Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis


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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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Chaitin’s Discovery of a Way of Describing True Randomness

He found that concepts from computer programming worked well because, if the data is not random, the program should be smaller than the data

In this week’s podcast, “The Chaitin Interview II: Defining Randomness,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks interviewed mathematician and computer scientist Gregory Chaitin on randomness. It’s a subject on which Chaitin has thought deeply since his teenage years (!), when he published a journal paper on the subject. How do we measure randomness? Chaitin begins by reflecting on his 1969 paper: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-125-Gregory-Chaitin.mp3 This portion begins at 1:12 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Gregory Chaitin: In particular, my paper looks at the size of computer programs in bits. More technically you ask, what is the size in bits of the smallest computer program you need to calculate a given digital object? That’s called the program…

Close up cute little child girl spinning a coin to make decision. Heads or tails game.

The Chaitin Interview II: Defining Randomness

In the 1960s, mathematician and computer scientist Gregory Chaitin published a landmark paper in the field of algorithmic information theory in the Journal of the ACM – and he was only a teenager. Listen in as Robert J. Marks explores that paper with Chaitin, covering Chaitin’s definition of randomness and his philosophical interest in algorithmic information theory. Show Notes 00:27…

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Robert J. Marks On AI Evolutionary Computing (Part III)

Can artificial intelligence algorithms prove Darwinian evolution? Why won’t some scientists admit the design inherent in evolutionary computing? Do random processes disprove intelligent design? Dr. Michael Egnor discusses evolutionary computing, the no free lunch theorem, and the role of purpose in chance with Dr. Robert J. Marks. Show Notes 00:41 | Introducing Dr. Robert J. Marks 01:10 | The role…

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How Spooky “Quantum Collapse” Can Give Us More Secure Encryption

If entangled photons linked to random numbers are transmitted, parties on either end can know, via high error rates, that they’ve been intercepted.

In a recent podcast, “Enrique Blair on quantum computing,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks talks with fellow computer engineer Enrique Blair about why quantum mechanics is so strange but important to our future. They discussed “quantum communication” (generally, quantum encryption) and why safer quantum encryption might be easier to achieve than general quantum computing. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-110-Enrique-Blair.mp3 The discussion of quantum communication begins at approximately 55:32. The Show Notes and transcript follow. Robert J. Marks: I know there’s lots of interesting quantum communication today. The NSF and the Department of Defense are throwing big bucks at it. What is it, just roughly? Enrique Blair: Quantum communication really is the use of quantum mechanics to share information in a secure manner.…

Quantum Wave

Bingecast: Enrique Blair on Quantum Computing

What is quantum mechanics? What can quantum computers do that classical computers can’t? Has Google achieved quantum supremacy? Robert J. Marks discusses the weird world of quantum mechanics with Dr. Enrique Blair. Show Notes 00:54 | Introducing Dr. Enrique Blair, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Baylor University 03:08 | The history of quantum mechanics 13:16 | Quantum…

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Cancer Maps—An Expensive Source of Phantom Patterns?

Is the money the U.S. government spends on tracking cancer patterns a good investment? There’s a way we can tell

The U.S. government puts interactive maps on the internet that show the geographic incidence (all the way down to census blocks) of various types of cancer. Millions of dollars are spent each year maintaining these maps, but for what purpose? The problem with cancer maps is that they tempt the curious and fearful to scrutinize the brightly colored chunks, thinking that any patterns they discover must be meaningful. However, statistical patterns are sometimes meaningless. For example, I flipped a coin ten times and got these results: There is a cluster of 3 heads in a row and a cluster of 4 tails in a row: These clusters are not at all surprising. If a fair coin is flipped ten times,…


Enrique Blair on the Future of Quantum Computing

Google has claimed quantum supremacy. What does that mean? What is the future of quantum computing? Robert J. Marks discusses quantum communication, supremacy, and computing with Dr. Enrique Blair. Show Notes 00:49 | Introducing Dr. Enrique Blair, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Baylor University 01:14 | Problems with quantum computing 01:54 | What is quantum supremacy? 03:06…

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Bridge: Why Shuffle the Deck Seven Times?

For years, competitive bridge players complained that computer shuffling of cards produced goofy results. Statisticians sided with the computers

Bridge is one of the few games where computer algorithms have not yet demolished the best human players but, despite claims to the contrary, algorithms do a much better job of random shuffling of the deck.

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How Can We Measure Meaningful Information?

Neither randomness nor order alone creates meaning. So how can we identify communications?
Dropping a handful of toothpicks on the table seems to produce a different sort of pattern than spelling out a word with toothpicks. Surprisingly, this intuitive distinction is harder to make in math and the sciences. Algorithmic specified complexity (ASC) enables us to distinguish them. Read More ›