Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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Facebook Goes After Research Group Studying Its Ad Policies

The researchers received information from volunteers in order to study apparent violations of ad policies during the recent U.S. election

Facebook, one of the most ambitious companies in modern history—it is, after all, contemplating its own currency—is also trying to shut down an academic research group it doesn’t Like. The Ad Observatory, a project of NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, monitors ads on Facebook. In the most recent American election, they studied “Which candidates, super PACS, and dark money groups are spending most on Facebook advertising nationwide? What topics do they emphasize and what objectives do they seek to achieve with ads?” The project asked volunteers to install a plugin, Ad Observer, that automatically scrapes ads presented on Facebook and sends them in. Why does it matter? Because most of us see only a small proportion of the ads that…

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Crypto currency background with various of shiny silver and golden physical cryptocurrencies symbol coins, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, zcash, ripple

Has COVID-19 Helped or Harmed Crypto and Blockchain?

Cryptocurrencies rebounded after an initial slump earlier this year

The recently aired discussion at COSM about the future of bitcoin and other privately minted cryptocurrencies took place last October, before COVID-19 was much thought of in the Western world. Catching up, the cryptos and blockchain had a rough ride earlier this year but they have stabilized recently. In February, as the pandemic sent markets scurrying, things were looking grim for the cryptos: During the last week, the spread of the coronavirus has been all over the news; the virus, which had remained well-contained in China, spread throughout South Korea, Iran, Italy, and is now reaching its fingers into other parts of Europe. The New York Times reported on Thursday that “the signs were everywhere…that the epidemic shaking much of…

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Group of friends using smartphones to communicate in social media. Concept of a generation of millennials who are online all the time. Warm hipster filter.

The Social Dilemma: You’re Not the Customer, You’re the Product

A new Netflix documentary explores the techniques used to explore, then shape and sharpen, our attitudes, values, and beliefs

What is truth? This question has likely been pondered by man for as long as man has been able to ponder. How do you know that what you read or hear is true? How do you know that what you think is true? Why is it that people with different worldviews or belief systems can look at the exact same raw objective data and interpret it in radically different ways? The answers to these questions are important to “know”, insofar as anyone can know anything within a reasonable degree of certainty. However, in our society today, it is becoming more and more difficulty to determine what is true––with any degree of certainty. A recent 90-minute Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma,…

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Artificial robot hand touch human hand

Will We Outsource Religion and Spirituality to AI ?

A philosopher makes the case. But he worries, are we really outsourcing caring about others?

Last Sunday, we looked at the question raised by Professor David O’Hara of Augustana University (South Dakota) as to whether AI could someday have mystical experiences. Of course, a lot depends on whether AI can have any experiences at all. An agnostic himself, O’Hara has also asked us to consider how robot priests will “change human spirituality”: What matters is not whether we have invented true artificial intelligence, but whether we believe we have invented it. If we trust the machine, we might let it function as a mystic or a priest, even if it isn’t one. This raises the interesting question of what to do when someone makes a machine that is actually intended to play the role of…

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iron chain and castle on the silk national flag of Hong Kong with beautiful folds, the concept of a ban on tourism, political repression, crime, violation of the rights and freedoms of citizens

Hong Kong: Tech Companies Face Serious Ethical Decisions

As Hong Kong is transformed into a police state, Western companies, faced with demands for snitching on users, are rethinking cozy relationships with China

The semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong is no longer semi-autonomous, at least in practice. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), circumventing Hong Kong’s parliament and courts, passed the Hong Kong National Security Law on June 30 that effectively abolishes the “one country, two systems” regime outlined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The law was passed one day before the anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China (July 1, 1997), in time to quash any pro-democracy candidates who would likely win in the September elections. Although the CCP justifies its moves from the Hong Kong Basic Law and claims that Hong Kong will maintain autonomy, in practice, it has already arrested dissidents and formed a secretive agency called the Office…

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Wall Street Journal columnist to Big Tech: You are doomed

Companies like Google and Facebook aren’t monsters, says Andy Kessler, but each nourishes the seeds of its own destruction

Kessler told his audience at the COSM National Technology Summit that Big Tech companies are so vulnerable that, for legal reasons, the United States is the only safe place for their headquarters.

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Chair of Forbes Media Says Money Is About Trust

Experts forecast the future of money in general at COSM

Facebook wants to start minting its own money. Amazon is said to be thinking about it. Bitcoin has many enthusiasts. But what determines the value of money in a digital age?

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Friends talking to each

Facebook Gets Rich Off What We Tell Our Friends

Social media pioneer David Gelernter also has a proposal for sharing the wealth more fairly

Yale University computer science prof David Gelernter, “a leading figure in the third generation of artificial intelligence” (Edge.org). social networks pioneer, and Unabomber survivor, discusses his idea in a podcast at The Federalist Radio Hour.

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Popping water balloon / highspeed image
Popping water balloon / highspeed image

Fast Facts re the Google, Facebook Anti-Trust Probes

The 48-state pile-on comes just before an election year

The accusations by American states of a Big Social Media stranglehold on advertising come on the heels of the European Union fining Google $billions in recent years for anti-competitive activities.

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New Hacking Tactics

Many Parents Ignore Risks of Posting Kids’ Data Online

The lifelong digital footprint, which starts before birth, makes identity theft much easier
The recently discovered “design flaw” in Facebook’s Messenger app, aimed at kids, was a wake-up call. Keeping a child’s data out of the wrong hands is just part of good parenting today. Read More ›
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Lady obstructs view of her face with her hands

You Think You Have Nothing To Hide?

Then why are Big Tech moguls making billions from what you and others tell them?

The bottom line is this: if you think you don’t have anything to hide, then you don’t understand how the modern data economy really works, nor the impact of being caught in a riptide of public opinion.

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Facebook “Likes” Cryptocurrency

We asked Jonathan Bartlett, what the new coin, Libra, means for Facebook? For crypto?

Avoiding having to judge between currencies "solves a political problem for Facebook, but I don't see that it solves problems for anyone else," Bartlett says.

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Will Facebook’s New Focus on “Community” Groups Prevent Abuses?

When you look a little closer at the proposal, you will see that the answer is no

Facebook's move to a more group-focused interface gives the appearance of stronger privacy and community orientation but the structure and logic of social media ensure that these are appearances rather than realities.

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Worker in blue uniform cleaning graffiti

Facebook’s Secret Censorship Rules Expose a Key Problem

Most moderators are not skilled and have only a few seconds to decide on a post
Censorship is part of the larger question of whether social media are the telephone company (a communications platform), the newspaper (a publisher), or unregulated private klatsches. Or something else altogether? Read More ›
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Facebook is said to be exploring minting its own cryptocurrency

If Facebook wants to mint private currency, can it still be the judge of morals and manners among users?

A software engineer and tech blogger sees ideas sprout up all over, including both the absurd and the brilliant, as traditional companies try to incorporate cryptocurrencies into their business model.

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Hacks damage Facebook, kill Google+

The internet changes everything. For example, it makes the Big Guys more vulnerable, not less vulnerable, than bit players
Facebook gets blamed for everything from what Russia does to what American voters do. But the people who seem to think Mark Zuckerberg and company have superpowers for changing the world are mistaken. Facebook was not able to fend off a damaging hack. Read More ›
Portraits of people thinking

Who built AI? You did, mostly

Along with millions of others, you are providing free training data
For AI to work you need data. The most innovative players in the AI space have learned how to get users to willingly and gladly provide them with data for free. Read More ›
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Giant Google’s Vulnerable Spot

Social media are free because we are both the content and the market
Recently, we looked at philosopher of technology George Gilder’s Life after Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy. But what form would that decline take? A look at the advertising picture offers one clue. Read More ›