Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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isaac newton and the apple
Law of Universal Gravitation education funny concept. Isaac Newton under an apple tree

Blinded by a Defunct Theory

The "interaction problem" is everywhere we look in physics, but the dogma of materialism remains

Materialism. What a weird word. It sounds like a ghost, materializing in front of me. And it is sort of like a ghost, one that has mysteriously taken over the minds of many intelligent people. Because they believe in materialism, these smart people don’t believe in ghosts. Especially the ghost in the machine. The problem is there is no way for the ghost to interact with the machine. This is known as the “mind-body interaction problem”.  The great thing about materialism is at least that theory doesn’t have an interaction problem. Any material thing can interact with any other material thing. Yet there is a deep irony. Let’s explore the idea of materialism to see why. Materialism is the idea that reality only consists of matter. Read More ›

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Memory and brain upgrade

Is The Mind an Illusion?

Perhaps you’ve heard of the “mind-body problem,” but what about the relationship between the mind and the brain? Is the mind just an illusion produced by the brain or is it something totally separate? Robert Marks talks with neurologist Andrew Knox on these topics and more in this week’s Mind Matters podcast episode. Additional Resources

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Top mark on essay

Students Depend on ChatGPT for Final Exams

The new bot will only get better from here, but it won’t help students become better thinkers

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s new artificial intelligence chatbot, has made headlines for over a month now, and for good reason. It’s an advanced bot designed to problem solve. It can “converse” with people on a range of topics. A problem for us to solve now is how to deal with ChatGPT’s invasion into the sphere of education. Students report using ChatGPT on final exams and papers according to a recent write-up from The College Fix. One College of Staten Island student used the bot on both final exams and “got As on both.” He commented that “half the kids in my class used it.” The student also noted that he used the chatbot to complete a multiple-choice exam, on which he got 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 ›

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3d rendering of human  brain on technology background

Neurotheology: Spirituality and the Brain

Neurotheology is the study of the relationship of our religious and spiritual selves and our brains. How can studying our brains give us insight into our minds? Dr. Michael Egnor interviews Dr. Andrew Newberg on neuroscience, methods of studying the brain, and how our minds and brains are related. Show Notes 00:08 | Introducing Andrew Newberg 05:17 | Methods to Read More ›

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silhouette of virtual human on abstract technology 3d illustration

George Gilder: An Economic Genius Talks About Gaming AI

George Gilder talks to Robert J. Marks about his book Gaming AI: Why AI Can’t Think but Can Transform Jobs. Show Notes 00:00:45 | Introducing George Gilder 00:03:30 | Is AI a new demotion of the human race? 00:04:59 | The AI movement 00:06:39 | DeepMind and protein folding 00:11:42 | Code-breaking in World War II 00:13:50 | Interpreting between Read More ›

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Electrocardiogram in hospital surgery operating emergency room showing patient heart rate with blur team of surgeons background

Why Some Scientists Think Consciousness Persists After Death

We should not assume that pepole who are near death do not know what we are saying

A very significant change that happened in the last century or so has been the ability of science professionals to see what happens when people are thinking, especially under traumatic conditions. It was not a good moment for materialist theories. Here is one finding (there are many others): Death is a process, usually, not simply an event. Consciousness can persists after clinical death. A more accurate way of putting things might be that the brain is able to host consciousness for a short period after clinical death. Some notes on recent findings: The short answer is, probably, yes: Recent studies have shown that animals experience a surge in brain activity in the minutes after death. And people in the first Read More ›

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Beautiful night sky, the Milky Way, moon and the trees. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

“If Nobody Looks at the Moon, Does It Exist?” and Other Metaphysical Questions

If no one is looking at the moon, does it exist? Why has materialism been around for so long? Will computers ever be conscious? What happens to our consciousness after we die? Bernardo Kastrup tackles these questions and more with Michael Egnor in another bingecast! Show Notes 0:00:28 | Introducing Dr. Bernardo Kastrup 0:01:22 | How quantum mechanics points to Read More ›

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X-ray of the head and brain of a person

Bingecast: Michael Egnor on the Human Brain

In this Bingecast episode, Dr. Robert J. Marks and Dr. Michael Egnor explore the human brain and its relationship to the mind. Is the mind an emergent property of the brain? Is there neurological evidence for the soul? What have brain experiments taught us about free will and the human person? Can you still think in a coma? Show Notes Read More ›

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Double multiply exposure abstract portrait of a dreamy cute young woman face with galaxy universe space inside head. Human spirit, astronomy, life zen concept Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

How Do We Know We Are Not Just Physical Bodies?

The mind–body problem is one of the most difficult issues in modern philosophy

In this week’s podcast, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviews Concordia University philosopher Angus Menuge on the notoriously difficult mind–body problem. Dr. Marks asks, “Is there a part of you that is not physical? Are we meat puppets limited to scientific analysis described totally by the laws of nature? “ That’s the mind–body problem! It’s more complex today because some claim we will build computers that have minds like humans (but not bodies like humans). But first, how do we know we are not just bodies? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-133-Angus-Menuge.mp3 This portion begins at 04:06 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Angus Menuge (pictured): Well, the real question is how two such different realms can relate. If Read More ›

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Woman experiencing sad emotions and evaluate their emotions from the side. Emotional Intelligence Concept

Neuroscientist: We Are Closing In On the Secret of Self-Awareness

But then he turns around and admits that we are frustratingly far from understanding how it all works. His frustration is understandable.

Cognitive neuroscientist Stephen M. Fleming, author of Know Thyself: The Science of Self-Awareness (2021), offers an excerpt at Slate in which he implies that we have made some headway in understanding self-awareness. Size alone is not the key to intellectual capacity, he says, but rather the “brain soup,” the number of neurons that can be packed into the brain. Primates of all types (monkeys, apes, and humans) are much more efficient at packing neurons into the brain than rodents are: “Regardless of their position on the tree, it seems that primates are evolutionary outliers—but, relative to other primates, humans are not.” He points to a portion of the prefrontal cortex, the “association cortex” which is “particularly well-developed” in humans, relative Read More ›

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X-ray.

Why a “Budding” Neuroscientist Is Skeptical of Brain Scans

After reading her perceptive essay about the problems in fMRI imaging in neuroscience, I’m sad that a gifted student has doubts about a career in the field

Kelsey Ichikawa has just published a superb essay about the pitfalls of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the brain. Ms. Ichikawa (pictured), who describes herself as a ”budding” neuroscientist who graduated last year from Harvard, discusses the snares into which misinterpretation can lead us. fMRI brain scanning is a relatively new technology in which researchers and clinicians use magnetic resonance images (MRI) of the brain to detect brain activity almost as it happens. The technique is widely used, both for clinical care of patients (neurosurgeons use it to map sensitive parts of the brain prior to surgery) and for research purposes. A major thrust of neuroscience research in the last couple of decades has been the use of fMRI Read More ›

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Near death experience

Physician Explains Why He Takes Near-Death Experiences Seriously

Near-death experiences don’t fit easily into traditional science categories because they occur — often with life-changing effects — when the brain is damaged or unconscious

Health and science writer Markham Heid recounts a story from psychiatrist Bruce Greyson’s book After (2021) that typifies the near-death experiences (NDEs) that have excited research interest: The truck driver’s story sounded far-fetched. The man claimed that in the middle of his quadruple bypass heart surgery — during which he was fully anesthetized and his eyes were taped shut — he had “come to” and found that he was looking down at his own body and the doctors preparing to operate on it. He described the scene in detail, and he recalled that his surgeon had waved his elbows in the air as if he were mimicking a bird flapping its wings. Later, when asked about his patient’s peculiar account, Read More ›

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Psychologist: Consciousness Is Not a Thing But a Point of View

Mark Solms attempts to explain consciousness in his new book, Hidden Spring

Anyone who thinks about consciousness soon realizes that it is a Hard Problem. It means being a subject of experience, rather than an object to which experiences happen. A dog has consciousness. He yelps when in pain. But a rock does not care about becoming sand. In an interesting article in Psychology Today, neuropsychologist Mark Solms outlines some thoughts from a book he has written on the subject, The Hidden Spring: A Journey to the Source of Consciousness (Norton, 2021): Physiological processes do not produce consciousness in the sense that the liver produces bile. Consciousness is not a thing but rather a point of view. What we perceive objectively as physiological processes in the brain we perceive subjectively as conscious Read More ›

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A girl in a hat on top of a hill in silence and loneliness admires the calm natural landscape and balloons.

Why Consciousness Shows That Materialism Is False

The mind refutes materialism in a rather straightforward way

My friend and colleague Bill Dembski, a leading advocate of intelligent design of the universe and life forms, has done a superb short interview with Robert Lawrence Kuhn on Closer to Truth. Bill takes a position that will surprise many fellow Christians—he doesn’t believe that consciousness represents an insurmountable challenge to materialism: Bill makes the point that much of the popular argument hinges on shifting meanings of “materialism” and “consciousness.” By contrast, he argues, the design inference in biology is a much more effective challenge to materialism. I agree that design in nature is an effective challenge to materialism. But I also believe that the mind refutes materialism in a rather straightforward way—and in much the same way that evidence Read More ›

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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, Read More ›

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Cell abstract concept. Microorganisms under microscope

Are Our Minds Just an Extension of the Minds of Our Cells?

A prominent philosopher and a well-known biologist make the case, offering an illustration

Naturalism, the idea that physical nature is all there is, can lead us down some strange paths. In the words of prominent philosopher Daniel Dennett and prominent biologist Michael Levin, both of Tufts University, the road to “biology’s next great horizon” is the attempt to “understand cells, tissues and organisms as agents with agendas (even if unthinking ones).” They think that the principle of natural selection acting on random mutations can create everything, including minds: Thanks to Charles Darwin, biology doesn’t ever have to invoke an ‘intelligent designer’ who created all those mechanisms. Evolution by natural selection has done – and is still doing – all that refining and focusing and differentiating work. We’re all just physical mechanisms made of Read More ›

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Liquid Nitrogen bank containing suspension of stem cells. Cell culture for the biomedical diagnostic

Can We Make Brains in a Dish? Can We Make MINDS in a Dish?

Experiments with brain organoids have left many wondering whether we should be concerned about creating brains-in-a-dish

In a recent report, Nature addressed several studies on disembodied brains grown in the lab. One of those studies, published last year by Alysson Muotri of the University of California, San Diego, showed that brain organoids (organized clusters of brain cells) displayed electrical signals reminiscent of a twenty-five-week-old pre-term baby. the electrical activity continued for several months until the experiment was eventually stopped. Experiments with such brain organoids have left many wondering whether we should be concerned about creating brains-in-a-dish. Organoids, such as those made of kidney or liver cells, have been used to study drug development and disease. They are made either from embryonic stem cells—an ethically problematic source because they involve the destruction of an embryo—or induced pluripotent Read More ›

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Professional Japanese Development Engineer is Testing an Artificial Intelligence Interface by Playing Chess with a Futuristic Robotic Arm. They are in a High Tech Modern Research Laboratory.

George Gilder on Gaming AI

AI is good at winning games. But how does this (and other) accomplishments translate to applications in the real world? George Gilder and Robert J. Marks discuss artificial intelligence, games, and George Gilder’s new book Gaming AI: Why AI Can’t Think but Can Transform Jobs (which you can get for free here). Show Notes 00:35 | Introducing George Gilder 02:12 Read More ›

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Blurred Thinking

How Can You Talk to Yourself?

If your mind is one, how can it talk to itself? What will artificial intelligence be like in the future. Dr. Geoffrey Simmons and Dr. Robert J. Marks discuss the mind, artificial intelligence, and Dr. Simmons’ book Are We Here to Re-Create Ourselves?: The Convergence of Designs. Show Notes 00:26 | Introducing Dr. Geoffrey Simmons 01:07 | Thinking and problem-solving Read More ›