Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagHuman exceptionalism

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Reflection of mountain range in lake, Grand Teton National Park

Should We Give Nature “Rights”?

The nature rights movement is more ideological than rational

The major science journals are growing increasingly hard left politically. The prestigious journal Science, in particular, has swallowed progressive ideology–including supporting the “nature rights” movement. The rights of nature–which include geological features–are generally defined as the right to “exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.” Nature is, of course, not sentient. So, this campaign is really about granting environmental extremists legal standing to enforce their policy desires through litigation as legal guardians serving nature’s best interests. But the movement has a problem. It is clearly ideological rather than rational. So now, three law professors and a biologist writing in Science urge scientists to promote the agenda by giving courts a scientific pretext to enforce nature rights laws, or even, impose the Read More ›

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population of a small planet

Gale Pooley on the Humanize Podcast

Are we really living on a dying planet?

Are we living on a dying planet? Are the doomsday prophecies of scarcity and widespread starvation due to population growth real? It’s the mainstream assumption, parroted by a number of influential voices. But not everything has taken the bait. Dr. Gale L. Pooley, senior fellow at Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth & Poverty and co-author of the groundbreaking 2022 book Superabundance: The Story of Population Growth, Innovation, and Human Flourishing, talked with Wesley J. Smith on the Humanize podcast on his work in economics and the ideas behind the book. Pooley co-wrote Superabundance with Marian Tupy of the Cato Institute. Smith and Pooley enjoyed a conversation pushing back against the widespread pessimism that is inherent in the scarcity narrative. Their Read More ›

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Newborn baby holding mother's hand.

Abortion: Switching Off a Computer?

This is the kind of thinking that results from rejecting the intrinsic moral value of human life

This is the kind of thinking that results from rejecting the intrinsic moral value of human life. Princeton University bioethicist Peter Singer — who is most famous for secularly blessing infanticide — just compared abortion to turning off a computer. He first claims that should an AI ever become “sentient,” turning it off would be akin to killing a being with the highest moral value (which for him, as described below, need not be human). From the Yahoo News story: We asked internationally renowned moral philosopher Professor Peter Singer whether AI should have human rights if it becomes conscious of its own existence. While Professor Singer doesn’t believe the ChatGPT operating system is sentient or self-aware, if this was to change he argues it should be given some moral status. Read More ›

tokyo
Aerial view of Tokyo cityscape with Fuji mountain in Japan.

Novelist Haruki Murakami: Writing Involves Trust

Writing powerful literature is a human endeavor written for a human audience

I just finished a book by the renowned Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami called Novelist as a Vocation. Murakami is the author of 1Q84, Norwegian Wood, and Kafka on the Shore, among many others. As a young novelist myself, I wanted to learn a professional’s thoughts on the trade and also get a sense of his philosophy of writing, which in the age of AI, feels increasingly valuable. Most of the book was composed during or before 2015 but was just published last year, and is basically a compendium of essays on the novel-writing process, how Murakami got started, and the broader literary landscape. Connecting With Readers Murakami’s thoughts on his readership and audience particularly stood out to me. He confesses Read More ›

Daft Punk headset
Illustration of a Futuristic cyber helmet inspired by music group Daft Punk . Cyberspace Augmented Reality. , Generative AI

Daft Punk and Being Human After All

Former member said AI concerns contributed in part to the band's breakup

Legendary electronic pop duo Daft Punk split ways two years ago after decades of collaboration and are esteemed as pioneers in the creative ways they infused their music with cutting edge sonic technology. However, in a recent interview, ex-member Thomas Bangalter said that artificial intelligence contributed in part to the band’s separation. Per a report from Futurism, Bangalter said, We tried to use these machines to express something extremely moving that a machine cannot feel, but a human can. We were always on the side of humanity and not on the side of technology. -NOOR AL-SIBAI, Daft Punk Says They Broke Up Partially Over Fear of AI (futurism.com) The pop duo notoriously dressed up in robotic garb during their musical Read More ›

writing text in floating boxes
Businessman showing online document validation icon, Concepts of practices and policies, company articles of association Terms and Conditions, regulations and legal advice, corporate policy

AI and Human Text: Indistinct?

Here's a mathematical proof that challenges the assumption that AI and human-made text are the same

What is a poor teacher to do? With AI everywhere, how can he reliably detect when his students are having ChatGPT write their papers for them? To address this concern, a number of AI text detector tools have emerged.  But do they work? A recent paper claims that AI generated text is ultimately indistinguishable from human generated text. They illustrate their claim with a couple experiments that fool AI text detectors by simple variations to AI generated text. Then, the authors go on to mathematically prove their big claim that it is ultimately impossible to tell AI text and human text apart. However, the authors make a crucial assumption. Faulty Premises The proof assumes that AI generated text will become closer and closer to Read More ›

hiking
Hiking team people helping each other friend giving a helping hand while climbing up on the mountain rock adventure travel concept of friendship support trust teamwork success.

GPT-4: Signs of Human-Level Intelligence?

Competence and understanding matter just as much if not more than mere "intelligence"

You’ve heard about GPT-3, but how about GPT-4? OpenAI has publicly released the new AI program, and researchers have already claimed that it shows “sparks” of human intelligence, or artificial general intelligence (AGI). Maggie Harrison writes at Futurism, Emphasis on the “sparks.” The researchers are careful in the paper to characterize GPT-4’s prowess as “only a first step towards a series of increasingly generally intelligent systems” rather than fully-hatched, human-level AI. They also repeatedly highlighted the fact that this paper is based on an “early version” of GPT-4, which they studied while it was “still in active development by OpenAI,” and not necessarily the version that’s been wrangled into product-applicable formation. -Maggie Harrison, Microsoft Researchers Claim GPT-4 Is Showing “Sparks” Read More ›

moon
Moon detailed closeup

We Can’t Build a Hut to the Moon

The history of AI is a story of a recurring cycle of hype and disappointment

Once upon a time there live a tribe who lived on the plains. They were an adventurous tribe, constantly wanting to explore. At night they would see the moon drift lazily overhead, and became curious. How could they reach the moon? The moon was obviously higher than their huts. Standing on the highest hut no one could reach the moon. At the same time, standing on the hut got them closer to the moon. So, they decided to amass all their resources and build a gigantic hut. Reason being that if standing on a short hut got them closer to the moon, then standing on a gigantic hut would get them even closer. Eventually the tribe ran out of mud and Read More ›

imagination
Book of Wonders: A Magical Book who makes dreams come true - Digital Art Design, unique illustration concept | Generative AI

What Can’t A.I. Do? Quite a Lot, Actually

NYT columnist David Brooks makes a list of uniquely human skills that students should develop in college

In an increasingly artificial world, how are we to remain human? New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote an opinion article this week seeking to answer that question. Brooks notes some of the benefits of “machine learning,” but also lists some of the characteristics artificial intelligence will forever fail to embody. “A.I. will probably give us fantastic tools that will help us outsource a lot of our current mental work,” he writes. “At the same time, A.I. will force us humans to double down on those talents and skills that only humans possess.” Uniquely Human Traits What are some of these “talents and skills” that people should intentionally develop in the age of A.I.? Brooks says an incoming college student Read More ›

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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 ›

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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 ›

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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 ›