Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagFeatured

time-concept-hi-res-digitally-generated-image-stockpack-adobe-stock
Time concept. Hi-res digitally generated image.

The Orville, Season 3, Shows Its Authoritarian Side

This time travel episode is distinctly authoritarian in a way I’ve never seen before

Last time, we discussed how The Orville, Season 3, Episode 6, crossed into some truly disturbing territory, not just by showing a terrible event, but in a very subtle and manipulative way, advocating for it. This week, we’re going into the details. To recap, the Union sent the Orville to drop off a time travel device at a lab because they were worried that the Kaylon or Krill might try to use it to wipe out the Union in the distant past, something they consider a horrible crime. We discussed how the writers ignored a gigantic plot hole in order to contrive a tragedy for Gordon, who was sent into the past as a result of this attack. The Orville Read More ›

man-in-gas-mask-is-showing-an-ok-gesture-by-his-hand-close-up-on-gray-background-stockpack-adobe-stock
Man in gas mask is showing an Ok gesture by his hand close up on gray background.

China: Massive Protests at Cell Phone Plant Continue

One accusation against Apple is that it has consistently failed to live up to its responsibilities as a global leader at the top of the supply chain.

At the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou where thousands of employees walked out on October 29, protests broke out on November 23. They were led by new hires staying on a campus dormitory after they learned that they would have to work an additional two months at lower pay before they receive their promised bonuses for coming to Foxconn to cover for the October exodus. Additionally, workers complained of inadequate food and fear of Covid exposure. Workers were offered 25,000 yuan (US$3,500) for two months of work, a 50% increase on the posted maximum wage. When they learned of changes in their agreement, employees at the dorm responded by pulling down outdoor tents (for Covid testing) and destroying a surveillance camera. Read More ›

time-concept-hi-res-digitally-generated-image-stockpack-adobe-stock
Time concept. Hi-res digitally generated image.

The Orville: The Moral Conundrums of Time Travel, Part 1

What if killing a person’s past wipes out a whole family?

The last two episodes I’ve discussed of Orville, Season 3, have delved into popular political issues that allowed the writers’ bias to damage the plot. This episode, Part 6, does something worse. It may not seem like a big deal, at first. But let me explain why this episode is terrible from a standpoint that goes beyond the writing. Yes, the writing is bad but that’s par for the course with this show. However, it’s one thing to prattle on about political issues that are in vogue. But it’s another matter entirely to murder a family, and defend the decision, and in so doing, try to establish a set of priorities that are, to say the least, unwholesome. Writers describe Read More ›

mouse-cursor-clicking-captcha-im-not-robot-checkbox-stockpack-adobe-stock
Mouse Cursor Clicking CAPTCHA

CAPTCHA: How Fooling Machines Is Different From Fooling Humans

Automated censorship is intended to protect against a tidal wave of spam but it could certainly have other uses…

Readers of Mind Matters News have likely heard of the iconic Turing test. Computer pioneer Alan Turing famously invented a test to determine whether a program could pass as a human. The gist is, if a program can fool human testers into believing it is a human, then the program is intelligent. Not everyone is convinced. Thing is, it doesn’t take much to fool us humans! Take Eliza , a program of only a few hundred lines, written in the 60s, which fooled many people into believing it was a real human therapist. But what if we flip the Turing test on its head? Instead of a test where a program tries to pass as human, we use a test Read More ›

scared-young-girl-in-mask-coronavirus-panic-stockpack-adobe-stock
Scared young girl in mask, coronavirus panic

China’s Foxconn Walkout: How Fear Messaging Can Backfire

Workers were caught in a conflict between unrealistic COVID Zero messaging from the government and seasonal performance demands from the employer

Around this time of year, the factories that produce Apple’s iPhones hire thousands of additional workers to meet the demand for the holiday season. While Apple is an American company and the electronics are designed in-house, the manufacturing is done overseas where labor costs are cheaper. One of the largest manufacturers for Apple’s iPhone products is Hon Hai Technology Group, better known as Foxconn, a Taiwan-based company with factories in several countries, including mainland China. One of its largest facilities is in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province — dubbed “iPhone City” by the locals. Thus the Zhengzhou Foxconn factory was slated to make 80% of the iPhone 14 models and 85% of the iPhone Pro models before the end Read More ›

businessman-holding-investment-finance-chart-stock-market-business-concept-and-exchange-financial-growth-graphinvesting-in-the-stock-market-of-cryptocurrencies-stockpack-adobe-stock
Businessman holding investment finance chart, stock market business concept, and exchange, financial growth graph,Investing in the stock market of cryptocurrencies

Understanding the Fall of FTX — the False Reality of Market Caps

Let’s have a look at the critical question that was never asked in the first place…

In finance, the “market capitalization” or “market cap” of a security or currency is a simple way to evaluate the overall “value” of the total entity (this is also called “network value” in terms of a cryptocurrency). It is easiest to think about market caps in terms of stocks instead of currencies. In the stock market, if ABC Company is broken up into 100,000 shares, and the going market price is $3 per share, then the market cap of ABC is $300,000. Likewise for coins, if there are 100,000 coins available, and the current market price of the coin is $7, then the market cap of the coin will be $700,000. The idea behind the market cap is that, if Read More ›

beautiful-little-girl-on-nature-with-flowers-stockpack-adobe-stock
Beautiful little girl on nature with flowers

Orville Episode 5: Bad Allegory — But Competent Writing

Competent writing is some compensation for an otherwise tedious exposition of transgender ideology

Last time, we began discussing The Orville, Season Three, Episode 5, A Tale of Two Topas. I mentioned that the episode was an allegory for children undergoing gender reassignment surgery. I suspected that they were affirming this practice because of the political nomenclature they used. However, it’s possible they weren’t. The fact that Topa was transitioned from a female to a male as an infant and now wishes to return to her original state suggests the very opposite of what the transgender movement claims. In this article, I shall discuss the subsequent plot and let the reader decide. I want to start out by saying the writing of this episode is far superior to the preceding ones. I hesitate to Read More ›

evil-robot-glowing-lights-shiny-metalic-parts-stockpack-adobe-stock
Evil robot, glowing lights, shiny metalic parts

So, Can a Computer Really Be Irrational?

Computer prof Robert J. Marks tells Wesley J. Smith: No, and here’s why … from his experience

In a recent episode at Mind Matters News podcasting, “Can a computer be a person?” (November 10, 2022), Robert J. Marks and Wesley J. Smith discussed that in connection with Marks’s new book, Non-Computable You: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/11/Mind-Matters-212-Robert-Marks.mp3 Some excerpts: Wesley J. Smith: Let me ask the question in a different way. Can an AI ever be irrational? Robert J. Marks: Yes. Irrational in the sense of being irrational from the point of an observer. A classic example, and this happened a number of years ago, was that the Soviets during the Cold War developed a high technology to decide whether the US was being attacked by… I’m sorry, whether the Soviet Union was being attacked by the United States. And so Read More ›

bitcoin-cryptocurrency-virtual-money-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock
Bitcoin cryptocurrency, virtual money concept

Has the Bitcoin Supply of Greater Fools Finally Been Exhausted?

It’s a bubble fueled by babble

The Declaration of Bitcoin’s Independence, endorsed by numerous celebrities, states that, We hold these truths to be self-evident. We have been cyclically betrayed, lied to, stolen from, extorted from, taxed, monopolized, spied on, inspected, assessed, authorized, registered, deceived, and reformed. We have been economically disarmed, disabled, held hostage, impoverished, enervated, exhausted, and enslaved. And then there was bitcoin. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are, in reality, not useful alternatives to cash, checking accounts, debit cards, credit cards, and the other components of the financial system that powers the economies of developed countries. Blockchain technology is slow, expensive, and environmentally unfriendly. In 2021, Cambridge University researchers estimated that bitcoin blockchains consume as much electricity as the entire country of Argentina, with only Read More ›

COSM2022-Wed-174A9593-blockchain-panel-robinson

Could Crypto Be a Safe National Currency?

At COSM a panel of experts debated the future of crypto

A panel moderated by blockchain expert Sam Yilmaz COO of Bloccelerate last week at COSM debated whether cryptocurrency could be a national currency. It’s a risk but then many current currencies are. From Wyatt Robinson — Principal Corporate Counsel, Microsoft: The whole premise behind blockchain as I understand it from my view as a former financial services attorney, is really to promote efficiency free up capital allow more money to be out there for end users to have in their pockets. And so when we think about what should we put on chain, what activities should be going on chain at the end of the day, think about the stakeholders, the users who are involved in that transaction or are Read More ›

engineers-gloved-hand-is-holding-the-cpu-chip-on-the-background-of-the-motherboard-high-tech-hardware-microelectronics-stockpack-adobe-stock
Engineer's gloved hand is holding the CPU chip on the background of the motherboard. High-tech hardware microelectronics

Big Innovations Can Depend on Really Little Things

Stuff that is far too small to see can change the world

The opening panel on Thursday morning at COSM 2022 was “The New Nanocosm.” — the world of really small things like molecules. The first panelist to speak was Chris Harrison, CEO of CTEC (“Clean Thermodynamic Energy Conversion”) Energy, a British company which seeks to convert industrial waste into energy. Its basic premise is that there is “an incredible amount of excess heat that was coming off engines and going into the atmosphere,” and this heat could be converted into usable work. The company takes waste materials — Harrison cited municipal solid waste, medical waste, chemical waste, hazardous waste — and uses it to generate electricity. The remaining waste can also be re-purposed. The conversion process yields a “fine ash” which Read More ›

summer-meadow-blow-balls-landscape-painting-stockpack-adobe-stock
Summer meadow blow balls landscape painting

Could AI ever pass the Van Gogh test?

Van Gogh was crazy but he was talented and AI can be neither

The Van Gogh Test for sheer creativity? Thursday night at COSM presented a live, in-person interview with Federico Faggin, the Italian physicist and computer engineer who co-won the prestigious Kyoto prize in 1997 for helping develop the Intel 4004 chip. Faggin was interviewed by technology reporter Maria Teresa Cometto, who asked him to regale the audience with tales about helping to design early microchips. Eventually Faggin recounted a time when he was “studying neuroscience and biology, trying to understand how the brain works,” and came upon a startling realization: And at one point I asked myself, “But wait a second, I mean these books, all this talk about electrical signals, biochemical signals, but when I taste some chocolate, I mean Read More ›

wheat-field-ears-of-golden-wheat-closeup-harvest-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock
Wheat field. Ears of golden wheat closeup. Harvest concept

Pesticides Bad, organics good! But how do we know it’s true?

Thinking that pesticides are bad and organic is good is thinking is ingrained into our common wisdom. Few question it

Josh Gilder, who worked with the State Department and was a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan (1911–2004 ), opened by quoting the 16th century Swiss alchemist Paracelsus, who reportedly said “The dose makes the poison.” For example, a very small amount of arsenic will have “no detectable physiological effect on you whatsoever,” whereas drinking too much water can kill you. (Recall the woman who tragically died in the “Hold your Wee for a Wii” contest.) The body produces electricity but “you get hit by a lightning bolt, you’re dead,” Gilder explained. These and innumerable other examples confirm the wisdom of Paracelsus.The relevance for us today, Gilder explained, is that many chemicals that are regulated or even banned — due to their Read More ›

COSM2022-Nov10-174A0052-ai-panel
Panel on AI at COSM 2022

Experts at COSM Debate Whether Chatbot was Sentient

Turned out quite pleasant. Google fired him in 2022 - but what really happened there?

Last Thursday morning at COSM, a panel of experts debated whether truly sentient artificial intelligence (AI) could potentially exist — and even whether it already does. Robert J. Marks, distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering at Baylor University, opened by criticizing the Turing test, as a measure of whether we’ve produced genuine AI. Developed by the famous English mathematician and World War II codebreaker Alan Turing, the test holds that if we can’t distinguish a machine’s conversational discourse from that of a real human, then it must exhibit humanlike intelligence. Marks maintains that this is the wrong test for detecting true AI. In his view, the Turing test fails because it “looks at a book and tries to judge Read More ›

COSM2022-Nov10-174A0722-medicine-panel-backstage

Is Information the Future of Medicine and Biology?

University of Washington’s Georg Seelig wants to “design molecules” and “write genetic information”

At a Thursday afternoon panel at COSM 2022, pioneers in biology had a chance to talk to the public about the code that is written into our genomes. First up was Georg Seelig, a Swiss synthetic biologist and researcher at the Paul Allen School of Computer Science at the University of Washington (UW). He described his bioengineering research as aiming to learn “to read and write the language of the genome,” which is a “sort of a code” written in a “language.” Popular wisdom might hold that we have fully deciphered this language — and Seelig acknowledges that “over the last few decades, we’ve really learned a lot about the syntax of this language.” But he explains there’s still much Read More ›

young-couple-with-eyeglasses-pose-outdoors-stockpack-adobe-stock
Young couple with eyeglasses pose outdoors

Orville Episode 5 Is an Allegory Done Right… Accidentally

I’ll say this for Episode 5 of The Orville Season Three: Regardless of my personal opinions about the show’s message, structurally speaking, this was the most solid story so far. Previous episodes have been plagued by random scenes that don’t seem to correlate with each other and pretentious diatribes that would surely turn off a viewer who did not agree with the writer’s opinions to begin with. In this episode, I felt like I was dealing with a writer who, at least, knew what he or she was doing. And the amazing thing about this is that the higher quality in the writing raised the quality of the actors’ performances as well. Cast members who were stale and boring through Read More ›

COSM2022-Wed-174A9344-Peter-Thiel-George-Gilder

Peter Thiel’s Take on What Has Really Happened With AI

The trouble is, who is AI really benefiting?

Peter Thiel is a classic in people you should know about but possibly don’t. He helped get PayPal and LinkedIn started and he tries to think about where new tech is taking us. He spoke at COSM 2022 on that topic and he mentions a book that should set us thinking: The high-level question I want to ask today is, basically, how should we think about AI? Should we think of it as intelligent, conscious, or merely evil? The book that I think is interesting is that of Wang Huning, who’s the number four guy in the entire communist government [of China]. He’s sort of the professor and theorist of Xi Jinping thought. And he wrote this book [about his Read More ›

data points over map
futuristic earth map technology abstract background

So After Big Tech’s Play Worlds Are Played Out… Where Are We?

Computer technician Erik J. Larson asks, What have we learned that will help us?

Computer scientist and entrepreneur Erik J. Larson, author of The Myth of Artificial Intelligence: Why Computers Can’t Think the Way We Do (2021), asks us to look at life in the aftermath of the big new world that computers are supposed to create: But the “bureau of statistics” mindset is now a problem. It dominates thinking everywhere, not just in technology businesses aiming for sticky ads and more captive users. Nearly every institution one can point to today, from government to science, media, medicine, insurance, and many others, embraces a centralized, data-capture model requiring massive computing resources and actively downplaying human ingenuity in favor of number crunching and prediction. More troubling perhaps, is the way this has shaped the zeitgeist. Read More ›

COSM2022-Wed-174A9297-Peter-Thiel
Peter Thiel via videoconference at COSM 2022

Peter Thiel: The Multiverse Is a “Gateway Drug”

It’s a gateway drug to other crazy ideas, like the belief we live in a simulation

BELLEVUE, WA — Speaking to tech leaders and investors at COSM 2022 in the Seattle area, entrepreneur Peter Thiel provocatively asked “why do so many people in Silicon Valley believe in the simulation hypothesis that the entire universe, the cosmos, is just a computer simulation? Why do they believe something as crazy as this?” Actually, noted Thiel, the belief that our world is a simulation has now faded somewhat: I think probably the peak belief in the simulation hypothesis was maybe something like a decade ago, maybe circa 2012 to 2015, and it has probably faded some. We’ll still have Gen Z people say that things are a glitch in the simulation or there’s still some sort of passive reference Read More ›

baseball-stockpack-adobe-stock
Baseball

This Time, Houston Was Blessed More by Luck Than by Stolen Signs

The victory parade over, let’s look at whether luck had more to do with the Astros’ success than Astro fans want to admit

The Houston Astros are the 2022 Major League Baseball (MLB) World Champion — this time, as far as we know, without relying on electronically stolen pitching signs sent to batters by banging trashcan lids or using buzzers hidden under uniforms. Now that the champagne has popped and the victory parade has been held, let’s consider the fact that maybe, just maybe, luck had more to do with the Astros’ success than Astro fans want to admit. Athletes and fans want to believe that the team that wins the World Series, Super Bowl, or any other championship is the best team that year. The reality is that in every sport — some more than others — outcomes are influenced by good Read More ›