Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryArtificial Intelligence

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Multimedia video concept on TV set in dark room

Culture Watch: “This is Us” Recognizes Limits of Machines

Let's hope that this becomes a trend of popular culture dealing with the realities of technology and its limitations

Most people do not recognize the inherent limitations of machines and algorithms. This is true even more in popular culture, which seems to be fixated on a narrative of machines becoming sentient and taking over. However, in a recent episode of the popular TV show “This is Us,” the limitations of computer algorithms came to the forefront, with the show not only recognizing the outlines, but getting the details correct. You might wonder why a TV drama is getting involved in the technical details of a discussion on the limits of computation. “This is Us” is a TV show which emphasizes the connections between generations — how the altruism and selfishness as well as the accomplishments and failures of each…

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Ghostwriter In Office. Creative Ghost Writer

Book Review: “Ghost Work” Flops in Economic Understanding

"Ghost workers" are those unseen workers behind artificial intelligence

Here at Mind Matters, we have often covered the way that humans are used to supplement Artificial Intelligence. Artificial intelligence has generally been misunderstood as replacing human effort in society, while, in reality, it is usually leveraging it, instead. Whether using humans to find good training data, mining content for intentionality, or even using humans directly within machine learning algorithms, today’s most prominent “AI” systems are actually strange hybrids of humans and computers. As a matter of fact, the market for human supplementation of AI is so large that Amazon has an entire service built around it. While much of this work is done either for free (oftentimes through games on the Internet) or through traditional paid office work, a growing amount is being done through “microtasks,” through systems…

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Beautiful water waves -  Splashed water wave in clean blue water, clean filtered water ready for drinking

Why AI Can’t Really Filter Out “Hate News”

As Robert J. Marks explains, the No Free Lunch theorem establishes that computer programs without bias are like ice cubes without cold

In Define information before you talk about it, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviewed engineering prof Robert J. Marks on the way information, not matter, shapes our world (October 28, 2021). In the first portion, Egnor and Marks discussed questions like: Why do two identical snowflakes seem more meaningful than one snowflake. Then they turned to the relationship between information and creativity. Is creativity a function of more information? Or is there more to it? And human intervention make any difference? Does Mount Rushmore have no more information than Mount Fuji? Does human intervention make a measurable difference? That’s specified complexity. Putting the idea of specified complexity to work, how do we measure meaningful information? How do we know Lincoln contained more…

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Girl in orange shirt standing near house robot

Silicon Valley Insider: Why Friendly Super-AI Won’t Happen

Venture capitalist Peter Thiel talks about the Great Filter hypothesis: Why should we assume a superior artificial intelligence would be friendly?

In a wide-ranging talk at the recent COSM 2021 conference (November 10–12), Peter Thiel (a PayPal and Facebook founder) expressed concern that people worry a great deal about artificial intelligence that thinks like people (AGI) but the real push now is for massive “dumb” surveillance AI peering into every detail of our lives, for the benefit of either government or the corporate world. He went on to say that he doubts that artificial general intelligence (AGI) — “superhuman software that can do everything that we can do” — would, in any event, be “friendly.” That is, that it “won’t kill us.” If it is intelligent enough to be independent, why should we assume so? “Friendly” is a human value, hard…

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Robots dancing in the park. Artificial intelligence industry in China.

COSM 2021: Kai-Fu Lee Tries His Hand at Future Casting

The former president of Google China thinks that China is well equipped to lead the world in AI

At COSM 2021, Kai-Fu Lee — computer scientist, writer, venture capitalist and former head of Google China — provided a future cast of the five ways artificial intelligence will change the world. Lee’s predictions are compelling because he takes a tempered view of the capabilities of AI. Lee says some people misunderstand AI. It can’t replicate the human brain because it works differently from the brain. AI is good at using large amounts of data for numerical optimization and individualization, but very poor at extraction analysis, common sense, insight, and creativity. Lee told the gathering: … of course [AI] has no self-awareness, consciousness, or emotions or love. So, it is actually quite a good complement for human beings because we’re…

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Peter Thiel at COSM 2021 on Artificial General Intelligence

Peter Thiel: Artificial General Intelligence Isn’t Happening

That whole transhumanist movement is slowing down, he told COSM 2021. But, he adds, What IS happening should sober us up a lot

In his talk yesterday at COSM 2021, venture capitalist and philanthropist Peter Thiel — the ultimate Silicon Valley insider, prophet, and sometimes needed gadfly — offered a cold shower for transhumanism, The Singularity, the computers we will supposedly merge with by 2030, and all that. Those things, he thinks, are uncertain. We should worry about what’s happening now in everyday time, to which, in his view, too few are paying heed: The growth of total AI-based surveillance and the disappearance of privacy. Thiel considers arguments about whether computers that think like people will ever be developed to be “above his pay grade.” Given that he is reputed to be worth $3.7B dollars, that’s a polite way of saying that such…

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Laptop with pendrive, sd card, CD and portable hard drive. Concept of data storage

The Physicality Of Data And The Road To Personal Data Ownership

“The Physicality Of Data And The Road To Personal Data Ownership” was originally published by Forbes, July 2, 2021. David Kruger is co-founder and VP of Strategy for Absio Corporation, and a co-inventor of Absio’s Software-defined Distributed Key Cryptography (SDKC). This article is the first in a series on the physicality of data. I’ll follow up with additional installments of this series over the next several weeks, so check back to see those as they become available. All of us tend to conflate the word “data” with the word “information.” Usually, that’s OK, but collapsing data on a computer and information into one thing rather than two separate things makes thinking accurately about data ownership difficult. Here’s why: Information is…

law book library
Law book library

US News’ Law School Rankings Are Losing Ground, Analyst Says

Big Data has enabled a number of competitive new ranking systems, says Wake Forest University prof

Recently, physics professor Jed Macosko of Wake Forest University spoke to Mind Matters News about the way access to huge troves of data (Big Data) enables a variety of university ranking systems, depending on what matters to the prospective student. This is a far cry from traditional ranking systems like US News, which assume that all agree on the ranking criteria. You’re a physics professor who co-founded a new college ranking system. How did you end up here? I was born in 1972, in Minneapolis. My dad, Chris Macosko, who had a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University, worked in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota. There were four of us kids and we grew…

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Canadian Geese Flying in V Formation

The Intelligence Birds and Bees Naturally Have — and We Don’t

An exploration of the stunning findings in Eric Cassell's new book, "Animal Algorithms"

You’re aiming to find your childhood friend’s home in a new city. A map helps; GPS is better. Accessing all that previously-acquired mapmakers’ knowledge, employing all of that satellite, radio and computing technology, you’ll probably (although not certainly) reach your goal. Could some “dumb bird” do any better?  Way better, actually.  Baked-in Brain Power A bird born near Wales (UK) knows how to fly over 6,200 miles (10,000 km) south in the winter, following the west coastlines of Europe and Africa, then crossing the Atlantic Ocean to land in Argentina. The same bird knows how to return to its original home a few months later. She flies north along the east coasts of South and North America, then crosses the Atlantic back…

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Boston Dynamics’ Famous Robot Dog Being Put to Work

Long stalled in the area of research and development, "Spot" is now being prepared for its first job

Boston Dynamics is a robotics innovation company that has been best known for “converting capital into viral YouTube videos.” Their first sensation was over a decade ago, when they released the legendary breakthrough “Big Dog” robot video. What was unique about the robot dog was its ability to traverse a diverse array of terrain. Additionally, as can be seen in the video, it even handled sudden impacts well. Boston Dynamics continued to develop these multi-terrain walkers, coming up with a more humanoid design with “Pet Man.” While Boston Dynamics’ robots have long been an area of research and development, they have recently been put to work. The current incarnation, known as “Spot,” is currently being outfitted for doing what it…

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Cyborg hand holding a  Medical icon and connection 3d rendering

How Does AI Change My Healthcare?

And what if my most important problem is NOT medical?

What is AI doing to me? That is a good question to contemplate. I want to focus on healthcare: How is my healthcare impacted by AI? In ways that are both obvious and obtuse, AI is changing healthcare. As it changes healthcare, AI is changing us! All of our lives are increasingly quantified. We have devices to count our steps, monitor our pulse and even track how much water we drink. During my last visit, my dentist recommended that I get an Oral-B iO Electric Toothbrush. He was pretty enthusiastic about it and so I got one. This toothbrush not only has a Bluetooth connection to an app you can download onto your phone, but it uses artificial intelligence! Wow!…

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Extraterrestrial aliens spaceship fly above small town, ufo with blue spotlights in dark stormy sky.

Elon Musk Keeps Buzz About Extraterrestrials in the News

He has said that we may be ET’s sims. Then this year he created an uproar by doubting UFOs — and another one months later by implying that they do exist. Huh?

Self-driving car and private space travel entrepreneur Elon Musk has been all over the map recently as far as ET is concerned. He has claimed that our universe may have been simulated by extraterrestrials. He has hinted that he himself is an extraterrestrial. Earlier this year, he apparently reversed course and identified (on Twitter) the strongest argument for the idea that ET doesn’t even exist: ‘Strongest argument against aliens,’ Musk tweeted, along with two charts that shows camera resolution has advanced, but UFO pictures have remained the same. The post concludes that extraterrestrials do not exist, due to most images showing floating blobs, but many of the comments argue otherwise. One user responded with ‘that’s exactly what an alien would…

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The alien is studying the data set about the man.

Astronomer: ET Is More Likely To Be AI Than To Be a Life Form

Royal astronomer Lord Martin Rees explains that, apart from other issues, AI would last much longer in the hostile galactic environment

Prominent British Royal Society astronomer Lord Martin Rees thinks that ET will turn out to be AI: Human technological civilisation only dates back millennia (at most) – and it may be only one or two more centuries before humans, made up of organic materials such as carbon, are overtaken or transcended by inorganic intelligence, such as AI. Computer processing power is already increasing exponentially, meaning AI in the future may be able to use vastly more data than it does today. It seems to follow that it could then get exponentially smarter, surpassing human general intelligence. Perhaps a starting point would be to enhance ourselves with genetic modification in combination with technology – creating cyborgs with partly organic and partly…

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BIG letters inside a London store

Does Creativity Just Mean Bigger Data? Or Something Else?

Michael Egnor and Robert J. Marks look at claims that artificial intelligence can somehow be taught to be creative

In Define information before you talk about it, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviewed engineering prof Robert J. Marks on the way information, not matter, shapes our world (October 28, 2021). In the first portion, Egnor and Marks discussed questions like: Why do two identical snowflakes seem more meaningful than one snowflake? Now they turn to the relationship between information and creativity. Is creativity a function of more information? Or is there more to it? This portion begins at 10:46 min. A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Michael Egnor: How does biological information differ from information in nonliving things? Robert J. Marks: I don’t know if it does… I do believe after recent study that the mind…

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Female humpback whale with calf

Can AI Help Us Talk to Whales? Maybe. But Then What?

In the real world, if we succeed in communicating with whales, it will be much like communicating successfully with dogs, cats, and horses. None of them are furry people.

A recent article in the Smithsonian Magazine holds out the hope that AI can help enable us to talk with whales: The clicks of sperm whales are ideal candidates for attempting to decode their meanings—not just because, unlike continuous sounds that other whale species produce, they are easy to translate into ones and zeros. The animals dive down into the deepest ocean depths and communicate over great distances, so they cannot use body language and facial expressions, which are important means of communication for other animals. “It is realistic to assume that whale communication is primarily acoustic,” says Bronstein. Sperm whales have the largest brains in the animal kingdom, six times the size of ours. When two of these animals…

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sci-fi scene of the creature machine invading city, digital art style, illustration painting

Worst Case: AI Robots Invade to “Help” Us — Sci-fi Saturday

A well-meaning AI attempts to “rescue” an impressionable child from the coming wipeout of humanity

“Cera” (2021 ) at DUST by John Robinson Irwin (October 20, 2021, 7:33 min) An 11-year old girl’s loyalty to her parents is tested after an attack by her caregiver hints to a greater violent upheaval beyond their rural surroundings. Review: The story opens with Hailey (Cali DiCapo)and her father John (Jason Isaacs) finding her mother Maria (Maria-Elena Laas) stabbed, though not dead. Minimal dialogue does a good job at filling us in on an, at first, nameless horror without breaking the suspense. Thus, we sense that “Cera” is an intelligent caregiver but not a human being and that the child’s devotion to her could be fatal or… It gets creepier from there. Minimal spoilers but it’s not clear, in…

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Competition between humans and robots in tug of war concept

Robots Will NOT Steal Our Jobs, Business Analysts Show

Doomsayers typically do not factor in all components of the job that a robot would have to replace or all of the true costs of trying, they say

At Fast Company, data analyst Jeffrey Funk and business prof Gary N. Smith dispute the claim that robots are coming for all our jobs. They point to a history of overblown claims: In 1965, Herbert Simon, who would later be awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics and the Turing Award (the “Nobel Prize of computing”), predicted that “machines will be capable, within 20 years, of doing any work a man can do.” In 1970, Marvin Minsky, who also received the Turing Award, predicted that, “in from three to eight years we will have a machine with the general intelligence of an average human being.” The implications for jobs were ominous, but robotic-takeover predictions have been in the air for a…

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silicon valley traffic sign

George Gilder Asks Silicon Valley Again: What’s It All About?

As the author of Wealth and Poverty (1981), Gilder hopes to challenge both the boosters and the doomsayers on why we are doing high tech

If you make it to COSM 2021 (November 10–12, Bellevue, Washington), you won’t want to miss George Gilder, the tech philosopher whose approach to technology is COSM’s inspiration: We do technology if it helps us, not just because it helps Silicon Valley. His bestseller, Wealth and Poverty (Basic Books, 1981) probed basic questions like why we work and how we decide something has value. His Life after Google (2018) looks at what we can do with sophisticated tech when Silicon Valley no longer micromanages everything. At COSM 2019, Gilder asked Big Tech pioneers, movers, and shakers, where all this is going. What is the value? He got some good answers on, for example, the real life prospects and limits of…

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unicorn

Tech Stocks: Are the Unicorns Losing Their Horns? Their Magic?

Jeffrey Lee Funk and Gary N. Smith reveal at MarketWatch that widely publicized, iconic unicorns have never made money or made only a little

Technology consultant Jeffrey Lee Funk and Pomona business prof Gary N. Smith are not exactly bullish on the new high tech-dependent startups (unicorns) that everybody talks about. Lots of media interest and commentating, sure, but where’s the money? In a recent op-ed at MarketWatch, Funk and Smith warn, “Unicorn losses are unprecedented in the history of U.S. startups and threaten stock markets and the economy.” Not what you heard? Think about this then: The authors, regular contributors at Mind Matters News, point out that many investors and analysts worry about China’s Evergrande Group’s current woes ($300 billion in liabilities). But Evergrand was once profitable. And the Ubers and Airbnbs? They’ve never been profitable and the liabilities are growing: Unicorn losses…

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Japanese red maple keys in our own backyard. These are beautiful signs of spring.

Could Tiny Flying Computer Chips Monitor the World? They’re here!

A team at Northwestern University has developed a model based on the design of seed dispersal in nature

A Northwestern University team is developing electronic chips as small as a grain of sand, equipped with wings like those of wind-dispersed seeds. The hope is that these microfliers will monitor pollution and contamination — and surveil crowds via ultra-miniaturized equipment: About the size of a grain of sand, the new flying microchip (or “microflier”) does not have a motor or engine. Instead, it catches flight on the wind — much like a maple tree’s propeller seed — and spins like a helicopter through the air toward the ground. By studying maple trees and other types of wind-dispersed seeds, the engineers optimized the microflier’s aerodynamics to ensure that it — when dropped at a high elevation — falls at a…