Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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Multiple smartphone screens

Getting Intentional About Your Screens

Our obsession today with screens is, often unintentionally, taking us to places we regret. We use these windows into the world for hours every day, often unaware how intentional content creators and app designers are in shaping our decisions and forming harmful habits. Read More ›
Hacker Cyborg. Combination of robot and artificial intelligence

AI: The Potential and the Problems

Despite the hype regarding the seemingly infinite possibilities surrounding AI technology, artificial intelligence still has a number of humbling hurtles to overcome. Justin Bui and Samuel Haug join Robert J. Marks to discuss the latest developments in artificial intelligence.  Show Notes 00:00:56 | The Homunculus 00:04:09 | Introducing Justin Bui 00:06:54 | Fast AI 00:13:45 | Deepfake Technology 00:21:40 | Read More ›

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Strichcode

What You Need To Know About Surveillance Capitalism

A Harvard professor coined the term and her 2019 book sounds a warning about how Google and Facebook gain power and wealth selling YOU

The term “surveillance capitalism” was coined by Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff in her book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. It’s a fascinating read, offering insight into the power that companies like Google and Facebook have amassed and the danger that power poses to our way of life. Here’s how she explained it to the United Kingdom’s Channel 4 News in 2019: Here’s how surveillance capitalism works, just in brief. It begins with these companies claiming, unilaterally claiming, our private human experience as their free source of raw material. So what do they do with that raw material? They lift out of it the rich predictive signals in our Read More ›

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Puppet hands from leadership controlling our lives. Concept

How to Sever Big Tech’s Strings

Doug Smith, author of [Un]Intentional: How Screens Secretly Shape Your Desires and How You Can Break Free, explains to Andrew McDiarmid how we can escape the subtle influence of Big Tech. He also emphasizes the importance of removing ourselves from our screens so we can enjoy the outside world and recapture our creativity. Show Notes 00:38 | Introducing Doug Smith Read More ›

Man showing tricks with cards

The AI Illusion – State-of-the-Art Chatbots Aren’t What They Seem

GPT-3 is very much like a performance by a good magician

Artificial intelligence is an oxymoron. Despite all the incredible things computers can do, they are still not intelligent in any meaningful sense of the word. Decades ago, AI researchers largely abandoned their quest to build computers that mimic our wondrously flexible human intelligence and instead created algorithms that were useful (i.e., profitable). Despite this understandable detour, some AI enthusiasts market their creations as genuinely intelligent. For example, a few months ago, Blaise Aguera y Arcas, the head of Google’s AI group in Seattle, argued that “statistics do amount to understanding.” As evidence, he cites a few exchanges with Google’s LaMDA chatbot. The examples were impressively coherent but they are still what Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis characterize as “a fluent spouter of bullshit” because computer algorithms Read More ›

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cropped shot of robot playing chess on wooden surface

Is AlphaZero Actually Superior to the Human Mind?

Comparing AI and the human mind is completely apples and oranges

The Google-backed AI company DeepMind made headlines in March 2016 when its AlphaGo game AI engine was able to defeat Lee Sedol, one of the top Go players in the world. DeepMind followed up this great achievement with the AlphaZero engine in 2017, which made the remarkable achievement of soundly beating AlphaGo in Go as well as one of the world’s best chess engines in chess. The interesting difference between AlphaGo and AlphaZero is that AlphaGo uses databases of top human games for learning, while AlphaZero only learns by playing against itself. Using the same AI engine to dominate two different games, while also discarding reliance on human games suggests that DeepMind has found an algorithm that is intrinsically superior Read More ›

closeup keyboard laptop and Google Ads AdWords app icon on smart
closeup keyboard laptop and Google Ads AdWords app icon on smartphone screen. Google is the biggest Internet search engine in the world. Moscow, Russia - April 27, 2019

Facebook and Google Face Big Legal Challenges

The FTC, dozens of states, and private citizens are coming after the big tech companies for antitrust violations

How has 2022 begun for our favorite Big Tech companies? With a good chunk of lawsuits. As technology companies grow bigger, they face bigger legal challenges. Here’s a brief rundown of a few such challenges Facebook and Google face in the courts in this new year: FTC Antitrust Lawsuit Against Facebook Moves Forward Let’s begin at the federal level. Last June, Judge James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia tossed out a lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) challenging Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp. According to Boasberg, the FTC failed to adequately show that Facebook holds a monopoly. Not to be dissuaded, the FTC re-filed with an amended complaint in August. Last Read More ›

Woman walking smartphone tik tok

Social Media Content Moderator Sues TikTok for PTSD

Social media moderators protect users from graphic content, but who protects the moderators?

A social media content moderator is suing TikTok, a popular video app, for psychological trauma developed from 12-hour shifts moderating endless graphic videos. Candie Frazier works for Telus International, a Canadian contracting firm providing moderation services to social media apps like TikTok. Frazier filed a complaint with the California Central District Court in December, alleging that TikTok and parent company ByteDance do not provide enough support for the psychological wellbeing of their contracted moderators, whose job it is to remove violent, graphic, and otherwise inappropriate content from the platform. TikTok’s popularity exploded in the aftermath of pandemic lockdowns, especially among millennials and Generation Z. As of September, TikTok reported 1 billion users every month. In her complaint, Frazier explains that Read More ›

Customer service and support live chat with chatbot and automati

Chatbots: Still Dumb After All These Years

Intelligence is more than statistically appropriate responses

In 1970, Marvin Minsky, recipient of the Turing Award (“the Nobel Prize of Computing”), predicted that within “three to eight years we will have a machine with the general intelligence of an average human being.”  Fifty-two years later, we’re still waiting. The fundamental roadblock is that, although computer algorithms are really, really good at identifying statistical patterns, they have no way of knowing what these patterns mean because they are confined to MathWorld and never experience the real world. As Richard Feynman famously explained, there is a fundamental difference between labeling things and understanding them: [My father] taught me “See that bird? It’s a brown-throated thrush, but in Germany it’s called a halsenflugel, and in Chinese they call it a chung ling and even Read More ›

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Close-up image of coder typing on computer

The Search for the Universal Algorithm Continues

Why does machine learning always seem to be rounding a corner, only to eventually hit a wall?

DeepMind, a part of Alphabet (i.e., Google), has made many headlines in the past. The biggest was its development of AlphaGo, which used reinforcement learning to beat the number one Go player at the time (2017). DeepMind generalized this into AlphaZero, which is supposedly able to solve any two-player game of perfect information. DeepMind has come back into headlines recently with the attempt to build an AI which can generate any algorithm. While they are starting with map data, the goal is to generalize this and generate any desired algorithm. The search for such a “universal algorithm” has been essentially equivalent to the search for a perpetual motion machine in physics. The allure of both is obvious. In physics, if you Read More ›

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Gold bitcoin on dark background

COSM Speaker Peter Thiel: The Failures and “Self-Hatred” of Big Tech

Listen to maverick entrepreneur Peter Thiel’s talk from last year’s COSM conference. Thiel discusses his views of artificial intelligence, Big Tech’s monopoly, China, and the future of technology with legendary tech guru George Gilder. You can register now to hear Peter Thiel and George Gilder at this year’s COSM conference in November. Show Notes 00:50 | Introducing Peter Thiel 01:12 Read More ›

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Group of demonstrators on road, young people from different culture and race fight for climate change - Global warming and enviroment concept - Focus on banners

Google and YouTube Demonetize Climate Change Skeptics

But how did Google acquire the authority to declare what is "misinformation" or "scientific consensus"?

The Google Ads team announced a new policy last week banning the monetization of content critical of a current consensus around climate change. Beginning in November, both Google and YouTube will: …prohibit ads for, and monetization of, content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change. This includes content referring to climate change as a hoax or a scam, claims denying that long-term trends show the global climate is warming, and claims denying that greenhouse gas emissions or human activity contribute to climate change. Google Ads team, “Updating our ads and monetization policies on climate change,” posted October 7, 2021 This does not mean that Google and YouTube will block any and all content that denies Read More ›

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children's sorter with geometric shapes on a white background selective focus

If Google Thinks For You, Use THEIR Search Engine. Otherwise…

Google’s monopoly affects the free exchange of ideas in the public square and our electoral process

For years, the internet has been dominated by the all-seeing Google. Google has been so successful in its execution and protection of its brand that we culturally understand that to “Google” something is to conduct an internet search, despite the existence of alternative search engines. Google holds a massive advantage over all other search engines. More than 88% of all web searches are conducted through Google while the second-largest web browser, Bing, claims not quite 6% of all web searches. While alternative search services have existed for years (such as DuckDuckGo, Ask, and Startpage), only two English language indexes exist – Google’s and Bing’s. Most of the familiar search “alternatives” pull from those two datasets. Alternative search engines, then, aren’t all that Read More ›

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Federal Judge Strikes Down Florida Big Tech Law

The judge ruled that the law violates the First Amendment rights of social media companies

A federal judge struck down the recent Florida legislation aimed at reigning in the censorship powers of Big Tech, hours before it was set to go into effect. Within days of Governor DeSantis signing the bill into law in May, NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) filed a lawsuit, representing the biggest names in social media (such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Amazon). They argued that the new law is a violation of their First Amendment rights as private companies. On June 30, Judge Robert L. Hinkle of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida ruled in favor of NetChoice and CCIA, issuing a preliminary injunction on the law after determining that it violates the First Amendment Read More ›

George Gilder: Google Does Not Believe in Life After Google

Will technology permanently solve the problem of human productivity? Does the future look like a life of leisure while robots do all the work we currently do? In a panel discussion at the 2019 Dallas launch of the Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence, George Gilder offered some thoughts on the evening’s topic, “Will ‘Smart’ Machines Take Over Read More ›

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question mark letters

The Most “Woke” Company Could Contribute Most to Online Bias

Google has got to be one of the "Wokest" companies but there is a lesson in how Timnit Gebru got fired

Here’s a paper worth revisiting, “On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots: Can Language Models Be Too Big?” (March 3, 2021), if only for the principal author’s trouble associated with publishing it. Although Google had hired Timnit Gebru to do ethics consultation, an executive, Megan Kacholia demanded that she remove all suggestion of her affiliation. In the ensuing uproar, Gebru ended up no longer employed there. The paper in question was, in Gebru’s mind, pretty unobjectionable. It surveyed the known pitfalls of so-called large language models, a type of AI software — most famously exemplified by a system called GPT-3 — that was stoking excitement in the tech industry. Google’s own version of the technology was now helping to power the Read More ›

Big brother electronic eye concept, technologies for the global surveillance, security of computer systems and networks

A Book Review: The Tyranny of Big Tech

A beautiful defense of the common man and woman against a technological elite

“Our republic has never been more hierarchical, more riven by class, more managed by an elite than it is today,” writes Josh Hawley in The Tyranny of Big Tech. Who might that elite be? According to Hawley, it’s not our politicians, our lawyers, our Ivy League graduates, or our Hollywood celebrities. It’s Big Tech – those big names like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Apple, and Google that have embedded themselves in our lives to an almost irreversible degree. Hawley has spent his career as a U.S. Senator, and formerly as Missouri’s Attorney General, holding Big Tech accountable where others don’t dare tread. In investigations, in legislation, and now in this book, Hawley has confronted the antitrust and privacy violations committed by Read More ›

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Female Artist Works on Abstract Oil Painting, Moving Paint Brush Energetically She Creates Modern Masterpiece. Dark Creative Studio where Large Canvas Stands on Easel Illuminated. Low Angle Close-up

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 ›

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3d rendering  of futuristic blue circuit board

Can AI Design AI?: Responding to Google’s Latest Tech

Anything can be intelligence if we set the bar low enough

Could a computer design itself? Could it design a bigger and better computer? A team at Google says yes. According to a recent article at NewScientist, Google has begun using AI to design AI. “Engineers at Google have tasked an artificial intelligence with designing faster and more efficient processors – and then used its chip designs to develop the next generation of specialised computers that run the very same type of AI algorithms,” writes Matthew Sparkes. Sparkes continues by explaining Google’s chip design, and introducing the reader to Google’s Anna Goldie, a member of the team at the front of this effort that tasks computers with making better computers. “It is conceivable,” says Sparkes, “that this new AI-designed chip will be used Read More ›

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Woman hand using smart phone with lock icon graphic at coffee shop. Technology business concept.

Censoring the Censors? Florida’s Anti-Censorship Law

What exactly does the law do, and why is Big Tech sponsoring a lawsuit to halt it?

Originally published by Dr. Karl Stephan at Engineering Ethics On May 24, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill designed to stop social media firms from censoring free speech. At least that’s what the governor’s website claims it does. Two big-tech industry groups, Netchoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), sued the state of Florida in early June over the legislation, which is scheduled to take effect on July 1. What exactly does the law do, and why are organizations such as Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Google sponsoring a lawsuit to halt it? People of certain political persuasions need not look far for motivations to pass such a law. Following the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 of this year, Read More ›