offered, as quoted by Coyne: Think of numbers for example, or mathematical equations, these are metaphysical things, that have not been created, however were discovered. The number 7 was the number 7 before anything at all came into existence. This is also true concerning the nature of God. He is not some material being that has come into existence, he is like a number that has always existed, (and by the way nobody will deny this logic with the number, however when someone mentions God a problem occurs). Jerry…


Marvel Universe: Being All Powerful, It Turns Out, Is Very Boring

The Mirror Dimension in Multiverse of Madness dispenses with sharp intellectual conflict, opting for unexplained power plays instead

Last time, we talked abut the absurdity of the way the conflict between Wanda Maximoff and Dr. Strange is set up. That’s the conflict which leads us to the attack on the ultimate fortress of the Sorcerer Supreme, Kamar-Taj. Considering what we’ve been told, the temple and its defenses are lackluster, to say the least. Wanda breaks through them with ease but there is a more fundamental problem with the struggle as a whole: The writers appear to lack a proper of the understanding of how the magical characters in the Marvel Universe operate. Marvel’s original genius in developing superheroes included giving every character different strengths and weaknesses. The game is somewhat like Rock–Paper–Scissors where Superhero A can beat Superhero…

Amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's disease

Trust in Science? Fraud Now Claimed re Key Alzheimer Paper

Autism and COVID-19 research have also been marred by misrepresentation, raising issues about what “trust in science” should mean

[This article is republished with permission from The Epoch Times (July 26, 2022) where it appeared under the title “Scientists Are Destroying Our Trust in Science.”] A just-published exposé in the journal Science claims that a seminal study on the causes of Alzheimer’s disease may contain falsified data. The 2006 report concluded that Alzheimer’s is caused by a buildup of a certain type of plaque in the brain—a finding that has guided research into cures for Alzheimer’s ever since. But now, critics claim that the original authors “appeared to have composed figures by piecing together parts of photos from different experiments” calling their conclusions into significant question. If true, this is a scientific scandal of the worst order. As the Science article…