Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagNick Bostrom

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Alien mothership UFO nearing Earth

Could Advanced Aliens Have Fine-Tuned Earth for Life?

That’s a surprisingly popular thesis, considering how hard it is to account for life without assuming a creator

Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been doing a series of podcasts with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer, and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz in connection with a recent co-authored paper on the fine-tuning of the universe for life in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. In the first portion of this episode, podcast 153, “Why is there fine-tuning everywhere?” they looked at whether fine tuning of the universe for life can be accounted for by the theory that advanced life forms seeded life throughout the universe (directed panspermia). Surprisingly, perhaps, the theory is considered at least plausible, due to the difficulty of accounting for the existence of life otherwise. As Marks and his guests noted, great scientists such…

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open eye in space

Researchers: The Universe Simulated Itself Into Existence

A recent physics journal paper proposes self-simulation as the origin of the universe, using a quantum gravity model

Yesterday, we looked at “Untitled Earth Sim 64,” a science fiction comedy based on the idea that Earth is a messed up simulation — created by entities that are in themselves simulations. And maybe their simulators were in turn simulated… And so forth. The problem is, where’s the original? Surprisingly, perhaps, there is a physics theory that offers an answer: The universe simulated itself: A new hypothesis says the universe self-simulates itself in a “strange loop”. A paper from the Quantum Gravity Research institute proposes there is an underlying panconsciousness. The work looks to unify insight from quantum mechanics with a non-materialistic perspective. How real are you? What if everything you are, everything you know, all the people in your…

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Technology and engineering concept

Artificial Intelligence: Unseating the Inevitability Narrative

World-class chess, Go, and Jeopardy-playing programs are impressive, but they prove nothing about whether computers can be made to achieve AGI

Back in 1998, I moderated a discussion at which Ray Kurzweil gave listeners a preview of his then forthcoming book The Age of Spiritual Machines, in which he described how machines were poised to match and then exceed human cognition, a theme he doubled down on in subsequent books (such as The Singularity Is Near and How to Create a Mind). For Kurzweil, it is inevitable that machines will match and then exceed us: Moore’s Law guarantees that machines will attain the needed computational power to simulate our brains, after which the challenge will be for us to keep pace with machines..  Kurzweil’s respondents at the discussion were John Searle, Thomas Ray, and Michael Denton, and they were all to varying degrees critical of his strong…

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Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover is exploring surface of Mars. Perseverance rover Mission Mars exploration of red planet. Space exploration, science concept. .Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

Why Some Experts Hope We DON’T Find Life on Mars

Many thinkers worry about what will happen if the extraterrestrials land. But will they feel worse if we never find ET?

Recently, prominent theoretical physicist Michio Kaku (pictured) told media that reaching out to extraterrestrials is a “terrible idea.” Kaku, author of The God Equation: The Quest for a Theory of Everything (2021). So long SETI, after all these years? Well, not quite. He explains, Soon we’ll have the Webb telescope up in orbit and we’ll have thousands of planets to look at, and that’s why I think the chances are quite high that we may make contact with an alien civilisation. There are some colleagues of mine that believe we should reach out to them. I think that’s a terrible idea. We all know what happened to Montezuma when he met Cortés in Mexico so many hundreds of years ago.…

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Theoretical Physicist Argues, the Sim Universe Is Pseudoscience

It’s a lot of fun in science fiction and some scitech celebs buy in. But Sabine Hossenfelder and others explain why it’s fiction

Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder does not like the notion that we are living in a giant computer sim. Elon Musk likes it (“Elon Musk says there’s a ‘one in billions’ chance reality is not a simulation”) and so does Neil deGrasse Tyson (“Neil deGrasse Tyson says it’s ‘very likely’ the universe is a simulation”). Philosopher of science Nick Bostrom advanced that view in a seminal 2003 paper in Philosophical Quarterly. Former Astronomer Royal Martin Rees is sympathetic to it. Some call it the Planetarium hypothesis, when it is cited as a reason we do not see intelligent extraterrestrials. One source offers “15 irrefutable reasons” why, like Neo in The Matrix (1999), we might be living in a universe that is…

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Ring fire in black

AI profs: Beware “Black Ball” Tech That Could Destroy the Planet

Oxford Future of Humanity researchers contemplate a technology with immense destructive powers that is easy to access and use

Nick Bostrom and Matthew van der Merwe of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute offer a sticky question: What if we invented a “black ball” technology, one that destroyed human civilization? In the wake of Hiroshima, many people predicted that nuclear technologies would destroy the world. Albert Einstein is purported to have said, “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” However, say Bostrom and van der Merwe, to make nuclear technology work for you, you need to be a nuclear physicist. One might add that radioactive materials also “send messages.” Figuring out what untrusted actors are doing with nukes did not prove to be…

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Artificial Intelligence self aware android robots patrolling a destroyed city. 3d rendering

Did the Smart Machines Destroy the Aliens Who Invented Them?

A smart deadly weapon could well decide to do without its inventor and, lacking moral guidance, destroy everything in sight
The Beserker hypothesis suggests that we haven’t heard from alien civilizations because they’ve been wiped out by their own killer robots. Well, if robotics ran amok… Read More ›
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Stunning jar with piece of forest, save the earth concept

How Can We Be Sure We Are Not Just An ET’s Simulation?

A number of books and films are based on the Planetarium Hypothesis. Should we believe it?

Science and science fiction writer Matt Williams has been writing a series at Universe Today on why the extraterrestrial intelligences that many believe must exist in our universe never show up. Last week, we looked at the Prime Directive hypothesis (The Directive is, don’t interfere in the evolution of alien societies, even if you have good intentions.”) This week, let’s look at the Planetarium hypothesis, the sixth in his series: “humanity is in a simulation, and the aliens are the ones running it! In order to ensure that human beings do not become aware of this fact, they ensure that the simulation presents us with a “Great Silence” whenever we look out and listen to the depths of space.” (August…

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Round robot's eye

Exclusive!: John Lennox Answers Our Questions About AI in 2084

In his new book, 2084, the Oxford mathematician doubts that AI, now or then, will out-think humans. Our real worry is how they will be used. Read More ›
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The Real Threat AI Poses Is the “I” That Controls It

As AI becomes a part of everyday life, the science fiction glow fades; the constant high-tech surveillance intensifies

Pundits like Nick Bostrom and Ray Kurzweil worry that smart AI will rule us. But, as the Carnegie Index shows, conventional dictators using conventional AI for mass surveillance are a growing real-world problem while smart AI remains science fiction.

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