Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis



They Say This Is An Information Economy. So What Is Information?

How, exactly, is an article in the news different from a random string of letters and punctuation marks?

We know information when we see it. An article contains information. A photograph contains information. The thoughts in our mind contain information. So does a computer program and so do our genomes. Yet other things we see around us clearly do not contain information. A handful of toothpicks dropped on the ground does not. Nor do the swirling tea leaves in a cup. Neither does a pair of tossed dice nor a sequence of 100 coin flips. But mere disorder is not the clue. An intricate snowflake does not contain information either. Can we state the difference between the article and the scattered toothpicks precisely? That’s tricky. Both Claude Shannon and Andrey Kolmogorov came up with information metrics. But the…

Lady in Glass

Interview With a Woman (or Women) Formerly Called Susan Blackmore

A professor of psychology argues that there is no continuity between our present selves and our past selves

Much of modern philosophy of mind is a compendium of New Age gibberish. An exemplar of this mess is Susan Blackmore, a Visiting Professor (Psychology) at the University of Plymouth. She is an atheist, a “skeptic,” and a prolific author. When she was interviewed in 2016 about her philosophy of mind, remarkably, in addition to the usual atheist denial of immortality of the soul and of free will, she denied personal continuity over time. How does Blackmore account for the doggedly persistent sense we have of personal continuity? “Parallel processing” is her explanation. Blackmore points out that there are many brain pathways that are active simultaneously when we perceive, think, and act. What does that have to do with personal…

Text paper trees

How Can We Study Consciousness Scientifically?

Tam Hunt offers some ideas at Scientific American but his dismissal of objectivity is cause for concern. There is a better way.

Hunt is right that the scientific study of consciousness using merely third-person objective data is flawed—it is the idiotic flaw of behaviorism—but the notion that “objective” data needs scare quotes opens the door to a deconstruction of our knowledge of the natural world that is every bit as idiotic and dangerous as the crude materialist objectification of consciousness.

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Arrangement mit Zitrusfrüchten, citrus fruits

How Can Mind Interact with Matter?

Nature itself provides examples of how the immaterial interacts with the material

Nature is pervaded by immaterial forms like chirality that determine the properties of matter. This interaction is well recognized in science. It is in this sense that spirit and matter can and do interact.

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