Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

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Abstract extreme close up shot. Beautiful eye colored by a rainbow of colors.
Abstract extreme close up shot. Beautiful eye colored by a rainbow of colors.

Is What We Knew About the Brain All Wrong?

Robert J. Marks and Yuri Danilov discuss what we thought we knew about the brain twenty years ago, and how what we think we know now might change in another twenty? Bringing their conversation to a close, Bob and Yuri also get into the innumerable details of our phenomenally complex human visual system and consider whether our actions are initiated Read More ›

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Neuroplasticity: How Your Brain Never Stops Changing

Your brain is always changing, from death till the moment you die.  Neuroscience calls this change in your brain neuroplasticity. Today Robert J. Marks discusses the brain’s ability to adapt and change throughout our lives with Yuri Danilov. Show Notes 01:00 | Introducing Yuri Danilov, Senior Scientist, Biomedical Engineering Department at the University of Wisconsin–Madison 03:00 | Unmasking and opening Read More ›

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Edward Feser on Neurobabble and Remembering the Right Questions

Edward Feser dismantles many of the simplistic reads of contemporary neuroscience

Michael Egnor hosts a captivating conversation with Edward Feser, Aristotelian, prolific blogger, and philosopher of mind. Neurobabble and pop science dismissals of the mind, final causes, abstract thought, and free will each face Feser’s piercing critique.

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Different types of computers and storage

Is the Human Mind a Computer?

As a software engineer, I'd say we need to be clear what the question is before answering it

Once we understand clearly what a computer is, we will see why consciousness is not a form of computation.

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super brain

Are Lab-Grown Human Brains the Next Big Thing?

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor thinks the hopes for humanly conscious lab-grown brains are faint indeed

“Neural tissue grown in a lab cannot have intentionality unless it has sense organs,” Egnor says, “But such manufactured intentionality can only be about concrete things, not abstract things.”

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The Smartest Phone Is Silent in Class

While academics debate smartphones’ effect on teens, some hard facts begin to emerge
What if we focus on something more easily measurable than emotional well-being?: grades. There seems to be a growing consensus that students get better grades when separated from smartphones in learning environments. Read More ›
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Finger pointing at data behind neon marquee

Science Points To An Immaterial Mind

If one did not start with a materialist bias, materialism would not be invoked as an explanation for a whole range of experiments in neuroscience

There may indeed be material explanations (at least from the perspective of neuroscience) but the simplest and most convincing explanation for the results of many experiments is that abstract thought is an immaterial power, not a material power, of the mind.

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sharp ct scan of the human brain

How Tongue Stimulation Accelerates Brain Healing

The Amazing Clinical Results from Neurostimulation

The human brain can both adapt and heal itself. Can this healing be accelerated without brain surgery? Using stimulation, of all places, to the tongue can result in incredible changes to brain functions. Can this technology help rewire the brain of those with disorders like Multiple Sclerosis and Cerebral Palsy? That’s the topic today on Mind Matters. Show Notes 00:50 Read More ›

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Be Reasonable written in neon on a brick wall

An Atheist Argues Against Reason

And thinks it is the reasonable thing to do

Justin Smith is leading the way to the abandonment of rationality. There’s not a shred of reason in his essay.

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MRI or magnetic resonance image of head and brain scan. Close up view

How the Injured Brain Heals Itself

Our Amazing Neuroplasticity

You get a paper cut and over time your body heals it. The brain can also both adapt and heal itself. How can we facilitate this healing in patients with brain challenges? We address that question today on Mind Matters. Show Notes 01:15 | Introduction 02:25 | Brain Healing and Repair 04:50 | Neuroplasticity 06:00 | Nature of Addiction 07:45 Read More ›

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Human head in silhouette apparently on fire

The Human Brain: Even Basic Facts Are Hotly Contested

Keep that in mind when AI boosters claim that their product will function like a human brain

When we read that “Scientists Are Closer to Making Artificial Brains That Operate Like Ours Do”, we might ask: If career researchers dispute the question of how the brain works at basic levels, how can non-experts be so sure they have replicated it?

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Plasma Ball

Researchers Identify a New Form of Brain Communication

Mouse studies find brain waves that can bypass synapses and gaps, even communicate with severed nerves

Such surprising new findings show that comparisons between a human brain and a computer greatly underestimate the complexity of the brain.

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Neurons cells concept
Conceptual illustration of neuron cells with glowing link knots in abstract dark space, high resolution 3D illustration

Even the axons in our nerve cells are “smart PCs”

Your brain is not a computer, it is billions of them

Contrary to expectations, researchers say, far-flung regions (thousands of cell body widths from their nucleus) can even make independent decisions.

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Human Fetus Week Nine

The Junk Science of the Abortion Lobby

Fetuses not only experience pain but experience it more intensely than do adults
Much of pro-abortion advocacy is science denial—the deliberate misrepresentation of science to advance an ideological agenda. Mary Ziegler, a law professor at Florida State University, wrote a misleading essay on that theme in the New York Times, “Science won’t end this debate” (January 22, 2019). Read More ›
Abstract Looking Into a Kaleidoscope Background Geometric Shapes
Abstract Looking Into a Kaleidoscope Background Geometric Shapes

In One Sense, Consciousness IS an Illusion…

We have no knowledge of the processes of our consciousness, only of the objects of its attention, whether they are physical, emotional, or abstract
When we think, we think about reality, not about the neurological processes by which we connect to reality. It is by keeping this understanding clearly in mind that we escape the solipsism that bedevils modern neuroscience. Read More ›
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Afraid man in tinfoil helmet watches TV, paranoia concept. UFO, conspiracy theory, brain theft protection, phobia

3: With Mind-Reading AI, You Will Never Have Secrets Again!

AI help, not hype, with Robert J. Marks: Did you read about the flap they had to cut out of a volunteer’s skull?

The Daily Mail is the United Kingdom’s second largest circulation daily. A headline from the webpage screams: No more secrets! New mind-reading machine can translate your thoughts and display them as text INSTANTLY! Not a lot of nuance there. The story continues on a tidal wave of hyperbole, • Researchers say they have developed a machine that can translate our thoughts •  The astonishing machine will analyse what you are thinking and display it as text ending with a charitable hope: •  Scientists hope that the machine can be used by people who are unable to speak The reality is that AI can read your mind for a few words repeated often if you have a flap cut out of your skull and Read More ›

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4: Making AI Look More Human Makes It More Human-like!

AI help, not hype, with Robert J. Marks: Technicians can do a lot these days with automated lip-syncs and smiles but what’s behind them?
This summer, some were simply agog over “Sophia, the First Robot Citizen” (“unsettling as it is awe-inspiring”) Read More ›
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How is Human Language Different from Animal Signals?

What do we need from language that we cannot get from signals alone?
Language, which is the rule-based use of abstract designators, is essential for abstract thought because only designators can point to things that have no concrete physical existence. Only human beings think abstractly, and language is what makes abstract thought possible. Read More ›
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AI and the Future of Murder

If I kill you but upload your mind into an android, did I murder you or just modify you?
The sci-fi TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013– ) tackled this question in an episode titled “Self Control”.  Scientist Holden Radcliffe has an android assistant appropriately named Aida (Artificial Intelligence Digital Assistant). Together, they build a virtual world that people could be plugged into and uploaded into, called The Framework. Read More ›
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Quantity vs Quality: Can AI Help Scientists Produce Better Papers?

What happens when scientists simply can't read all their peers' papers and still find time for original research?
Quantity is definitely a solved problem. STM, the “voice of scholarly publishing” estimated in 2015 that roughly 2.5 million science papers are published each year. Some are, admittedly, in predatory or fake journals. But over 2800 journals are assumed to be genuine. Read More ›