Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

# Monthly Archive January 2022

## Remember When Mars Was Going To Land?

Today, now that we can reach Mars, we hope for mere fossils of bacteria

Sadly, the Mars meteorite, favored in recent years, has showed no evidence of life Whether there has ever been life on Mars is a different question from what the specifically meteorite shows (we would need to search the whole planet to be sure about life). But here is some recent disappointing news about the meteorite: Organic molecules found in a meteorite that hurtled to Earth from Mars were synthesized during interactions between water and rocks that occurred on the Red Planet about 4 billion years ago, according to new analysis led by Carnegie’s Andrew Steele and published by Science. The meteorite, called Allan Hills (ALH) 84001, was discovered in the Antarctic in 1984 and is considered one of the oldest…

## Sci-Fi Saturday Special: The Journey of the Nauts

The astronaut discovers a planet run by robots that think humans are lying if we say there is no Creator because, after all, we created them

(A short story by Jonathan Witt) Let’s see. How to start? As I surfaced from cryo, I was reminded of the old Christmas poem. “A cold coming we had of it,” one of the Magi begins, and I was thinking, the fellow doesn’t know the meaning of cold. Try halfway to absolute zero across seventeen light years of interstellar space. Granted, the cryo made the journey feel like an overnighter, but don’t imagine some trillionaire spa sleepover. Imagine yourself liquored up on bad moonshine, stuffed in a sack full of dry ice, knocked unconscious, tumbled about for an hour, quick-thawed, flushed of blue antifreeze, pumped full of dehydrated/rehydrated blood, and then shocked awake. That’s the cold coming we had of…

## Enforce the Law With No Bias? Use Robots! Oops, Wait…

The 2008 remake of the 1951 film, The Day the Earth Stood Still, explores the concept

Since we’ve been reviewing the Matrix movies, I thought I would review another sci-fi film starring Keanu Reeves, The Day the Earth Stood Still, (2008) which was a remake of a film of the same name that came out in 1951. However, as I was watching this train wreck, even by remake standards, I thought I ought to watch the original for a little extra context. What I saw compelled me to write this review. Here’s a trailer for the original, which gives some sense of the period: Now the new version: The movie opens with a spaceship landing and the alien, Klaatu, and his robot, Gort, stepping out of the ship. Klaatu is shot and Gort destroys a few…

## What Is AI Doing To Me? How AI Influences Our Concept of Reality

Reality is far more than what can be quantified by a computer

I have been thinking lately about how artificial intelligence (AI) is affecting me. That is a big topic with many avenues to be explored. I would like to explore just two of them here. The first is how AI influences my concept of reality. The second is how AI is influencing my actions. Both of these dynamics are profound and already evident in our world. In this first of two parts, we will explore how AI influences our concept of reality. AI-driven systems receive data from a variety of sources. Their universe is defined by what their sensors can quantify and deliver to them. As we interact with these AI systems, we are subtly influenced to adopt their view of…

## Will AI Take Over Content Moderation?

While content moderators report psychological trauma, experts weigh in on whether artificial intelligence could remove humans from the equation

How do Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, YouTube, and other platforms keep up with the millions upon millions of posts, comments, videos, and photos posted to their sites on a daily basis? It takes a partnership between artificial intelligence and human content moderators.  In recent years, however, content moderators have begun to reveal that their work is often traumatizing. Moderators for Facebook and TikTok have gone so far as to sue for the psychological harm they have experienced at their workplaces, regularly reviewing images and videos that you and I never have to see depicting rape, murder, child trafficking, and other violent and graphic content. Subjecting workers to violent and graphic imagery is an unsustainable way of keeping the internet free of such…

## Eugenics, Transhumanism, and Artificial Intelligence

If we were to succeed at creating an ethical decision-making AI, whose ethics would it abide by?

In his article for the Digital Journal, Saratendu Sethi argues that to build a sustainable global supply chain requires the humanization of AI. This technological revolution, he says, includes “truly autonomous and self-correcting supply chains” that will replace the flawed capital-driven decision making of humans. Sethi defines this utilitarian mission of serving the “greater good” through what he calls a “sustainable, ethical and responsible world that puts equity for all at the center.” His motive of helping everyone while protecting the environment is commendable, yet the larger question remains, whose ethic will drive the logic used by this AI? When resources are limited, how will this AI decide who gets food and who gets medicine? Based on my own study, Sethi’s…

## Welcoming the Post-Zoom Era

The Zoom era is quickly coming to an end. How should companies re-adjust?

Prior to the pandemic, few outside of technology jobs even knew what Zoom was. Now, everyone is comfortable with video conferencing. However, while the technology works better than ever, I’m starting to sense that people are done with continual video conferencing.  Many people who use Zoom do so on a compulsory basis. They have jobs that require that they Zoom for meetings or they are in classes that require online attendance. Therefore, it is hard to decipher people’s attitudes towards Zoom in those circumstances. They use it because someone told them they must. However, I regularly teach at a homeschooling co-op class. Homeschoolers, especially in Oklahoma, aren’t compelled to do anything that they don’t feel comfortable with. Don’t want to…

## China’s Internet: The Biggest Influencer Is the State

How China uses social metrics to guide its censorship strategy

The Chinese Communist Party’s response to champion doubles tennis player Peng Shuai was about more than just dismissing an accusation and protecting a high-ranking Party member. It was about silencing influencers and suppressing social mobilization. In a previous article, we looked at how Beijing’s propaganda machine used fake Twitter accounts to amplify messaging around tennis champion Peng Shuai after she disappeared from the public and was censored on the Chinese internet. Wilson Center scholar Rui Zhong writes in Wired magazine, “This is not about topics. This censorship is fundamentally about the dismantling of social resources.” Rui Zhong’s article is helpful in contextualizing the Chinese Communist Party’s targets for online censorship. She says that most analyses of Chinese internet censorship focus on specific words, phrases, or topics, rather…

## Study Information Theory with Engineer Robert J. Marks—and Save Over 50%!

Join computer engineer Robert J. Marks to take a deep dive into these issues and more in Marks’ new online course Evolutionary Informatics, which has just debuted at DiscoveryU

What can we learn from information theory about the possibilities—and limits—of machine intelligence? How can the methods of probability help us better assess the capabilities of “evolutionary” algorithms? Join computer engineer Robert J. Marks to take a deep dive into these issues and more in Marks’ new online course Evolutionary Informatics, which has just debuted at DiscoveryU, Discovery Institute’s online learning platform.Tuition for the Evolutionary Informatics,course is set at $100, but with a special coupon code (2022special47) you can reduce the cost by more than 50% to just$47! The coupon code is valid through Feb. 28, 2022. Students can use a different code (2022special25) to reduce the cost of the course to \$25, also through Feb. 28. Dr. Marks…

## Universal Design and Artificial Intelligence

Do AI systems serve us all?

An elderly couple I know recently sold their home and became renters. They thought they had sold their house for a good price, but I am not so sure. I am pretty sure they were swindled by a smooth sales pitch from one of those home-buying companies that are buying up so many homes. They had been homeowners, paying off their mortgage and getting the benefit of the rising value of their home. Now, they are renters, helping to pay their landlord’s mortgage and increasing his net worth. All this got me thinking about universal design and artificial intelligence (AI). Universal design is the discipline of designing products and services for as large a part of the population as possible.…

## Matrix Resurrections: What Does Existence Outside of Time Mean?

Call me a sentimental child, but I liked watching Neo and Trinity fly off into the sunset. I liked watching them fly in the same way those random birds kept flying in a circle. Did it make sense?

For all the latest Matrix movie’s faults The Matrix: Resurrections it tried to play with an interesting concept, the difference between linear speed and time. In the previous two reviews, we discussed Trinity becoming the One, the merit behind the writer’s decision, and one of the fatal flaws within the Matrix series as whole, which is technology being used as an ambiguous magic system rather than a system with clearly defined rules. This time we’ll discuss the movie’s villain, the The Analyst. I vacillated about this character, unable to make up my mind about whether or not the Analyst was a worthy addition to the series. To be honest, I’m still not sure, but I’m leaning toward yes because of…

## Social Media Content Moderator Sues TikTok for PTSD

Social media moderators protect users from graphic content, but who protects the moderators?

A social media content moderator is suing TikTok, a popular video app, for psychological trauma developed from 12-hour shifts moderating endless graphic videos. Candie Frazier works for Telus International, a Canadian contracting firm providing moderation services to social media apps like TikTok. Frazier filed a complaint with the California Central District Court in December, alleging that TikTok and parent company ByteDance do not provide enough support for the psychological wellbeing of their contracted moderators, whose job it is to remove violent, graphic, and otherwise inappropriate content from the platform. TikTok’s popularity exploded in the aftermath of pandemic lockdowns, especially among millennials and Generation Z. As of September, TikTok reported 1 billion users every month. In her complaint, Frazier explains that…

## “Woke” Comes Back to Bite the Darwinists — and They Deserve It

Intelligent design people stood up not only for our colleagues and those who think as we do but we also stood up for freedom for people
Darwinist Jerry Coyne has been at the forefront of efforts over the past couple of decades to censor advocates of intelligent design and anyone who questions the Darwinian paradigm. Read More ›

## The Strange Story of Google’s “Selfish Ledger”

If you need Google to run your life, this is definitely for you

At one time, not too many years ago, Google top hats developed the idea to push the rest of us to change society, as follows: The video was obtained and published on Thursday by The Verge. It describes a so-called “Selfish Ledger” that would collect all of your data, including actions you make on your phone, preference settings, and decisions you make, and not just keep it there for future evaluation. Instead, the ledger, which would be designed and managed by Google, would interpret that information and guide you down a path towards reaching a goal, or on a broader scale, doing your part to help solve poverty or other societal problems. In one example, the video describes how the…

## What’s the future for cryptocurrencies?

Currencies that do not depend on government have survived and are forging ahead

One of the most interesting developments in economics in past decades has been the effort to develop currencies (money) that does not depend on government. From time immemorial, governments have issued currency. It was a key part of their power. Cryptocurrencies are based on the assumption that trust alone will work. Here are some of the things that are happening for cryptos in 2022: Sandra Ro, CEO of of Global Blockchain Business Council told Coin Telegraph: “ In 2022, it will be ‘corporate career risk’ to not have a baseline understanding of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. From bankers to corporate executives to politicians, it is imperative that they get on board and seriously consider the implications of blockchain. Further, 2022…

## NoSQL Databases are the Problem, Not the Solution

NoSQL means that you will be continually rewriting your code

It’s amazing how much we forget about our own history. Many people think that NoSQL databases are the “next big thing” in technology, and that we should write all of our core applications using them. However, NoSQL databases actually predate relational databases, and common relational databases were established to solve the problems that NoSQL brings. What are the advantages of NoSQL databases? There are essentially two — they are fast, fast, fast, and they can scale, scale, scale. This much is true. However, if you aren’t building the next Facebook, you probably don’t need that much speed and scale. The fact is, this much speed and scale comes at a cost, and, even in the 1970s, with the limited computers…

## Chatbots: Still Dumb After All These Years

Intelligence is more than statistically appropriate responses

In 1970, Marvin Minsky, recipient of the Turing Award (“the Nobel Prize of Computing”), predicted that within “three to eight years we will have a machine with the general intelligence of an average human being.”  Fifty-two years later, we’re still waiting. The fundamental roadblock is that, although computer algorithms are really, really good at identifying statistical patterns, they have no way of knowing what these patterns mean because they are confined to MathWorld and never experience the real world. As Richard Feynman famously explained, there is a fundamental difference between labeling things and understanding them: [My father] taught me “See that bird? It’s a brown-throated thrush, but in Germany it’s called a halsenflugel, and in Chinese they call it a chung ling and even…

## Consciousness Is Destroying Physicalism

Materialism (physical stuff is all there is) is taking a well-deserved beating of late

Paul Austin Murphy asks a good question: We can easily and happily accept that without the brain, there would be no emergence of consciousness in the first place — at least not in human beings as they are today. Yet that still leaves such emergence to be explained. More specifically and to accommodate both panpsychism and artificial intelligence (i.e., brains may not be required for consciousness), we can accept that without the brain of human subject S, that human subject would simply have no consciousness. (This is a statement of the obvious to me.) Yet we still need to explain the emergence of consciousness from — see, what does “from” mean? — the human brain of subject S. Paul Austin…

## Claim: A single brain region preserves our sense of self

No. We live in a strange world but it is not so strange as all that.

Neuroscientist Robert Martone tells us, A new study, published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience(SCAN), explores how a specific brain region helps knit together memories of the present and future self. Injury to that area leads to an impaired sense of identity. The region—called the ventral medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC)—may produce a fundamental model of our self and place it in mental time. In doing so, this study suggests, it may be the source of our sense of self. Robert Martone, “How Our Brain Preserves Our Sense of Self” at Scientific American Paper. This is nonsense, of course. A kitten has a sense of self if you try holding on to its tail. But so does a fly…

## The Matrix Resurrections: Technology as a Soft Magic System

Stakes and believability are connected, especially when it comes to science fiction. Last time, we discussed the most controversial element of the The Matrix: Resurrections , as well as the meta narrative Lana Wachowski set out to establish at the beginning of the film. Now, the Matrix Resurrections is much better than The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003) because it, at least, brings the original trilogy full circle. That being said, there are loads of problems, and many of them are issues I’ve already discussed in reviews of the earlier films First, we have the pacing issue. Wachowski says too much too fast. This time, we’re not getting conflicting narratives that are confusing the plot but rather…