Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagArtificial Intelligence

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Good and Bad Algorithms in the Practice of Medicine

Computers and artificial intelligence are restricted to being algorithmic. If something is non-algorithmic, it is not computable. Creativity, nuance, and insight are human characteristics that are non-algorithmic. What happens if you remove those human characteristics from the practice of medicine? Robert J. Marks and Dr. Richard Hurley discuss how algorithms can help and harm the practice of medicine. Show Notes…

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Why GPT-3 Can’t Understand Anything

Without long-term memory, human conversation becomes impossible

There is a mathematical reason why machine learning systems like GPT-3 are incapable of understanding. The reason comes down to the fact that machine learning has no memory. It is just probabilistic associations. If there is only a 10% chance of going off topic, then after just seven exchanges there is a greater than 50% chance the machine learning model has gone off topic. The problem is that when prediction is just based on probabilities, the likelihood of making a misprediction increases exponentially. A long-term memory is needed in order to maintain long-term coherence. GPT-3 is essentially a sophisticated Markov process. What is important about the Markov process is that the next step in the process is only dependent on…

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Soylent AI is…people!

OpenAI advertises itself as AI-powered, but at the end of the day, the system is human-powered

In the sci-fi movie, “Soylent Green,” the big reveal is that a food called soylent green is actually made from human beings, the catchphrase being “soylent green is people.” Likewise, as I discovered from a recent exchange with OpenAI’s GPT-3, “soylent AI is people.” GPT-3 is the product of AI company OpenAI. The company made headlines in 2019 with the claim that their AI model was too dangerous to publicly release. OpenAI is not a mere research company. While their publicly stated goal is fairly modest – “Aligning AI systems with human intent” – their CEO Sam Altman has bigger plans. He left his very successful role as president of Y Combinator, one of Silicon Valley’s most successful venture capital…

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The AI Illusion – State-of-the-Art Chatbots Aren’t What They Seem

GPT-3 is very much like a performance by a good magician

Artificial intelligence is an oxymoron. Despite all the incredible things computers can do, they are still not intelligent in any meaningful sense of the word. Decades ago, AI researchers largely abandoned their quest to build computers that mimic our wondrously flexible human intelligence and instead created algorithms that were useful (i.e., profitable). Despite this understandable detour, some AI enthusiasts market their creations as genuinely intelligent. For example, a few months ago, Blaise Aguera y Arcas, the head of Google’s AI group in Seattle, argued that “statistics do amount to understanding.” As evidence, he cites a few exchanges with Google’s LaMDA chatbot. The examples were impressively coherent but they are still what Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis characterize as “a fluent spouter of bullshit” because computer algorithms…

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What Does It Mean to Be Human in an Age of Artificial Intelligence?

What makes mankind special? And what does it mean to flourish on the frontier of a technological future? Robert J. Marks discusses new technology, what artificial intelligence can and can’t do, and the ethical implications of artificial intelligence with Gretchen Huizinga. This interview was originally published by the Beatrice Institute and is repeated here with their permission. Show Notes 01:32…

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Is AlphaZero Actually Superior to the Human Mind?

Comparing AI and the human mind is completely apples and oranges

The Google-backed AI company DeepMind made headlines in March 2016 when its AlphaGo game AI engine was able to defeat Lee Sedol, one of the top Go players in the world. DeepMind followed up this great achievement with the AlphaZero engine in 2017, which made the remarkable achievement of soundly beating AlphaGo in Go as well as one of the world’s best chess engines in chess. The interesting difference between AlphaGo and AlphaZero is that AlphaGo uses databases of top human games for learning, while AlphaZero only learns by playing against itself. Using the same AI engine to dominate two different games, while also discarding reliance on human games suggests that DeepMind has found an algorithm that is intrinsically superior…

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Discussing Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem

What does it even mean to be aware of something, to be conscious? Why do the vast majority of people only have one consciousness? Will computers ever experience consciousness? On this Bingecast, Dr. Robert J. Marks and Dr. Angus Menuge discuss these questions and more. Show Notes 00:01:36 | Introducing Dr. Angus Menuge 00:07:02 | Near-death experiences 00:10:32 | The…

Projecting The Future

What Is AI Doing To Me? AI’s Manufactured World Lacks Value

The best way to defend ourselves from AI's influence is to return to the abstract ideas of virtue, value, and goodness

During the Christmas season I watched that wonderful classic, “Miracle on 34th Street,” starring Maureen O’Hara, Edmund Gwenn, John Payne, and Natalie Wood. About the same time, I had learned of the writings of Samuel Strauss in The Atlantic. I realized that both “Miracle on 34th Street” and Strauss were dealing with issues similar to those we are wrestling with today related to artificial intelligence (AI). Perhaps the most famous lines from “Miracle on 34th Street” are: Susan Walker: I believe, I believe, I believe. Fred Gailey: Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to. Kris Kringle: Oh, Christmas isn’t just a day. It’s a frame of mind. The point made is that what is most…

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Fool’s Gold: Even AI Successes Can Be Failures

Large doses of data, math, and computing power do not make a computer intelligent

I recently read this enthusiastic claim by a professional data miner: Twitter is a goldmine of data…. [T]erabytes of data, combined together with complex mathematical models and boisterous computing power, can create insights human beings aren’t capable of producing. The value that big data Analytics provides to a business is intangible and surpassing human capabilities each and every day. Anthony Sistilli, “Twitter Data Mining: A Guide to Big Data Analytics Using Python” at Toptal I was struck by how easily he assumes that large doses of data, math, and computing power make computers smarter than humans. He is hardly alone, but he is badly mistaken. Computer algorithms are really, really good at making mathematical calculations and identifying statistical patterns (what Turing winner Judea Pearl calls “just curve…

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AI Should Be Less Perfect, More Human

Authors Angus Fletcher and Erik J. Larson point us toward a more sustainable future working alongside artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is fragile. When faced with the ambiguity of the world, it breaks. And when it breaks, our untenable solution is to erase ambiguity. This means erasing our humanness, which in turn breaks us. That’s the problem Angus Fletcher and Erik J. Larson address in their piece published this week in Wired. AI can malfunction at the mildest hint of data slip, so its architects are doing all they can to dampen ambiguity and volatility. And since the world’s primary source of ambiguity and volatility is humans, we have found ourselves aggressively stifled. We’ve been forced into metric assessments at school, standard flow patterns at work, and regularized sets at hospitals, gyms, and social-media hangouts. In the process, we’ve lost…

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What Is AI Doing To Me? How AI Influences Our Concept of Reality

Reality is far more than what can be quantified by a computer

I have been thinking lately about how artificial intelligence (AI) is affecting me. That is a big topic with many avenues to be explored. I would like to explore just two of them here. The first is how AI influences my concept of reality. The second is how AI is influencing my actions. Both of these dynamics are profound and already evident in our world. In this first of two parts, we will explore how AI influences our concept of reality. AI-driven systems receive data from a variety of sources. Their universe is defined by what their sensors can quantify and deliver to them. As we interact with these AI systems, we are subtly influenced to adopt their view of…

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Will AI Take Over Content Moderation?

While content moderators report psychological trauma, experts weigh in on whether artificial intelligence could remove humans from the equation

How do Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, YouTube, and other platforms keep up with the millions upon millions of posts, comments, videos, and photos posted to their sites on a daily basis? It takes a partnership between artificial intelligence and human content moderators.  In recent years, however, content moderators have begun to reveal that their work is often traumatizing. Moderators for Facebook and TikTok have gone so far as to sue for the psychological harm they have experienced at their workplaces, regularly reviewing images and videos that you and I never have to see depicting rape, murder, child trafficking, and other violent and graphic content. Subjecting workers to violent and graphic imagery is an unsustainable way of keeping the internet free of such…

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Jaw Dropping Algorithms That Allow Social Behavior to Thrive

How do bees know how to build their hives? Insects have a wide variety of fascinating social behaviors. Where do they come from? Robert J. Marks and Eric Cassell, author of Animal Algorithms, discuss the origins of these mysterious instincts and how AI research has learned a great deal from nature. Show Notes 00:39 | Introducing Eric Cassell 01:01 |…


Eugenics, Transhumanism, and Artificial Intelligence

If we were to succeed at creating an ethical decision-making AI, whose ethics would it abide by?

In his article for the Digital Journal, Saratendu Sethi argues that to build a sustainable global supply chain requires the humanization of AI. This technological revolution, he says, includes “truly autonomous and self-correcting supply chains” that will replace the flawed capital-driven decision making of humans. Sethi defines this utilitarian mission of serving the “greater good” through what he calls a “sustainable, ethical and responsible world that puts equity for all at the center.” His motive of helping everyone while protecting the environment is commendable, yet the larger question remains, whose ethic will drive the logic used by this AI? When resources are limited, how will this AI decide who gets food and who gets medicine? Based on my own study, Sethi’s…

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Universal Design and Artificial Intelligence

Do AI systems serve us all?

An elderly couple I know recently sold their home and became renters. They thought they had sold their house for a good price, but I am not so sure. I am pretty sure they were swindled by a smooth sales pitch from one of those home-buying companies that are buying up so many homes. They had been homeowners, paying off their mortgage and getting the benefit of the rising value of their home. Now, they are renters, helping to pay their landlord’s mortgage and increasing his net worth. All this got me thinking about universal design and artificial intelligence (AI). Universal design is the discipline of designing products and services for as large a part of the population as possible.…

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Social Media Content Moderator Sues TikTok for PTSD

Social media moderators protect users from graphic content, but who protects the moderators?

A social media content moderator is suing TikTok, a popular video app, for psychological trauma developed from 12-hour shifts moderating endless graphic videos. Candie Frazier works for Telus International, a Canadian contracting firm providing moderation services to social media apps like TikTok. Frazier filed a complaint with the California Central District Court in December, alleging that TikTok and parent company ByteDance do not provide enough support for the psychological wellbeing of their contracted moderators, whose job it is to remove violent, graphic, and otherwise inappropriate content from the platform. TikTok’s popularity exploded in the aftermath of pandemic lockdowns, especially among millennials and Generation Z. As of September, TikTok reported 1 billion users every month. In her complaint, Frazier explains that…

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Hyping Artificial Intelligence Hinders Innovation

When AI is equated with human intelligence, innovation suffers. While artificial intelligence can help to improve our world, many people believe the myth that it can reach beyond the limits of its programming. Andrew McDiarmid, senior fellow at Discovery Institute, discusses the limitations and dangers of AI with Erik Larson, author of the new book The Myth of Artificial Intelligence.…

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Bad News for Artificial General Intelligence

The problem with complex systems is that a lot can go wrong. It turns out that the number of potential problems grows exponentially as you add more factors to a system. Justin Bui and Samuel Haug discuss contingencies and artificial general intelligence with Robert J. Marks. Show Notes 01:10 | Introducing Justin Bui and Sam Haug 01:28 | Exponential Explosion…

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When AI Goes Wrong

AI must do what it is designed to do, but what if it doesn’t? What if AI begins behaving in bizarre and unpredictable ways? The more complex the system, the more that it can go wrong. Robert J. Marks discusses artificial general intelligence (AGI) with Justin Bui and Samuel Haug. Show Notes 00:37 | Introducing Justin Bui and Samuel Haug…