Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagMarvin Minsky

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Beautiful Young Woman Looking Through Binoculars At The Sea On A Bright Sunny Day

Peering Into the Future with Nikola Danaylov

In a new online series, futurist Danaylov shares both wisdom and folly about future expectations for science and technology

Is our future determined? And if so, what is it determined by? These are the questions Nikola Danaylov is discussing at Singularity Weblog, an online format the futurist author and podcaster uses for addressing topics of science, technology, humanity, and the future. In his latest series, Danaylov – who playfully addresses himself as “Socrates” – posits that humanity’s future is, indeed, determined – determined by the stories we tell ourselves.  Before we jump into his fascinating analyses, let’s take a look at Danaylov himself to understand the worldview from which he writes. Danaylov is a futurist author and speaker based in Toronto, Canada. As a futurist, Danaylov is optimistic about the future of technology and the possibility of an age…

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Cute little happy child girl playing piano in a light room. Selective focus, noise effect

Jay Richards: Creative Freedom, Not Robots, Is The Future Of Work

In an information economy with the rise of artificial intelligence and robots, are humans being pushed to the margins of the workforce? Are we to look forward to a hopeful future, or a dark one? Listen in to hear Jay Richards provide his own insight on the development of technology and its role in the workplace, and how he envisions…

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Artificial intelligence, connections and nucleus in concept of interconnected neurons. Abstract background with binary numbers, neural network and cloud computing.

How Marvin Minsky Inspired Artificial Neural Networks

And what Minsky said when a scientist seeking to further develop the field finally met him

Dr. Paul Werbos calls it “a soap opera you wouldn’t believe”: the story of how a young Werbos was inspired by the pioneering computer scientist to pursue the development of artificial neural networks, and how Minsky later could not support the effort for disbelief that there was a solution to its many problems. In this week’s podcast, Dr. Robert J. Marks interviewed Dr. Paul Werbos, famous for his 1974 dissertation which proposed training artificial neural networks through the use of a backpropagation of errors. The two discuss Werbos’s journey in the development of artificial neural networks and the role Marvin Minsky played throughout. This portion begins at 04:25. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks:…

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Tiny people betwixt logic board

Why Did a Prominent Science Writer Come To Doubt the AI Takeover?

John Horgan’s endorsement of Erik J. Larson’s new book critiquing AI claims stems from considerable experience covering the industry for science publications

At first, science writer John Horgan (pictured), author of a number of books including The End of Science (1996), accepted the conventional AI story: When I started writing about science decades ago, artificial intelligence seemed ascendant. IEEE Spectrum, the technology magazine for which I worked, produced a special issue on how AI would transform the world. I edited an article in which computer scientist Frederick Hayes-Roth predicted that AI would soon replace experts in law, medicine, finance and other professions. John Horgan, “Will Artificial Intelligence Ever Live Up to Its Hype?” at Scientific American (December 4, 2020) But that year, 1984, ushered in an AI winter, in which innovation stalled and funding dried up. By 1998, problems like non-recurrent engineering…

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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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Abstract virtual binary code illustration on blurry modern office building background. Big data and coding concept. Multiexposure

The Chaitin Interview V: Chaitin’s Number

Listen in as Robert J. Marks picks the mind of Professor Gregory Chaitin about Chaitin’s number – a number that has been called “mystical and magical”. How does this number work? Why do some people call it “Chaitin’s constant”? What is the usefulness of philosophizing in mathematics? Show Notes 00:27 | Introducing Gregory Chaitin and Chaitin’s number 01:32 | Chaitin’s…

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Real Php code developing screen. Programing workflow abstract algorithm concept. Lines of Php code visible under magnifying lens.

How did Ray Solomonoff Kickstart Algorithmic Information Theory?

He started off the long pursuit of the shortest effective string of information that describes an object

In last week’s podcast,, “The Chaitin Interview II: Defining Randomness,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed mathematician and computer scientist Gregory Chaitin on how best to describe true randomness but also on what he recalls of Ray Solomonoff (1926–2009), described in his obit as the “Founding Father of algorithmic information theory.” https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-125-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This portion begins at 10:30 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Gregory Chaitin (pictured): Ray Solomonoff was interested in prediction but I was more interested in looking at a given string of bits and asking, does it have structure or not, and the incompleteness results regarding this question. For example, most strings of bits have no structure, according to this definition. They…

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Futuristic design of an elevator cabin with mirrors with neon illumination and metal panels. Modern elevator design. Reflection to infinity.

The Infinity Mirror Trap: Part 2: The Thought Determinism Paradox

The infinity mirror experience shows that thought determinism cannot explain all human thoughts

In Part 1 of this series, we saw how the belief that “every human thought is an illusion” proves empty and powerless when trying to account for the infinity mirror experience. Part 2 here puts another view held widely by science-trained people, materialism, to the same mirror test. Materialism is the view that everything we observe results from the interplay of matter and energy. Under materialism, each human’s every thought is produced by electrochemical events in the brain. As Marvin Minsky, an artificial intelligence pioneer, wrote in Society of Mind (1988), “Everything, including that which happens in our brains, depends on these and only on these: A set of fixed, deterministic laws and a purely random set of accidents.” Philosopher…

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Artificial intelligence and future technologies. Mixed media

#10: Big AI Claims Fail To Work Outside Lab

A recent article in Scientific American makes clear that grand claims are often not followed up with great achievements

As the year winds down, our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviews fellow computer nerds (our Brain Trust) Jonathan Bartlett and Eric Holloway about 12 overhyped AI concepts of the past year. Hey, as we like to say, great stuff happened in AI this year. But well, lots of “stuff” happened too and it’s time to have some fun! So here’s #10: Replication problems tarnish the image of rapid AI progress: #10 starts at about 12:44 A partial transcript and Show Notes follow, along with Additional Resources and the entire transcript. Robert J. Marks: # 10, Will artificial intelligence ever live up to its hype? The subtitle to the article with that name in this month’s Scientific American…