Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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Oumuamua is a mildly active comet, and the first interstellar object detected passing through the Solar System.

Astrobiologist Cautions Against Jumping the Gun in Spotting ET

Scientists he says, are cautious with good reason. There are many weird natural phenomena like Oumuamua out there.

At Nautilus, astrophysicist (and astrobiologist) Caleb A. Scharf offers some sobering reflections on the diligent search for extraterrestrial intelligences (ET) in recent decades: Despite this effort, there has been no evidence to date of extraterrestrial life. But that lack of evidence is not because the scientific enterprise is uniformly conservative, rigid, and close-minded, as implied by [astronomer Avi] Loeb and uncritically echoed by some columnists. It’s because no discovery or event has risen to the level where it is inexplicable in any other way. Could greater funding and support change that story? Perhaps, but the same could be said for almost any other ambitious scientific enterprise, and the answer cannot be known beforehand. Caleb Scharf, “The Alien-Haunted World” at Nautilus…

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Inside an old Silo

Robert J. Marks On AI Evolutionary Computing (Part III)

Can artificial intelligence algorithms prove Darwinian evolution? Why won’t some scientists admit the design inherent in evolutionary computing? Do random processes disprove intelligent design? Dr. Michael Egnor discusses evolutionary computing, the no free lunch theorem, and the role of purpose in chance with Dr. Robert J. Marks. Show Notes 00:41 | Introducing Dr. Robert J. Marks 01:10 | The role…

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Code on computer monitor

Robert J. Marks on Information and AI (Part I)

What is information? How is information created? Will artificial intelligence ever be creative? Dr. Michael Egnor discusses information theory, correlations, and creative artificial intelligence with Dr. Robert J. Marks. Show Notes 00:27 | Introducing Dr. Robert J. Marks 01:14 | What is information? 06:44 | Exact representations of data 08:29 | A system with minimal information 09:27 | Information in…

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Cat looking to little gerbil mouse on the table. Concept of prey, food, pest.

Can We Find Purpose in a Universe With No Underlying Purpose?

That’s the ambitious goal of a prominent science writer

British science writer Philip Ball offers us a guide to a very interesting project: an attempt to “naturalize” the idea of agency, that is, make the desire to do things—the mouse’s desire to escape the cat— explainable from a fully materialist perspective. That’s much harder than it seems. Rocks don’t desire anything. So we can’t just start from the bottom. It’s also not enough to say that the mouse wants to avoid getting killed. That’s true but it doesn’t really explain anything. For example, a person looks both ways before crossing the street to avoid getting run over. But, by itself, that doesn’t explain why she tries to avoid getting run over. One must factor in her memory, background knowledge,…

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Concept of

Do We Really Have Free Will? Four Things to Know

Free will makes more sense of our world than determinism and science certainly allows for it

Free will is a contentious topic in science these days. Theoretical physicists weigh in sharply on one side or the other. Just this month, based on quantum mechanics, mathematician Tim Andersen says maybe and theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder says no. Based on cosmology, the study of our universe, physicist George Ellis said yes last June. With free will, as with consciousness, we don’t fully understand what’s involved. All insights from science are partial so we can’t look to science for a definitive answer. But maybe science can offer some hints. Here are four that might be helpful: 1.Has psychology shown that free will does not really exist? Psychological research on free will has supported the concept of free will but…

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Tank gun on Red square in Moscow on background of St. Basil's Cathedral. Concept for russian military and weapons

AI Development in Russia — Part 2

What is happening in Russia right now with regards to military development of artificial intelligence? Samuel Bendett and Robert J. Marks discuss Russian military development of AI, academia, and autonomous weapons. Show Notes 00:46 | Introducing Samuel Bendett, advisor with the CNA Adversary Analysis Group 01:17 | How does the Russian military define artificial intelligence? 03:20 | Deepfakes 04:30 |…

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toothpick

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…

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Coronavirus disease COVID-19 infection 3D medical illustration. Floating China pathogen respiratory influenza covid virus cells. Dangerous asian ncov corona virus, dna, pandemic risk background design

COVID-19: How 900 Bytes Changed the World

Human biology is so finely tuned that less than a kilobyte of information can stop the world. Robert J. Marks and Dr. Daniel Andrés Díaz-Pachón discuss COVID-19, DNA, and information. Show Notes 01:09 | Introducing Dr. Daniel Andrés Díaz-Pachón, Research Assistant Professor in the Division of Biostatistics at the University of Miami and Senior Researcher at the Evolutionary Informatics Lab…

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Beyond the Google Search

Today's search technology may provide us with an "answer" we did not work for and won't remember

While a search engine or online encyclopedia may be a convenient first resort, you should see it as merely a starting point. From there, you can turn to other resources, either online or in person.

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Research Showing That Fake News Easily Fools Us Collapses

A recent paper claiming that low-quality news (“fake news”) spreads as quickly on social media as accurate news has been retracted by its authors.
A team from the Shanghai Institute of Technology sought to study whether accuracy made any difference to whether a post goes viral on social media. They cited a concern about “the digital misinformation that threatens our democracy.” Read More ›
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Colorful toothpicks or pick-up sticks

How Can We Measure Meaningful Information?

Neither randomness nor order alone creates meaning. So how can we identify communications?
Dropping a handful of toothpicks on the table seems to produce a different sort of pattern than spelling out a word with toothpicks. Surprisingly, this intuitive distinction is harder to make in math and the sciences. Algorithmic specified complexity (ASC) enables us to distinguish them. Read More ›