Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

TagNatural Intelligence

Herd of African elephants in National Park, Uganda

Elephants Who Fly — or Become “Persons” — Are Magic

Okay, it's impossible. But then why do thinkers who disbelieve the one believe the other?

For decades, researchers were transfixed with the idea of humanizing great apes by raising them among humans and teaching them language. Emerging from the ruins and recriminations of the collapse, philosophy prof Don Ross has a new idea: Let’s start with elephants instead.

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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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Researchers: Deep Learning Vision Is Very Different from Human Vision

Mistaking a teapot shape for a golf ball, due to surface features, is one striking example from a recent open-access paper
The networks did “a poor job of identifying such items as a butterfly, an airplane and a banana,” according to the researchers. The explanation they propose is that “Humans see the entire object, while the artificial intelligence networks identify fragments of the object.” Read More ›
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Man in a maze

Has Neuroscience Disproved Thinking?

A philosopher argues that Nobel Prize-winning research shows that the theory of mind is just another illusion, useful for survival and success
We've all seen this sort of argument before in many other guises. It is commonly called “reductionism.” The reductionist claims that, because an object can be construed as made up of parts, the object is just the parts. It is like saying that because an article like this one is constructed from letters of the alphabet, the article is only rows of letters. Read More ›
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Leaves of a maple tree

Can Plants Be as Smart as Animals?

Seeking to thrive and grow, plants communicate extensively, without a mind or a brain

None of the plants' extensive "social life" requires reason, emotion, value systems, mind, consciousness, or a sense of self. It requires only that the plant, like an animal, seek to continue its highly organized existence. But plants' ability to process information for that purpose gives pause for thought.  

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A green lizard eyeing the camera

Yes, Even Lizards Can Be Smart

If you catch them at the right time. But can we give machines what the lizard has by nature?
What is it that we want machines to be and do under our guidance that these—often seemingly strange—life forms are and do spontaneously? The life forms do those things to stay alive. Does it matter then that machines are not alive? Read More ›
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Crows Can Be as Smart as Apes

But they have quite different brains. The intelligence doesn't seem to reside in the details of the mechanism
Studying animals' intelligence has taught us many things. But in some ways, it has deepened the mystery of intelligence. Read More ›
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Will AI triumph?

Will that phone end up smarter than your kid?
If so, it might not happen in quite the way we are told to fear. U.S. kids spend more than two hours a day looking at screens "perform worse on memory, language and thinking tests than kids who spend less time in front of a device. Read More ›
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Screenwriters’ Jobs Are Not Threatened by AI

Unless the public starts preferring mishmash to creativity

An AI-generated film is not an altogether new idea. Rule-based expert systems were used to write short plays over a half century ago, in the early 1960's. Then, as now, don’t expect creativity. That is not what AI does.

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Cropped shot of call center operator in headset working and talking with client

Why machines can’t think as we do

As philosopher Michael Polanyi noted, much that we know is hard to codify or automate
Human life is full of these challenges. Some knowledge simply cannot be conveyed—or understood or accepted—in a propositional form. For example, a nurse counselor may see clearly that her elderly post-operative patient would thrive better in a retirement home. But she cannot just tell him so. Read More ›