Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

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Plasma Ball

Researchers Identify a New Form of Brain Communication

Mouse studies find brain waves that can bypass synapses and gaps, even communicate with severed nerves

Such surprising new findings show that comparisons between a human brain and a computer greatly underestimate the complexity of the brain.

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Cardboard boxes from Brouhaha brewery waiting to be shipped

Amazon pulls out of the New York City deal

Is this a message about the new economy in America?

Jay Richards thinks that crony capitalism is a long-term problem but that, in this case, New York legislators showed “staggering economic illiteracy and a disregard for their constituents”

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How Can Mere Products of Nature Have Free Will?

Materialists don’t like the outcome of their philosophy but twisting logic won’t change it

Although most compatibilists have a more or less materialist view of nature, they find it impossible to shake the conviction that free will is real.

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Still from the movie Alita, Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel: A Mind Matters Review

If you love anime and felt betrayed by the flop of Ghost, I would highly recommend Alita

Although it doesn’t strictly feature AI, Alita invites us to ponder what it means to be human. Are we defined by a human brain? Or are there aspects of being human that are not solely associated with the brain?

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Very humanlike android

A Closer Look at Detroit: Become Human, Part I

Gaming culture provides a window into our culture’s assumptions about artificial intelligence

In the game, Detroit has transcended its current economic despair, emerging as the epicenter of the android revolution. Cyberlife, headquartered there, has become the first company to engineer and produce fully autonomous, general purpose AI androids for consumers.

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Conceptual illustration of neuron cells with glowing link knots in abstract dark space, high resolution 3D illustration

Even the axons in our nerve cells are “smart PCs”

Your brain is not a computer, it is billions of them

Contrary to expectations, researchers say, far-flung regions (thousands of cell body widths from their nucleus) can even make independent decisions.

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Missile explosion

Why we can’t just ban killer robots

Should we develop them for military use? The answer isn’t pretty. It is yes.

Autonomous AI weapons are potentially within the reach of terrorists, madmen, and hostile regimes like Iran and North Korea. As with nuclear warheads, we need autonomous AI to counteract possible enemy deployment while avoiding its use ourselves.

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Woman's hands typing on a pastel pink keyboard of retro laptop. Work and technology.

Could Your Computer Be Transgender?

A shift in basic philosophy can account for the new dogma that biological sex is a matter of culture and choice
Nominalism is a philosophical dead end that does not reflect underlying reality. But it has permeated our culture. We are told that there are no categories; everything is infinitely plastic. Read More ›
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Stripes on two lane highway

Can We Program Morality into a Self-Driving Car?

A software engineering professor tells us why that’s not a realistic goal

Any discussion of the morality of the self-driving car should touch on the fact that the industry as a whole thrives on hype that skirts honesty.

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STEM EDUCATION 3. Killing People and Breaking Things

Modern history suggests that military superiority driven by technology can be a key factor in deterring aggression and preventing mass fatalities
Today, better AI is the goal of the arms race. Russian President Vladimir Putin has prophesied: “Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere [AI] will become the ruler of the world.” Putin’s remarks apply to both economic and military dominance. Read More ›
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Toy Robot looking at itself in mirror

That Robot Is Not Self-Aware

The way the media cover AI, you'd almost think they had invented being hopelessly naïve
If this is how The Telegraph reports on a robotic arm, can you imagine what it will sound like when we get humanoid robots who seem to carry on conversations? We had best inoculate ourselves now against AI hype from science reporters while most of us still have enough self-awareness to realize what’s going on. Read More ›
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Close up of colorful silicon wafers

The Idol with Feet of Silicon

Religions based on artificial intelligence (AI) cannot transcend the limits of computers

Those proclaiming that exclusive truth lives totally in naturalism are constrained to a sadly narrow view of the world. Some naturalists have put their faith in AI and have founded the AI Church. They may think they are doing something new and cutting edge, but as Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun (1:9).

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Bronzed person wearing virtual reality glasses

AI as an Emergent Religion

Science philosopher Mike Keas’s new book discusses how AI and ET are merging, to create a religion of futurist magic
Many Singulatarians hold that their soon-to-be-realized technology will be indistinguishable by the rest of us from magic.   Are they serious? Well, in 2005, Kurzweil said that the magical Harry Potter stories “are not unreasonable visions of our world as it will exist only a few decades from now.” when, due to AI, “the entire universe will become saturated with our intelligence.”  Keas warns that this type of thing encourages people “to expect the experiential equivalent of occult phenomena.” Read More ›
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Artificial Intelligence Is Actually Superficial Intelligence

The confusing ways the word “intelligence” is used belie the differences between human intelligence and machine sophistication

Words often have more meaning than we hear at first. Consider colors. We associate green with verdant, healthy life and red with prohibition and danger. But these inferences are not embedded in the basic meaning of “red” or “green.” They are cultural accretions we attach to words that enable the richness of language. That, by the way, is one reason why legal documents and technical papers are so difficult to read. The terms used are stripped clean of such baggage, requiring additional words to fill the gaps. The word “intelligent” is like that. Saying that a computer, or a program, is intelligent can lead us down a rabbit hole of extra meaning. An honest researcher merely means the computer has Read More ›

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Machinist working a loom

Remember the Luddites!

The Luddites became famous for breaking machinery during the Industrial Revolution. Were they entirely wrong?
People often think that the Luddites were merely anti-technology because they opposed automation during the Industrial Revolution (1760–1840). The story is more complex. As we face increasing automation today, we might want to see what we can learn from their history. Read More ›
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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 ›