Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryEthics

shaved-male-nape-and-a-lot-of-usb-cables-connected-to-it-concept-of-dependence-in-thinking-and-information-stockpack-adobe-stock
Shaved male nape and a lot of usb cables connected to it. Concept of dependence in thinking and information

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…

greatThinker

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…

neon city
Neon night in a futuristic city. Photorealistic 3D illustration. Wallpaper in a cyberpunk style. Empty street with neon lights reflecting in a water. Beautiful night cityscape. Grunge urban landscape.

With Transhumanism, What Happens to Human Rights?

The transhumanist accepts suffering for the individual if suffering can advance the evolution of the species toward immortality and singularity

The 2018 Netflix series, Altered Carbon, depicts a future society where people hope to live forever by digitizing their consciousness and storing it in a “cortical stack.” This technological marvel is then inserted into any number of interchangeable bodies when the old “sleve” dies. But what you and I may watch for entertainment is for many scientists, philosophers, and theologians a life’s mission. This dream of life without end through technology is called transhumanism. Transhumanism (Humanity+ or hereafter H+) is a 20th– century endeavor grounded in rational humanism that trusts technological advances to answer two key questions of human existence: “What does it mean to be human?” and “What is the future of humanity?” For the transhumanist, these two questions…

crab-close-up-cuba-stockpack-adobe-stock
Crab close up, Cuba

How Could We Know If an Octopus or Lobster Felt Pain?

Researchers found that, when it comes to awareness, octopuses were the stars, followed by lobsters, crayfish, crabs, etc.

Some researchers, commissioned to find out, offered their wrap-up thoughts at Phys.org recently. They started applying the same standards to octopuses as are applied to mammals that are lab animals. Specifically, they used eight criteria for determining sentience — in the sense that, if you did the same thing to a dog and got the same reaction, would you assume it was pain? The results have been interesting: We found the strongest evidence for sentience in cephalopods. Octopuses were the stars. With around 170 million brain cells, they have higher brain-to-body ratios than most reptiles and fish. This allows octopuses to perform remarkable feats of learning and memory. Octopuses also behave in ways that point strongly to experiences of pain.…

chained typewriter
Information censorship - Typewriter locked with a chain

Are Media Gag Orders Fair in an Internet World?

Editor Michael Cook says no, based on the Pell sex abuse case Down Under. New ways must be found to ensure that a jury is not prejudiced

This article by editor Michael Cook tackles the problem of media gag orders in an internet world. Australian media outlets were recently fined A$1.1 million for contempt of court for publishing information that was widely available elsewhere concerning the trial of George, Cardinal Pell on charges of sexual molestation. Significantly, they could not publish information that cast doubt on the fairness of the trial, that they were in a better position to understand than foreign media would be. Cook suggests new approaches going forward. The article first appeared at MercatorNet on June 9, 2021 under the title “They’re still picking up the pieces after the Cardinal Pell fiasco.” A media pygmy, MercatorNet spends much of its time complaining about the mainstream media…

fetus hands
embryo silhouette in woman hand

Political Website’s Christmas Gift to Readers: Promoting Abortion

FiveThirtyEight asked readers to share their abortion stories and got something it hadn’t bargained on: Many were glad it didn’t happen
If you want to understand the mindset of the abortion lobby, note that this plea for accounts of killing of children in the womb appeared on Twitter on Christmas Day. Read More ›
3d-rendering-of-human-cell-or-embryonic-stem-cell-microscope-background-stockpack-adobe-stock
3d rendering of Human cell or Embryonic stem cell microscope background.

Are the Brain Cells in a Dish That Learned Pong Conscious?

Human-derived organoids learned faster than AI and always outperformed mouse-derived organoids in terms of volley length, raising troubling questions

Recently, science media were abuzz with a remarkable story about minibrains (mouse and human brain cells in a dish) learning to play the video game Pong: Scientists have successfully taught a collection of human brain cells in a petri dish how to play the video game “Pong” — kind of. Researchers at the biotechnology startup Cortical Labs have created “mini-brains“ consisting of 800,000 to one million living human brain cells in a petri dish, New Scientist reports. The cells are placed on top of a microelectrode array that analyzes the neural activity. “We think it’s fair to call them cyborg brains,” Brett Kagan, chief scientific officer at Cortical Labs and research lead of the project, told New Scientist. Tony Tran,…

a-free-living-dung-beetle-sits-in-the-forest-stockpack-adobe-stock
A free-living dung beetle sits in the forest

When Your Oppressors Are Giant Beetles — Sci-fi Saturday

“Résistance” (2016, animated) by Alex Chauvet et al. (uploaded at DUST November 19, 2021, 6:36 min) Dominated by an Insect’s totalitarian regime, the staff of a restaurant organizes a plot to knock down the established order. Review: Picture a very upper crust French restaurant staffed by humans, whose patrons are giant beetles with temperaments to match. The beetles are very well executed. The sight of the beetles guzzling mini glasses of champagne is not one to miss, so it’s not surprising the film clocked over 150k viewers in fewer than ten days. But yes, the humans are unhappy with all the grossness. They are plotting in the kitchen. And it doesn’t help that one of the drunken beetles starts pawing…

flag-of-china-and-clock-stockpack-adobe-stock
Flag of China and clock

Gingrich at COSM: China Is the Greatest Threat to Global Freedom

Newt Gingrich fears America will lose to China. George Gilder argues that thinking that way is self-defeating and stupid

At COSM 2021, philosopher of technology George Gilder and political analyst Newt Gingrich sparred over U.S.–China relations. Gilder and Gingrich, a former U.S. Congressman, exemplify the two predominant views on China today. Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and author Gingrich says the U.S. should decouple from China, while economist and author Gilder sees collaboration with China as our best — and only — option. Gingrich: Optimism about a more open China is waning In his opening remarks, Gingrich recalled that he was once an optimist that Chinese reformist leader Deng Xiaoping’s opening up strategy would usher in a more democratic China because Communism was incompatible with a free market economy. But, Gingrich, who has been a history…

brick-through-window-stockpack-adobe-stock
Brick through Window.

15. Debate: How Can a Cause and Effect Occur at the Same Time?

In the broken window analogy, the brick becomes a cause simultaneously with the shattered glass becoming an effect

In the “Does God exist?” debate at Theology Unleashed between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), a questioner asks, are singularities really a part of science? Readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were all unfalsifiable. When, in Section 4, it was Egnor’s turn to rebut Dillahunty, Dillahunty was not easily able to recall Aquinas’s First Way (the first logical argument for the existence of…

new-life-2d-echo-stockpack-adobe-stock
new life, 2d echo

How a Theory of the Soul Drives Abortion Activism

Descartes’ theory that the soul and the body are utterly distinct, while mostly rejected in philosophy, is still part of popular culture

Every now and then, it’s useful to look at the philosophical underpinnings of current thought and what implications they have for engineering ethics. In a recent post on the website of the journal First Things, professor of biblical and religious studies Carl Trueman noted that Cartesian dualism — a way of looking at the human person promulgated by René Descartes (1596-1650) — is enjoying a comeback in the popular mind, although modern philosophy has long since discarded it as an inadequate model. (This article by Karl D. Stephan originally appeared at Engineering Ethics Blog (October 11, 2021) under the title “Against Cartesian Dualism,” and is reprinted with permission.) If you know anything about Descartes, you will probably recall his most famous saying: “I think,…

pinocchio-stockpack-adobe-stock
Pinocchio

14: Debate: Is Morality a Mere Emotion That We Project On Others?

Theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty continue their conversation about basic issues at Theology Unleashed

In the “Does God exist?” debate at Theology Unleashed between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), a questioner asks, what underlies morality? Readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were all unfalsifiable. When, in Section 4, it was Egnor’s turn to rebut Dillahunty, Dillahunty was not easily able to recall Aquinas’s First Way (the first logical argument for the existence of God). Then, turning to…

Group of people holding hands praying worship believe

Compassion and Religion: Darwin’s Unscratchable Itches

If one’s research is in a hole as deep as evolutionary psychology is when accounting for compassion, why not stop digging?

Last Sunday, I pointed to a chapter I wrote in The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith: Exploring the Ultimate Questions About Life and the Cosmos (2021) on evolutionary psychology, best understood as the psychology we have derived from our not-quite-human ancestors. “Not-quite-human ancestors”? Well, if you believe in conventional evolution theory at all, you must suppose that we have not-quite-human ancestors. Thus, to understand the origin of traits like giving to the Heart & Stroke Fund or subscribing to popular science magazines, we must get back to a point before any such institutions could have existed but there was some sort of dim potential. But we can’t really do that because, as noted last Sunday, there is no such…

.Businessman holding tablet and management group of people in his hand. Virtual icon of social network. Business technology concept.

Asilomar AI Principles: Ethics to Guide a Top-Down Control Regime

Experts agree on a humanistic AI ethics program! Before we break out the champagne, let's ask some serious questions about their assumptions.

Get 1,200 artificial intelligence (AI) researchers and 2,500 other businesspeople and academics, such as Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, Ray Kurzweil, and David Chalmers, to all endorse one document about AI ethics. Voila! You have the Asilomar AI Principles with serious sound bite power: Experts agree on a humanistic AI ethics program! Do the Principles advance a worthy cause? To a certain extent, perhaps, in theory. Reading the text of the Asilomar Principles, however, you get a few vague ethical aspirations offered to guide a top-down control regime. Surveying the Principles’ 23 points, a few stand out as smooth, velvet glove power-grabbers. The points do it subtly, so as the holographic Dr. Lanning advised in I, Robot (2004), “you have to ask the right questions.”  At least one useful thing a 30-year litigation…

a-young-man-reading-the-bible-to-another-young-man-in-jail-stockpack-adobe-stock
A Young Man Reading The Bible To Another Young Man In Jail

12. Egnor vs. Dillahunty: How Can God Be Both Just and Merciful?

After atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty explains his view of morality, an audience member asks neurosurgeon Michael Egnor to explain how a just God can show mercy

In the “Does God exist?” debate at Theology Unleashed between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), we are looking at the nature of good, as well as the problem of evil. Now, as the questions continue, Matt Dillahunty defends his view of the foundations of morality and Michael Egnor explains how justice and mercy can be combined. Readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were…

question-mark-on-sticky-note-stockpack-adobe-stock
question mark on sticky note

10: Christian Egnor and Atheist Dillahunty Now Take Questions…

For example, “ What is Mr. Egnor’s best evidence of any god that would make me believe?”

In the “Does God exist?” debate between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), the debaters get questions from the audience. Readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were all unfalsifiable. When, in Section 4, it was Egnor’s turn to rebut Dillahunty, Dillahunty was not easily able to recall Aquinas’s First Way (the first logical argument for the existence of God). Then, turning to the origin…

fair-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock
Fair Concept

9. Michael Egnor Explains Why Matt Dillahunty Is Not an Atheist

Not really, anyway, Egnor insists, because he keeps invoking a moral standard that can’t exist if materialist atheism is true

In the “Does God exist?” debate between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), we find Egnor questioning Dillahunty’s atheism. Readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were all unfalsifiable. When, in Section 4, it was Egnor’s turn to rebut Dillahunty, Dillahunty was not easily able to recall Aquinas’s First Way (the first logical argument for the existence of God). Then, turning to the origin of…

two-chess-knights-facing-away-from-each-other-stockpack-adobe-stock
Two chess knights facing away from each other

8. Does Morality Really Exist? If So, Does It Come From God?

Matt Dillahunty now challenges Michael Egnor: There is no way to know whether a moral doctrine represents any reality apart from belief

In the “Does God exist?” debate between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), the debaters are now talking about where moral precepts come from. Readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were all unfalsifiable. When, in Section 4, it was Egnor’s turn to rebut Dillahunty, Dillahunty was not easily able to recall Aquinas’s First Way (the first logical argument for the existence of God). Then,…

demolition-of-hotel-collapse-following-bomb-blast-explosion-stockpack-adobe-stock
Demolition of hotel collapse following bomb blast explosion

7. Dillahunty Asks 2nd Oldest Question: If God Exists, Why Evil?

In the debate between Christian neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty, the question of raping a baby was bound to arise.

In the “Does God exist?” debate between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), we have at last got round to the Problem of Evil. Readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were all unfalsifiable. When, in Section 4, it was Egnor’s turn to rebut Dillahunty, Dillahunty was not easily able to recall Aquinas’s First Way (the first logical argument for the existence of God). Then,…

android-robot-thinking-in-office-stockpack-adobe-stock
android robot thinking in office

One Day the Door to the Robot’s Shop Opens – Sci-fi Saturday

Roy, the robot, is suddenly confronted by another robot, determined to kill or die

“Roy” at DUST (July 23, 2021, 7:44 min) Roy is a sci-fi drama short film about a robot mechanic holed away in a rundown barn, living in a world of rustic antiques melded with futuristic sensibilities. He is a man forgotten by society and spends his days tinkering at projects. That is until someone opens the door into his shop. Roy is a story about compassion in the face of those affected by violence and despair. It explores the themes of how we relate to strangers and friends around us who have become bitter and jaded by the world. Roy poses this question: how do we face those transformed by violence and angry at the world? Review: This film won…