Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis


Stock market diagram on LCD screen. Selective focus.

AI and Wall Street’s Hype Curve

Almost all new tech has a hype curve. Here are the stages.
Technologies that have surfed the hype curve include superconductivity, the Segway, cold fusion, information theory, Theranos, Piltdown man and string theory. Read More ›
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Online Training: Real Education or Going Through the Motions?

Not all online trainings are bad. But many are procedural and pointless.
In some cases, I was convinced that the goal of the training was to pretend to convey information while not actually doing so.  Read More ›
Robot's hand holds up a red heart aigenerated.

Will You Be My Valentine, Chatbot?

It is a tragedy indeed when our loneliness as a culture has developed so far that many people see chatbot companions as one of the only way forward.
Recent studies indicate that members of Gen Z are dividing politically according to sex, with men leaning more conservative and women going more liberal. Read More ›
NFL Superbowl stadium at night.American football .

Taylor Swift and the Looming Threat of Deepfakes

According to an attorney, Swift should probably go after the AI companies themselves if she decides to sue.

The country-turned-pop star Taylor Swift has commanded headlines for well over a year now with her record-breaking “Eras Tour” as well as her romance with Kansas City Chiefs tight-end Travis Kelce. Unfortunately, her image has also made the rounds in AI engines. Deepfake pornography is already an emerging problem, but its seriousness resurfaced when explicit, AI-generated images of Taylor Swift went viral in late January. Only ten states currently have laws prohibiting deepfake pornography, but legislation is underway to ban it in several others, including Swift’s home state, Tennessee. According to attorney Carrie Goldberg, if Swift were to sue anyone, it would probably have to be focused on the AI companies themselves. USA Today reports, It’s possible that the faked Read More ›

Man is using virtual reality headset. Image with glitch effect.

The Apple Vision Pro is Here

What exactly is the point of this new, painfully expensive piece of gadgetry?
Given what we've seen so far, it seems like this new release from one of the world's foremost technology companies is more of a fancy toy than a genuine tool. Read More ›
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The Allure of General Purpose Technologies

Generative AI is merely the most recent one.

The printing press, steam engine, electricity, mass production, the computer, the micro-chip, and the Internet are some of the biggest examples of general-purpose technologies (GPTs) over the last five hundred years, with an increasing number of them appearing over the last two centuries. Touted by economists, they define GPTs as those technologies that have impacted on many economic sectors and thus ended up changing the world, mostly for the good. Some of the world’s most valuable companies have succeeded with these GPTs most recently on the Internet. The so-called magnificent seven — Microsoft, Apple, Google, Meta, Netflix, Nvidia, and Amazon — all succeeded on the Internet, and investors are looking for the next GPTs, most recently in generative AI of Read More ›

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Human Impersonation AI Must Be Outlawed

I didn't used to think that AI systems could threaten civilization. Now I do.

(Previous version first appeared at theepochtimes.com on 1/12/2024) In 15 minutes of techno-evolutionary time, artificial intelligence-powered systems will threaten our civilization. Yesterday, I didn’t think so; I do now. Here’s how it will happen. The AI Human Impersonation Danger Recall how in 2023 criminals used an artificial intelligence (AI) system to phone an Arizona mother and say they were holding her daughter for ransom. The AI system mimicked perfectly her daughter’s voice down to the word choices and sobs. The terrified mom found her daughter safe at home, only then to determine the call was a scam. That crime showed the power of AI audio alone to deceive and defraud people. Today, Mom gets a text message demanding a ransom, Read More ›

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Napster, Spotify, and AI: How Will AI Escape Copyright Woes?

Robert J. Marks on AI and learning from past copyright cases.

Copyright lawsuits are abounding against generative AI. Since the advent of ChatGPT in late 2022, various companies, artists, and writers have raised concerns over AI’s plagiaristic tendencies. Robert J. Marks, host of the Mind Matters podcast, has the story over at Newsmax. Marks recalls the debacle of Napster, a music streaming service that provided music for “free” without payment to the artists. Not surprisingly, it was soon shut down. So how will it fare with generative AI? What’s the solution to all the impending legal woes in the realm of AI? Marks writes, Today’s Spotify keeps automatic records of song frequency and, from subscriber’s payments, distributes royalties accordingly. Similar methods could be applied to compensate content creators by generative AI. It’s not Read More ›


Artificially Smart: Artificial Intelligence and Higher Education

Understanding needs to remain the metric by which students are evaluated

Artificial Intelligence tools like Copilot and ChatGPT can increase productivity. They speed up workflows and can be used to automate freeing people to spend their time on creative tasks. Advances in artificial intelligence technologies had a significant impact on the economy in 2023. Fortune magazine attributes AI-related economic growth as having helped “saved the economy” because growth in this sector offset disappointing returns in other sectors.  But with great power comes great responsibility. The tools of AI allow freshman college students to do what a year ago would have required a decade of professional experience. Educational institutions must carefully consider where and how these tools can be used without undermining the quality of education. Otherwise, overreliance on artificial intelligence will Read More ›

Communication technology for internet business. Global world network and telecommunication on earth cryptocurrency and blockchain and IoT. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

Is Tech Still Innovating?

Is it just me, or is the world of technology feeling a bit … stale?

After the last thirty years of working in technology, innovation in these last few years seems a tad underwhelming. Is it because governments are starting, for the first time, to seriously consider regulating social media and other IT companies? At least some authors think serious regulation will end the rapid innovation of previous years.   This doesn’t seem like the right answer — information technology, and social media in particular, remains one of the most unregulated markets on Earth. The understanding, based on Section 230, that social media companies are passive platforms when they publish user content, and yet have all the rights of a publisher when filtering content, is still the “law of the land.” Very few information technology Read More ›

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Does ChatGPT Depend on Copyright Violation to Function?

Without copyrighted material, ChatGPT has slim pickings to go on.

ChatGPT, the large language model developed by OpenAI, might seem like it generates novel content, but of course we know that it partakes in what’s generally called “scraping.” It takes pre-existing material on the Internet in response to the prompt a human user inserts. Not surprisingly, the folks who put things on the Internet for a living, like writers and artists, haven’t taken so kindly to AI’s online sleuthing. In fact, a number of artists, writers (including George R. R. Martin, Jonathan Franzen, and John Grisham) and even news outlets have sued OpenAI over copyright infringement allegations. What’s fascinating, though, is that OpenAI hasn’t tried to dodge the allegation but freely admits that ChatGPT depends on copyrighted material to function. Read More ›

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Computers Still Do Not “Understand”

Don't be seduced into attributing human traits to computers.

The subtitle of a recent New Yorker article was: “Geoffrey Hinton has spent a lifetime teaching computers to learn. Now he worries that artificial brains are better than ours.” I respectfully disagree. As I’ve repeatedly argued, the real danger today is not that computers are smarter than us but that we think computers are smarter than us. Hinton is extremely intelligent, but he is not the first, and will not be the last, extremely intelligent person to be seduced by a full-blown Eliza effect, attributing human traits to computers. Consider Hinton’s argument about large language models (LLMs): People say, It’s just glorified autocomplete . . . Now, let’s analyze that. Suppose you want to be really good at predicting the Read More ›


When it Comes to New Technologies Like AI, Tempers Run Hot

So far, the most tangible LLM successes have been in generating political disinformation and phishing scams.

Ask an AI-enthusiast how big AI is and how big AI will become, and the answer is likely to be that it is already enormous and that we haven’t seen anything yet. Our enthusiasm is more nuanced. We gave Microsoft’s Bing with ChatGPT-4 the prompt, “How big is AI?,” and received some very specific numbers, along with helpful references: I assume you are asking about the size of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) industry. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global AI market size was valued at USD 136.55 billion in 2022 and is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 37.3% from 2023 to 2030. Another report by Precedence Research estimates that the Read More ›

Man in desert

Copyright in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

What exactly is a human and how does a human differ from a computer?

On December 27, The New York Times Company sued Microsoft and OpenAI for violations of their copyright. The Times contends that training chatbots on its content in order to create an information competitor is a violation of its copyright. This suit is sure to bring up a number of old copyright issues that were never resolved, plus some new that need to be worked through. The fact is, the big search engines have been violating copyright from the very beginning. All search engines are in fact derivative works of the sites that they crawl, index, and dish out. Most search engines even provide excerpts from the sites they scan. However, most copyright holders have turned a blind eye to this for two main Read More ›

Robot hands point to laptop button advisor chatbot robotic artificial intelligence concept.

ChatGPT: You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby  

Reviewing the bot's progress (and problems) from over the last year

ChatGPT is an example of “large language model” (LLM) generative artificial intelligence. LLMs like ChatGPT[i] have come a long way this year. Many writers, including me, have previously identified hurdles thought too high for AI to jump in the near future. In some cases, we were wrong.  Let’s review some of these claims and see how LLM’s have broken through. Can ChatGPT write jokes? Like Commander Data on Star Trek, AI doesn’t understand humor.  Joke writing is hit-or-miss with ChatGPT. I wrote about this in May 2023 where I became impressed with ChatGPT’s hits. I started all my joke writing queries with: “Complete the following to make it funny.”  Here are some of the more jocular responses with Q for Read More ›

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The Two Visions of AI Technology

Competing views of AI's potential comprise a new struggle in Silicon Valley.

A month ago, one of the most dramatic power struggles in Silicon Valley’s corporate history took place in the offices of OpenAI. The board of the tech company suddenly ousted CEO Sam Altman for not being consistently “candid” in his communication. Days later, Altman was back at the helm of OpenAI and the board that canned him got the favor returned. In the following weeks, speculation has swirled over the real reasons Altman and his board butted heads so significantly. Altman, although he’s pushing ahead with AI technologies like ChatGPT and DALL-E, also appeared before members of congress earlier this year and recommended AI be regulated. However, he’s much more on the side of “acceleration,” rolling out AI aggressively and Read More ›

AI chatbot - Artificial Intelligence digital concept

AI Chatbot Claude Passed My “Sex and Gender” Test. I’m Impressed.

The chatbot "Claude" isn't perfect, but it's miles ahead of the others.

The chatbots are improving — fast. One bot, Claude — developed by Anthropic — is truly impressive. In fact, it was the first to pass a test I’ve been giving to various chatbots over the last year. The test is a simple question, designed to determine, first, if the chatbot is just summarizing online stereotypes, or doing real analytic work, and second, if it is ideologically biased. Let me explain. For the last three years, I’ve been working on the controversy over gender ideology, which is responsible for the widespread claim that a child might be “born in the wrong body.” A central theme of this controversy is the shape-shifting uses of the word “gender.” Most people now use the Read More ›

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The Atlantic Warns of Smartphones in Schools. But Is Anyone Listening?

While word is getting out, there's still a long ways to go.

This week, we ran a post covering a new public policy brief from the Institute for Family Studies and the Ethics and Public Policy Center. The brief conclusively demonstrated the tangible harms involved in exposing kids to the online world before they’re ready. The researchers concluded, in addition, that parents should not give their children digital devices. The stakes are too high, from increased risk of mental health disorders to learning impairments. Such warnings have been increasing over the past few years, thanks in large part to the in-depth research of people like Jonathan Haidt and Jean Twenge. The Atlantic published an article today on how smartphones are hurting kids’ cognitive and learning capacities. Derek Thompson writes, Researchers such as Read More ›

Chatbot / Social Bot, Smartphone und Chatverlauf

How Do We Define Successful Use Cases for Generative AI?

Current generative AI systems are designed to give us the most common solutions, instead of the new ones we need.

The debate about AI continues to diversify and intensify. Amidst the disagreements between techno-optimists and doomsayers, there is also a debate about the extent to which AI is currently used and will be used in the future.  McKinsey estimates that “generative AI could add the equivalent of $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion annually across the 63 use cases [it] analyzed,” five years after it said AI in general can deliver $13 trillion in economic value by 2030. Those are big numbers. On the other hand, Gary Marcus has questioned the existence of successful use cases, consistent with various surveys that show a slow uptake of generative AI. In addition, Gary Smith has repeatedly shown the limitations of generative AI in Read More ›

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Large Language Models are Still Smoke and Mirrors

Incapable of understanding, LLMs are good at giving bloated answers.

I recently received an email invitation from Google to try Gemini Pro in Bard. There was an accompanying video demonstration of Bard’s powers, which I didn’t bother watching because of reports that a Gemini promotional video released a few days earlier had been faked. After TED organizer Chris Anderson watched the video, he tweeted, “I can’t stop thinking about the implications of this demo. Surely it’s not crazy to think that sometime next year, a fledgling Gemini 2.0 could attend a board meeting, read the briefing docs, look at the slides, listen to every one’s words, and make intelligent contributions to the issues debated? Now tell me. Wouldn’t that count as AGI?” Legendary software engineer Grady Booch replied, “That demo Read More ›