Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagInnovation

Logical Diagrams
Making business plan. Businessperson drawing diagrams. Many graphs and hand drawn diagrams.

Why Impractical Things Like Philosophy Are Actually Quite Useful

Chaitin argues that the human spirit is capable of doing both practical things and impractical things which may have practical consequences later

In last week’s podcast,, “The Chaitin Interview V: Chaitin’s Number,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks continued his conversation with mathematician Gregory Chaitin, best known for Chaitin’s unknowable number. Last time, they looked at how Chaitin’s unknowable number relates to computer pioneer Alan Turing’s vexing halting problem in computer science. This time, they look at the way pure mathematics has a way of being highly practical: It creates a basis for new understanding, leading to technical breakthroughs: This portion begins at 09:50 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Gregory Chaitin: There are always going to be a few of us who like to do practical things. That’s part of my personality too, but there’s also,…

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hand of scientist holding flask with lab glassware in chemical laboratory background, science laboratory research and development concept

A Question Every Scientist Dreads: Has Science Passed the Peak?

Gregory Chaitin worries about the growth of bureaucracy in science: You have to learn from your failures. If you don’t fail, it means you’re not innovating enough

In this week’s podcast, “The Chaitin Interview III: The Changing Landscape for Mathematics,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed mathematician and computer scientist Gregory Chaitin on many things, including whether the great discoveries in science are behind us — not due to lack of creativity or ability on the part of scientists — but to the growing power of corporate and government bureaucracies to stifle research. But then a question arises: Could science, succumbing to the swamp of bureaucracy, be losing that inventive edge? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-126-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This portion begins at 24:56 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Gregory Chaitin: What did an airplane engineers say once in a speech I heard? He said, “In the…

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man hand bulb in nature

Why We Need to Stop Relying On Patents to Measure Innovation

The key to a nation's long-run economic growth is the effect of innovation on productivity, and has little to do with patent activity

Patent databases may be a smoke screen that hides the true issues, problems, and dynamics of innovation behind the illusion that innovation is booming—and that patent activity measures the boom.  We are said to live in a time of remarkable innovation, with the computer/information revolution often compared to the Industrial Revolution in allowing people to produce more while working less. Economists, consultants, and other business gurus are striving mightily to quantify this revolution and to understand its sources and implications. One popular metric is the number of new patents issued each year. For example, the pace of innovation might be gauged by the fact that there were 669,434 US patent applications and 390,499 new patents awarded in 2019, each triple the…

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Communist Party Monument, Pyongyang, North-Korea

Computer Science Explains Why Communism Can’t Work

Successful communism is not only morally and practically flawed, it is mathematically impossible

Communism has been the target of many criticisms. The strongest deal with the mismatch between central planning and individuals’ desires for their lives and with the horrific human rights record of communist nations. Some scholars place the toll in human life due to communism at above 100 million in the 20th century. Those are criticisms of the practicality and ethics of communism. But is it also intrinsically flawed at a fundamental mathematical level? It turns out that the answer is yes. The basic idea behind central planning is this: If the central government makes most decisions that, in a freer society, individuals or small communities would make for themselves, more efficiency will follow—and, as a result, more prosperity. It doesn’t…

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Futuristic Science Fiction Bedroom Interior with Planet Earth View in Space Station, 3D Rendering

When Science Fiction Comes to Life…

Truth is not only stranger than fiction, it sometimes grows out of it

A senior editor at Wired told us a while back that science fiction writer H. G. Wells’s 1914 tale, The World Set Free, formed part of the inspiration for the atomic bomb, exploded over Hiroshima in 1945. … in the novel Wells imagines a new kind of bomb, based on a nuclear chain reaction. In this science fiction story Wells imagines that atomic energy would be discovered in 1933 (20 years in his future), and that the bomb would first explode in 1956. Wikipedia notes, “As fate or coincidence would have it, in reality the physicist Leó Szilárd read the book in 1932, conceived of the idea of nuclear chain reaction in 1933, and filed for patents on it in…

COSM-3104

Tech Entrepreneur Peter Thiel says Silicon Valley is losing its touch

Peter Thiel also compared universities today to the Catholic Church at its worst

About the Big Tech companies, he says, “The story is not that they have done a lot of bad things but that they have not done enough good things. That remains the core challenge of Silicon Valley.”

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If Big Tech Were Spinning Its Wheels, Would We Know?

Not necessarily, says an economics prof who worries about the slowing pace of innovation but not of hype

The slowing Funk refers to is in fundamental innovations like transistors and lasers. The apparent progress often turns out to be in patent applications for a bewildering array of comparatively insignificant mobile phone apps.

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Person's face with eyes obstructed by hands

High Tech Can Help the Blind See and Amputees Feel

It’s not a miracle; the human nervous system can work with electronic information

The electronic devices communicate directly with sensory areas of the brain, bypassing damaged or destroyed eyes and limbs. 

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Skyscrapers in London looking up

What It Really Takes to Build a High-Tech Company, Sell It, and Get Rich

Inventor and entrepreneur Hal Philipp offers a rewarding but cautionary true story

The road to the success that Hal Philipp enjoys today was laced with landmines. When money starts rolling in, entrepreneurs must expect lawsuits. But perseverance and a strong character won the day. 

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McDonald's Drive through saying

McDonald’s, Meet McPathogens

What happens when the drive to automate everything meets the Law of Unintended Consequences?
I have a wager with a good friend that the self-order touch screen kiosks at McDonald’s will not last. The kiosks not only take longer to use, but are annoying. The idea of the kiosk may sound good on paper, but is a hassle in practice. And besides… Read More ›