Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

TagFeatured

Composite image of image of data
Composite image of image of data

Part 1: Navigating the Machine Learning Landscape

To choose the right type of machine learning model for your project, you need to answer a few specific questions
Most machine learning systems fall into three main categories—supervised learning, unsupervised learning, and reinforcement learning. The choice of system depends first on which category of machine learning best addresses your situation. Read More ›
Gemini_Mission_Control_-_GPN-2000-001405
Mission Control Center (MCC), Houston, Texas, during the Gemini 5 flight.

STEM EDUCATION 1. Pursuing Nerd Quality Over Nerd Quantity

Reducing math and science to practice is what engineers do. Scientists didn’t put a man on the moon. Engineers did.
Overall, computer applications will impact our society and culture as much as electricity did. And we’re living smack in the middle of the transformation. Read More ›
jaroslav-devia-715052-unsplash
Hoodie with smoke in front of face

Has Science Shown That Consciousness Is Only an Illusion?

Using clever analogies, Philosopher Daniel Dennett argues that consciousness is all smoke and mirrors
British philosopher Papineau recommends taking Dennett’s theories “with a pinch of salt.” American essayist David Bentley Hart is less charitable: “Daniel Dennett’s latest book marks five decades of majestic failure to explain consciousness” Read More ›
sam-beasley-500154-unsplash
Market with hundreds of stalls from above

Will the Free Market Help or Hurt Us in an AI-Empowered World?

We may need new institutions, such as insurance against job obsolescence
If humans are free to experiment with new institutions, I believe we will find an excellent solution. However, there is a great danger that those who benefit from the status quo will use their influence to prevent the adoption of new institutions. Read More ›
jon-tyson-762647-unsplash-altered
A pile of photographic memories with a pancake photo

How Can Consciousness Be a Material Thing?

Maybe it can’t. But materialist philosophers face starkly limited choices in how to view consciousness
In analytical philosopher Galen Strawson’s opinion, our childhood memories of pancakes on Saturday, for example, are—and must be—"wholly physical." Read More ›
nettoyage de graffiti
Worker in blue uniform cleaning graffiti

Facebook’s Secret Censorship Rules Expose a Key Problem

Most moderators are not skilled and have only a few seconds to decide on a post
Censorship is part of the larger question of whether social media are the telephone company (a communications platform), the newspaper (a publisher), or unregulated private klatsches. Or something else altogether? Read More ›
john-baker-349282-unsplash
Neon sign saying

Your Phone Knows Everything Now

And in a world where no data is anonymous, yours may be sold to the highest bidder
Your location can be a useful guide to your buying habits, whether or not you want to buy anything or think anyone has any business snooping on you to find out. Read More ›
rawpixel-780496-unsplash

Research Showing That Fake News Easily Fools Us Collapses

A recent paper claiming that low-quality news (“fake news”) spreads as quickly on social media as accurate news has been retracted by its authors.
A team from the Shanghai Institute of Technology sought to study whether accuracy made any difference to whether a post goes viral on social media. They cited a concern about “the digital misinformation that threatens our democracy.” Read More ›
Minnesota State Fair

It’s 2019: Begin the AI Hype Cycle Again!

Media seemingly can’t help portraying today’s high-tech world as a remake of I, Robot (2004), starring you and me.
I have a problem with the possible outcomes when people who don’t know the difference between technology fact and fiction make important decisions based on information from journalists who write as if every computer is a potential personality like HAL from Space Odyssey 2001. Read More ›
nathan-dumlao-741942-unsplash

AI: Think About Ethics Before Trouble Arises

A machine learning specialist reflects on Micah 6:8 as a guide to developing ethics for the rapidly growing profession
To love mercy sometimes means to give up efficiency. It could mean losing a few points of model accuracy by refusing to take into account features that invade privacy or are proxies for race, leading to discriminatory model behavior. But that’s OK. The merciful are willing to give up some of their rights and advantages so they can help others.   Read More ›
franki-chamaki-694946-unsplash
Fluorescent sign saying

Will artificial intelligence design artificial super-intelligence?

And then turn us all into super-geniuses, as some AI researchers hope? No, and here's why not
Because Moore's law is an exponential law, the numbers multiply rapidly and we could hit the physical limit rather suddenly. Current indications are that Moore’s law’s speed has already slowed or even ceased to be a true description of the IT industry today. Read More ›
Children using computer in school

Can an Algorithm Be Racist?

No, the machine has no opinion. It processes vast tracts of data. And, as a result, the troubling hidden roots of some data are exposed
It’s tempting to assume that a villain lurks behind such a scene when the exact opposite is the problem: A system dominated by machines is all calculations, not thoughts, intentions, or choices. If the input is wrong, so is the output. Read More ›
chang-qing-219688-unsplash

How Can Information Theory Help the Economy Grow?

New information is the true source of new wealth; everyone wins when we learn how to produce it more efficiently
What gives humans the ability to increase in prosperity, according to Eric Holloway, is our ability to “read” from Plato’s Library of new ideas, thus providing an ever-growing supply of side information that powers the economy. Read More ›
Abstract Looking Into a Kaleidoscope Background Geometric Shapes
Abstract Looking Into a Kaleidoscope Background Geometric Shapes

In One Sense, Consciousness IS an Illusion…

We have no knowledge of the processes of our consciousness, only of the objects of its attention, whether they are physical, emotional, or abstract
When we think, we think about reality, not about the neurological processes by which we connect to reality. It is by keeping this understanding clearly in mind that we escape the solipsism that bedevils modern neuroscience. Read More ›
toothpicks
Colorful toothpicks or pick-up sticks

How Can We Measure Meaningful Information?

Neither randomness nor order alone creates meaning. So how can we identify communications?
Dropping a handful of toothpicks on the table seems to produce a different sort of pattern than spelling out a word with toothpicks. Surprisingly, this intuitive distinction is harder to make in math and the sciences. Algorithmic specified complexity (ASC) enables us to distinguish them. Read More ›
webvilla-293-unsplash

Is Salad Murder?

A Darwinian biologist wrestles with the significance of plant intelligence

If plants can sense things and communicate with each other, even though they lack a mind or brain, should they have rights? In an age of sometimes violent animal rights activism, that’s not an idle question. Plant physiologist Ulrich Kutschera, author of Physiology of Plants. Sensible Vegetation in Action (January 2019, German), talked about it in a recent interview: This is a serious issue which is related to plant intelligence. In April 2009, the Swiss Parliament discussed the topic of “plant ethics” and proposed to attribute to plants a kind of “Würde”, which can be translated as “dignity” (3). As a consequence, some radical plant ethics-activists have distributed T-shirts and other propaganda material with the slogan “Salad is murder”. Despite Read More ›

djim-loic-69263-unsplash
Timer attached to steel device

Be Choosy About What You Automate!

Having automated many processes, I can assure you that that is the First Rule of Automation
The worst trap that people who are pursuing automation fall into is the desire to automate everything. That’s usually a road to disaster. Automation is supposed to save time and money, but it can wind up costing you both if you don't carefully consider what you automate. Read More ›
m-b-m-795202-unsplash
Data graph on monitor showing correlation

Study Shows Eating Raisins Causes Plantar Warts

Sure. Because, if you torture a Big Data enough, it will confess to anything
Enormous data sets compiled by Big Data methods have a higher probability of meaningless correlations than smaller ones compiled by traditional methods. More than ever, common sense is needed. And common sense only comes from programmers writing their own common sense into the software. Read More ›
rawpixel-651335-unsplash

How is Human Language Different from Animal Signals?

What do we need from language that we cannot get from signals alone?
Language, which is the rule-based use of abstract designators, is essential for abstract thought because only designators can point to things that have no concrete physical existence. Only human beings think abstractly, and language is what makes abstract thought possible. Read More ›
jack-b-1197584-unsplash
Light in bokeh effect

Quantum Randomness Gives Nature Free Will

Whether or not quantum randomness explains how our brains work, it may help us create unbreakable encryption codes

When I was boy, my father explained free will and predestination to me: I dig a fence post hole. · Did I create the hole because of my own free will? · Or was the hole already there and I simply removed the dirt? If true, the hole was predestined. The question cannot be answered by examining the evidence. In philosophy terms, it is “empirically unanswerable.” That is the sort of stuff that philosophers debate. Religious people might point to scripture to support one conclusion over the other.1 In physics, however, quantum randomness offers a definitive answer to the question of predestination vs. free will—for subatomic particles. In the world of classical physics (Isaac Newton’s physics), it can be argued Read More ›