Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis


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The Human Mind Adds Better Than It Subtracts

Getting control of the tendency might be a key to better decision-making skills, researchers say

When trying to solve a problem, a recent study showed that it is much easier for us to add things than to subtract them: In a new paper featured on the cover of Nature, University of Virginia researchers explain why people rarely look at a situation, object or idea that needs improving — in all kinds of contexts — and think to remove something as a solution. Instead, we almost always add some element, whether it helps or not. Jennifer McManamay/University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science, “Why our brains miss opportunities to improve through subtraction” at ScienceDaily The paper is closed access. In a sense, we all know this. When we want to make something look better,…

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Babies Can Understand Whole Sentences Before They Can Speak

Before uttering their first word, a new study suggests, children can understand what groups of words mean together

In a recent study of 11–12 month olds published in Cognition, researchers found that infants on the verge of saying single words themselves can already process complete sentences such as “Clap your hands.” The research sheds light on the difficulties adults have learning second languages if they focus too intensely on single words: Dr Barbora Skarabela, of the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Languages Sciences, said: “Previous research has shown that young infants recognise many common words. But this is the first study that shows that infants extract and store more than just single words from everyday speech. This suggests that when children learn language, they build on linguistic units of varying sizes, including multiword sequences, and not just single…

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Bingecast: Selmer Bringsjord on the Lovelace Test

The Turing test, developed by Alan Turing in 1950, is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour indistinguishable from a human. Many think that Turing’s proposal for intelligence, especially creativity, has been proven inadequate. Is the Lovelace test a better alternative? What are the capabilities and limitations of AI? Robert J. Marks and Dr. Selmer Bringsjord discuss…

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In What Ways Are Spiders Intelligent?

The ability to perform simple cognitive functions does not appear to depend on the vertebrate brain as such

This year saw a huge uproar in science media over claims that prominent researcher of spider behavior Jonathan Pruitt, a behavioral ecologist currently at McMaster University in Canada, had fabricated evidence of complex, seemingly intelligent behavior in spiders. After many colleagues recently raised concerns in blogs and tweets that behavioral ecologist Jonathan Pruitt had fabricated the data behind a slew of provocative results regarding animal personalities and social spiders, he denied the charges, saying any problems were inadvertent mistakes. Elizabeth Pennisi, “Embattled spider biologist seeks to delay additional retractions of problematic papers” at Science (March 12, 2020) Some of Pruitt’s data management mistakes seem rather curious: More than 20 scientists — co-authors, peers and other interested observers in the field…

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Can Human Minds Be Reduced to Computer Programs?

In Silicon Valley that has long been a serious belief. But are we really anywhere close?

Computer scientist Selmer Bringsjord recalls, “I remember asking James Moor, the Dartmouth professor who’s written quite a bit on AI: “You know. Jim, you really are a true believer in this stuff but can you tell me how much time you’re willing to give these AI people? I mean, if we give them another thousand years, and we still don’t have cognition as I’ve characterized it… Are you going to be skeptical now?” He was, I suppose, as an academic, predictably clever and evasive, but the bottom line is, we don’t have this cognition captured.

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Can We Upload Ourselves to a Computer and Live Forever?

There are some who say immortality is available if we can upload our minds to a computer. This presupposes our minds are computable and can be duplicated by a computer. Are our minds computable? Robert J. Marks and Dr. Selmer Bringsjord discuss consciousness, cognition, and artificial intelligence. Show Notes 00:39 | Introducing Selmer Bringsjord, Professor — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)…

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New Evidence That Some Comatose People Really Do Understand

Researchers found mental activity in response to verbal commands even in some “completely unresponsive” patients

There is growing evidence that many comatose patients are quite aware of what is going on around them. For example, nurses are often very careful not to say upsetting things that the patient can hear because blood pressure often rises dramatically, even in deeply “unaware” comatose patients.

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