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Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

TagBacteria as living computers

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3d man with computer evolution concept

SwiftKey Co-founder: Computers Can’t Just “Evolve” Intelligence

Can vain hopes for AI spring from a wrong understanding of evolution?

Ben Medlock (pictured), co-founder of SwiftKey, which gave Stephen Hawking (1942–2018) better speech software in 2014, offers a perspective on the limitations of artificial intelligence that you may not have heard before. SwiftKey (since sold to Microsoft) is a mobile app that uses predictive technology to adapt to the way that users type. While Hawking went on to warn that AI would take over the world, creating “the worst event in our history,” Medlock said, not so fast: Let’s look at what AI can’t do and why. First, he says, back in the 1950s, researchers tried to develop artificial intelligence that could think like people, using logical symbols alone. The trouble was, people don’t think that way and in any…

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Antibiotic resistant bacteria inside a biofilm, 3D illustration. Biofilm is a community of bacteria where they aquire antibiotic resistance and communicate with each other by quorum sensing molecules

In What Ways Are Bacteria Intelligent?

As antibiotic resistance grows, researchers are discovering that these microbes are not just single, simple cells

Recently, Princeton University physicist Robert Austin challenged his graduate student Trung Phan to design a maze that he (Austin) couldn’t solve: Austin, Phan discovered, tended to retrace his steps when he encountered a dead end. So Tran decided on a maze without dead ends. The true purpose of the experiment, as Sophia Chen recounts at Wired, was to design a maze that bacteria can solve with remarkable skill based on their colony organization which, if you like, stands in for a brain: Curiously, bacteria—single-celled organisms that are among the simplest living things—are well known for working together, creating problem-solving units that are more than the sum of their parts. For example, to protect themselves from your immune system, the bacteria…