Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagHuman exceptionalism

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Drone Sunrise in Princeton New Jersey

Princeton Student Develops AI Detector App

Software engineers are finding creative ways to regulate and detect ChatGPT

A 22-year-old student from Princeton, Edward Tian, has designed an app to discern whether text is human or AI generated. The tool, GPTZero, is already garnering interest from potential investors and will come as a sigh of relief to teachers and others who are worried about the advanced abilities of ChatGPT, OpenAI’s new text generator. According to a piece from Fast Company, Tian says his tool measures randomness in sentences (“perplexity”) plus overall randomness (“burstiness”) to calculate the probability that the text was written by ChatGPT. Since tweeting about GPTZero on January 2, Tian says he’s already been approached by VCs wanting to invest and will be developing updated versions soon.” Megan Morrone, Was this written by a robot? These tools help detect AI-generated text (fastcompany.com) Read More ›

Techno adam and God
Disintegrating reaching hands concept illustration in vaporwave style color palette isolated on blue background.

What is Art Without the Human Mind?

AI art tools can wow us with technical skill, but fail to generate meaning

There’s no doubt that tools like OpenAI can create impressive, detailed renderings of images. Type in “Master Yoda riding a musk ox in Taiwan” and you’ll get…something. A friend of mine sent me a two-headed bunny dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi and a few other comic horrors, and I knew he’d been playing around with an AI art tool. But, it doesn’t take much reflection to feel that something important is missing in these artificially generated images. Sure, they’re detailed and colorful, and accurate. You can type in a scene and have it pop up on command. However, what do actual human artists think of these tools, and what do they essentially miss? Artist Peter Mohrbacher gave a balanced assessment of Read More ›

reaching toward chatbot
Chat bot Robot Online Chatting Communication Business Internet Technology Concept

OpenAI Launches Impressive New Chatbot: ChatGPT

The sophisticated AI tool could revolutionize the internet, and come with big cost

Artificial intelligence is making great strides in 2022. A few months ago, the company OpenAI introduced DALL-E, a text-to-image generator, which they made open to the public. Some have raised concerns over the future role of artists and copyright issues considering AI art generators. Does AI pose a threat to human creators? Well, that question just got weightier and more multifaceted. OpenAI just released ChatGPT, what writer Jacob Carpenter calls, “the most advanced, user-friendly chatbot to enter the public domain.” ChatGPT can “write lines of code, pen a college-level essay, author responses in the voice of a pirate, and write a piano piece in Mozart’s style.” Carpenter goes on to point out that some are wondering if the chatbot threatens Read More ›

cursive writing
closeup of old handwriting; vintage paper background

Shakespeare vs. AI: Who Wins?

AI fails to do justice to the full range and depth of human language

I’ve written a fair bit in the last month on the development of AI art tools, but what about language? AI, as you’re probably aware, is not only able to mimic artistic styles. Its developers also want it to generate words, and to all appearances, they are succeeding. If visual artists are in trouble, how are journalists, novelists, and academics implicated in the AI revolution? I have a background in English, literature, and creative writing, so naturally, this AI issue hits a bit closer to home. Suppose an AI program could compose a short story with the prose quality and cohesive style of Ernest Hemingway. Could AI eventually produce news content, thus substituting the human reporter or journalist? As it Read More ›

painting of human eye
“Fluorite” - oil painting. Conceptual abstract picture of the eye. Oil painting in colorful colors. Conceptual abstract closeup of an oil painting and palette knife on canvas.

Human Artists and their AI Copycats

What will happen to actual artists if AI can mimic their styles?

Imagine you’re walking through a world-class art museum, and you come across Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers.” (Let’s assume someone hasn’t already thrown tomato soup on it.) The painting isn’t a replication. It’s not a copy of a copy of a copy. It’s the original canvas and paint, the direct object created by the artist himself, shaped by age, visited by thousands of admirers—it’s “vintage.” You stand there admiring the work of a past genius, and get a sense of its beauty and meaning in a whole new way. There’s something unique in witnessing “the real thing.” Why do people travel worldwide to look at Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” when they can see a digital recreation through a Google search? Or why Read More ›

two human figures art
hope, freedom, life, different, contrast concept, blue sky human with broken human, surreal and fantasy artwork, conceptual art, painting illustration, sadness and depression idea

Making Art Is Uniquely Human

While the architects of AI "art" tools like to think their technology can replace human creativity, the artistic impulse is uniquely human

In my last post, I wrote about a novelist who used a version of the AI art tool known as Stable Diffusion to gather images for a promotional website. She wanted erotic and violent elements in the artwork and found that other AI art tools included “guardrails” limiting access to graphic results. But if these images are disconnected from a human, imaginative process, can we say AI-generated results qualify as creative works? Artificial intelligence doesn’t only challenge our notions of what it means to be human. It also makes us wonder what it means to make art and whether human beings are the only agents capable of creating it. Walter Kirn addressed this question poignantly in a Substack essay.  Kirn Read More ›

dog and human faces
rhodesian ridgeback

Human Exceptionalism is a Central Theme for Novelist Dean Koontz

Bestselling author Dean Koontz talks fiction, human exceptionalism, and transhumanism with Wesley J. Smith in new podcast episode (Part II)

In Part I of this two-part series, we looked at Dean Koontz’s remarks on the purpose of art and the unique role of the novelist in today’s “everything is political” environment. But that’s not all he and Smith discussed on the Humanize Podcast on September 12th. Both had a lot to say about human exceptionalism, authoritarianism, and also…dogs! Koontz spoke about his love for the pups at the end of the episode, but first, discussed how the “animal rights” movement has gone wrong, and how a materialistic worldview can lead to despair.   Smith commented how human exceptionalism is a central theme in Koontz’s novels and asked the reason, to which Koontz responded, “There’s no civilization if we don’t recognize Read More ›

rain red umbrella
October walk in the rain, a young woman with a red umbrella in the autumn city park, autumn look

Computer Prof: You Are Not Computable and Here’s Why Not

In a new book, Baylor University’s Robert J. Marks punctures myths about the superhuman AI that some claim will soon replace us

In a just-released book, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks II explains, as a computer engineering professor at Baylor University, why humans are unique and why artificial intelligence cannot replicate us: ”Emotions that make us human will never be duplicated by a machine,” says Marks. “These include compassion, love, empathy, elation, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, pleasure, pride, excitement, embarrassment, regret, jealousy, grief, hope, and faith. Properly defined, creativity, sentience, and understanding are also on the list. These and other non-algorithmic traits are evidence of non-computable you.” Discovery Institute, “Are Future Humans Doomed To Be Replaced By Artificial Intelligence?” at PR NewsWire (June 21, 2022) Non-Computable You: What You Do That Artificial Intelligence Never Will (Discovery Institute Press, 2022) is Read More ›

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2d illustration Human Male Muscle Body

Discussing Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem

What does it even mean to be aware of something, to be conscious? Why do the vast majority of people only have one consciousness? Will computers ever experience consciousness? On this Bingecast, Dr. Robert J. Marks and Dr. Angus Menuge discuss these questions and more. Show Notes 00:01:36 | Introducing Dr. Angus Menuge 00:07:02 | Near-death experiences 00:10:32 | The Read More ›

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abandoned robot sitting in a puddle

Hyping Artificial Intelligence Hinders Innovation

When AI is equated with human intelligence, innovation suffers. While artificial intelligence can help to improve our world, many people believe the myth that it can reach beyond the limits of its programming. Andrew McDiarmid, senior fellow at Discovery Institute, discusses the limitations and dangers of AI with Erik Larson, author of the new book The Myth of Artificial Intelligence. Read More ›

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Neuron close up

Human Neurons, Brains, Much More Efficient Than Animal Ones

What was formerly thought to be “junk DNA” differs between humans and chimpanzees and plays a role in brain development

What makes humans different should be straightforward, right? We should, for example, have more complex neurons than ferrets and macaques. But we don’t. We have simpler ones: Neurons communicate with each other via electrical impulses, which are produced by ion channels that control the flow of ions such as potassium and sodium. In a surprising new finding, MIT neuroscientists have shown that human neurons have a much smaller number of these channels than expected, compared to the neurons of other mammals. MIT, “A Striking Difference Between Neurons of Humans and Other Mammals” at Neuroscience News (November 10, 2021) The paper requires a subscription. In the most extensive study of its kind, nine other mammals were studied. Larger mammals have larger Read More ›

dog at grave of tom sayer
Tomb of bare-knuckle fighter Tom Sayer on Highgate Cemetery

A Philosopher Simply Invents Animals’ Concept of Death

She demands that we accept her invention so we can “rethink” human exceptionalism, and the “disrespect for the natural world that comes with it”

Last week I talked about the question of whether primate mothers who carry dead infants around understand the concept of death. The scientists conducting the research sounded commendably cautious in the conclusions they drew. Not everyone follows their lead in this. Susana Monsóis, professor of philosophy at UNED (Madrid) and author of La zarigüeya de Schrödinger (Schrödinger’s Possum), “ a book on how animals experience and understand death,” dispenses with all that. Her subtitle is “Having a concept of death, far from being a uniquely human feat, is a fairly common trait in the animal kingdom.” Yet she falls far short of demonstrating that. Her essay is a classic on what happens when we seek simply to amass support for Read More ›

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Human intelligence vs artificial intelligence. Face to face. Duel of views. Animated illustration on a school blackboard.

Robert J. Marks: There’s One Thing Only Humans Can Do

This week, we listen to Robert J. Marks speaking at the launch of the Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence in Dallas, Texas. Robert J. Marks is the Director of the Bradley Center and Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Baylor University. In a panel discussion at the 2019 launch of the Bradley Center, Dr. Marks Read More ›

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dachsund dog portrait studio looking up.

Do Any Dogs Go To Heaven? If So, Why?

Neuroscientist Christof Koch was troubled as a child by the Catholic tradition that dogs like his beloved Purzel did not go to heaven

In recent articles, we’ve discussed well-known neuroscientist Christof Koch’s Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of consciousness which, as he acknowledges, takes a panpsychist (everything is conscious to some degree) approach to the mind. He has explained his reasoning at MIT Press Reader: Materialists must see human consciousness as an illusion — but then whose illusion is it? Panpsychism allows humans to have actual consciousness but, he says, “experience may not even be restricted to biological entities but might extend to non-evolved physical systems previously assumed to be mindless — a pleasing and parsimonious conclusion about the makeup of the universe.” His perspective is gaining popularity in science. One, perhaps unexpected, factor that he mentions as shaping his overall approach was youthful Read More ›

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Robot Playing Chess

Chicken Little AI Dystopians: Is the Sky Really Falling?

Futurist claims about human-destroying superintelligence are uninformed and irresponsible

The article “How an Artificial Superintelligence Might Actually Destroy Humanity” is one of the most irresponsible pieces about AI I have read in the last five years. The author, transhumanist George Dvorsky, builds his argument on a foundation of easily popped balloons. AI is and will remain a tool. Computers can crunch numbers faster than you or me. Alexa saves a lot of time looking up results on the web or playing a selected tune from Spotify. A car – even a bicycle – can go a lot faster than I can run. AI is a tool like fire or electricity used to enhance human performance and improve lifestyles. Like fire and electricity, AI can be used for evil or Read More ›

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Nairobi, Kenya : Ranger feeding orphaned baby elephant in David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust conservation center

There Is No Escape From Human Exceptionalism

Author Melanie Challenger thinks we should embrace our true animal nature. But that’s impossible

Melanie Challenger, author of How to Be Animal (2021) thinks we would be less messed up if we could just accept our animal nature. She writes at Aeon, “Human exceptionalism is dead: for the sake of our own happiness and the planet we should embrace our true animal nature.” Further, Today, our thinking has shifted along with scientific evidence, incorporating the genetic insights of the past century. We now know we’re animals, related to all other life on our planet. We’ve also learned much about cognition, including the uneasy separation between instinct and intention, and the investment of the whole body in thought and action. As such, we might expect attitudes to have changed. But that isn’t the case. We Read More ›

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Brain doodle illustration with textures

Your Mind vs. Your Brain: Ten Things To Know

Although we are only beginning to understand the workings of the brain, it clearly isn't the same thing as the mind

Here are some reasons why they aren’t really the same: 1. Is the human brain unique in some way? Yes, but not so much in its structure as in the things we do with it. For example, the human, mouse, and fly brains all use the same basic mechanisms, which is a bit of a puzzle, considering the different things we do with our brains. The human brain is bigger than most. But then lemurs performed as well as chimps on the primate cognitive test battery (a primate intelligence test) and lemurs only have brains that are 1/200th the size of chimps’ brains. So, what we humans are doing differently from lemurs and chimps doesn’t depend wholly on brain size Read More ›

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Pair of ravens in courtship. Corvus corax

Why Does Science Embrace the “Talking Animals” Myth?

Many birds are quite smart but why do some researchers imply that they think like people?

In recent years, studies have confirmed a widespread cultural intuition that some birds, particularly corvids like crows and ravens, are “smart.” They show considerable problem-solving skills. Thus, they loom large in mythology as messengers and tricksters. For example, the Norse king of the gods (pictured) had two ravens as advisors. Oddly enough, science today retains the mythology and makes a curious use of it: New discoveries about the specifics of corvid brain organization and intelligence are framed as demonstrating that humans do not really have as exceptional thinking ability as we suppose: Research unveiled on Thursday in Science finds that crows know what they know and can ponder the content of their own minds, a manifestation of higher intelligence and Read More ›

Bottlenose Dolphin NASA public domain

Dolphinese: The Idea That Animals Think As We Do Dies Hard

But first it can lead us down strange paths
Down one of them, some researchers met a dolphin. Unfortunately for the dolphin. Read More ›
Herd of African elephants in National Park, Uganda

Elephants Who Fly — or Become “Persons” — Are Magic

Okay, it's impossible. But then why do thinkers who disbelieve the one believe the other?

For decades, researchers were transfixed with the idea of humanizing great apes by raising them among humans and teaching them language. Emerging from the ruins and recriminations of the collapse, philosophy prof Don Ross has a new idea: Let’s start with elephants instead.

Read More ›