Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis


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Can AI Customize and Individualize Healthcare?

Mundie thinks some aspects of biology are too complex for humans. Could AI help?

Craig Mundie says that his dream is to make artificial intelligence one day rival human intellect. While many worry about more dystopian outcomes as result of that, Mundie sees AI as dual use. In his opinion, it can be used for good or ill just like any other technology. Jay Richards interviews Craig Mundie, President of Mundie & Associates and former Microsoft Chief Research Officer about emerging trends in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), especially for human systems and healthcare. Craig Mundie: “Well, I think the problem is, you need to model all of human biology. In my opinion, human biology is too complicated for humans. It’s just too complicated. So the question is, is it possible that a Read More ›

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Science as Insight vs. Science as Power

What are the core purposes of science and math? Evaluating the idea of "knowledge as power" in the computer age

Should machines replace mathematicians? This phrase is the headline of a new post by science writer John Horgan, who comments on the current state of mathematics and the growing potential of AI and computers to do all the “heavy lifting” of the mathematical enterprise. Horgan notes that mathematicians were the ones to develop computers in the first place, but now, with the advent of advanced computing and artificial intelligence, the role of human-driven mathematics is getting vague. However, maybe math is more about input and output but a “way of being human.” For Horgan, data and computation don’t get to the heart of scientific and mathematical endeavors. It needs to mean something more than an impersonal process geared towards calculable Read More ›

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Synthetic Biology: What New Therapies Are in Store?

For today's featured video from COSM 2022, watch Babak Parviz, Vice President at Amazon, lead a discussion on synthetic biology

For today’s featured video from COSM 2022, watch Babak Parviz, Vice President at Amazon, lead a discussion on synthetic biology, the multi-disciplinary field that applies engineering principles to redesign biological systems for new purposes. The panel focuses on bio-medical technologies that hold great promise for curing diseases and even counteracting human aging. For more material on the topic, see this piece on Altos Labs and their work on bio-longevity. Part of their project also involves artificial intelligence research: Altos Labs’ vision isn’t too far removed from that of the transhumanists who want to computerize human consciousness. For them, however, longevity is a junior varsity goal — what we really need is a way to live forever. Harrison quips at the Read More ›

living forever
Abstract image of Artificial Intelligence

Do You Really Want to Live Forever?

Organizations like Altos Labs are funding research in cell rejuvenation and biological longevity

2023 is expected to yield “breakthrough” research in aging treatments, led by the Palo Alto medical company Altos Labs. Jeff Bezos is among the donors of the organization, which notes on its homepage that its mission is “to restore cell health and resilience through cellular rejuvenation programming to reverse disease, injury, and the disabilities that can occur throughout life.” A Wired article is optimistic about the direction of the research and compares its potential to the development of antibiotic treatment. Andrew Steele writes, In 2023, early success of these treatments could kickstart the greatest revolution in medicine since the discovery of antibiotics. Rather than going to the doctor when we’re sick and picking off age-related problems like cancer and dementia Read More ›

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Intelligent Design Is Not What Most People Think It Is

Widespread confusion about Intelligent Design leads us to address the question: What exactly is it?

When I tell people that I do work in Intelligent Design (ID) research, either the person I’m talking to has no idea what Intelligent Design is, or they have quite a faulty idea of what Intelligent Design is. This isn’t their fault — media reports don’t seem to be able to make sense of what we are doing either. Some people have attributed this to malice, and, while I’m sure there’s plenty of that to go around, I think that it is in large part actually the result of Intelligent Design doing something genuinely new, making it difficult for people to shove us into existing boxes. Intelligent Design, at its core, says that agency is a distinct causal category in the world. That Read More ›

Abstract green DNA

An Unlikely Collaboration to Elucidate Life’s Blueprints

Joining together the forces of biology and engineering to improve both fields

What happens when you get sixty biologists and engineers together in a conference for three days? That’s the question asked by Steve Laufman, head of the Engineering Research Group at Discovery. In the recent “Conference on Engineering in Living Systems,” biologists and engineers of every stripe got together to see how the two disciplines could benefit each other. For biologists, learning how engineers examine, design, and plan projects was eye-opening. Traditionally, biologists focus on individual interactions, not whole-systems approaches. For engineers, discovering the details of cellular architecture and control mechanisms was especially enlightening.  The conference had a diverse set of presentations, covering numerous areas of overlap between the two fields. One presentation discussed biologically-inspired robots, as well as how they can Read More ›

DNA in hand on blue background.
DNA in hand on blue background concept design.

The Coolest Tech on the Planet (Hint: It’s Inside You!)

The intricate design of the living cell has left many materialists stumped

These days, we surround ourselves with technology to stay in touch, to keep ourselves informed, and to manage the challenges of our daily lives. We also recognize in our devices and machines all the hallmarks of design, understanding reflexively that they express the ingenuity of engineers or software developers. Our appreciation for applied intelligence comes as second nature to us — we intuitively recognize the work of other minds. But what happens when we look up from our technology and survey the world of nature? When we look up at the movement of the planets, or into the eyes of our children, or when we peer through a microscope into a living cell? Do we see signs of minds in Read More ›

Engineering students using a 3D printer

Why Engineering Can’t Be Reduced to the Laws of Physics

When we reduce the engineer’s mind to a computer, the source of innovation disappears

The fundamental problem of modern science is the problem of innovation. Where does novelty come from? This problem shows up in physics, biology, artificial intelligence, and economics. Within physics, the problem is how to account for the fundamental constants of reality. They are all precisely tuned to make sentient and intelligent life—life that can learn about itself and the universe—possible through science. Within biology, the problem is accounting for the source of highly complex genetic sequences that express finely tuned biological functions. In artificial intelligence, the challenge is identifying solutions that are relevant to a given scenario. In economics the problem is identifying the right products for the market. What do all these situations have in common? In each case, Read More ›