Quantum Mechanics, the Chinese Room Experiment and the Limits of Understanding

All of us, even physicists, often process information without really knowing what we’re doing By John Horgan  Like great art, great thought experiments have implications unintended by their creators. Take philosopher John Searle’s Chinese room experiment. Searle concocted it to convince us that computers don’t really “think” as we do; they manipulate symbols mindlessly, without understanding what they are doing. Searle meant to make a point about the limits of machine cognition. Recently, however, the Chinese room experiment has goaded me into dwelling on the limits of human cognition. We humans can be pretty mindless too, even when engaged in a pursuit as lofty … Continue reading Quantum Mechanics, the Chinese Room Experiment and the Limits of Understanding

Machine in the ghost

Can a robot pray? Does an AI have a soul? Advances in automata raise theological debates that will shape the secular world Ed Simon is an editor-at-large for The Marginalia Review of Books, a contributing editor for the History News Network and a staff writer at the literary site The Millions… Edited by Sam Dresser The wooden monk, a little over two feet tall, ambles in a circle. Periodically, he raises a gripped cross and rosary towards his lips and his jaw drops like a marionette’s, affixing a kiss to the crucifix. Throughout his supplications, those same lips seem to mumble, … Continue reading Machine in the ghost

Thought-detection: AI has infiltrated our last bastion of privacy

Image Credit: peterhowell/Getty Images by Gary Grossman, Edelman From TikTok to Instagram, Facebook to YouTube, and more, learn how data is key to ensuring ad creative will actually perform on every platform.Register Now Our thoughts are private – or at least they were. New breakthroughs in neuroscience and artificial intelligence are changing that assumption, while at the same time inviting new questions around ethics, privacy, and the horizons of brain/computer interaction. Research published last week from Queen Mary University in London describes an application of a deep neural network that can determine a person’s emotional state by analyzing wireless signals that are … Continue reading Thought-detection: AI has infiltrated our last bastion of privacy

Welcome to the Next Level of Bullshit

The language algorithm GPT-3 continues our descent into a post-truth world. BY RAPHAËL MILLIÈRE One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.” These are the opening words of the short book On Bullshit, written by the philosopher Harry Frankfurt. Fifteen years after the publication of this surprise bestseller, the rapid progress of research on artificial intelligence is forcing us to reconsider our conception of bullshit as a hallmark of human speech, with troubling implications. What do philosophical reflections on bullshit have to do with algorithms? As it turns out, quite a lot. In … Continue reading Welcome to the Next Level of Bullshit

Why Human-Like Robots Elicit Uncanny Feelings

Summary: Perceived animacy decreases significantly as a function of exposure time for android faces. Source: Carol Clark – Emory Health Sciences Androids, or robots with humanlike features, are often more appealing to people than those that resemble machines — but only up to a certain point. Many people experience an uneasy feeling in response to robots that are nearly lifelike, and yet somehow not quite “right.” The feeling of affinity can plunge into one of repulsion as a robot’s human likeness increases, a zone known as “the uncanny valley.” The journal Perception published new insights into the cognitive mechanisms underlying this phenomenon made by … Continue reading Why Human-Like Robots Elicit Uncanny Feelings


by Patrick Wood, Guest Waking Times Technocracy and Transhumanism have always been joined at the hip. Technocracy uses its “science of social engineering” to merge technology and society. Transhumanism uses its field of NBIC to merge technology directly into humans. To put it another way, Technocracy is to society what Transhumanism is to the humans that live in it. Transhumanism as a philosophy has been growing for centuries, but only in the metaphysical realm. Its ultimate goal is for humans to escape death and live forever in a state of immortality. With the advancement of science in the last 30 years, … Continue reading THE SIAMESE TWINS OF TECHNOCRACY AND TRANSHUMANISM

Who Wants to Be a Cyborg?

By John Horgan  Philosopher Susan Schneider weighs the pros and cons of radical technological enhancement In early March—the Before Time—I sat in a packed auditorium at my school and listened to a philosopher talk about things utterly unrelated to, well, you know. The speaker, Susan Schneider, considered how artificial intelligence and other technologies might alter our bodies and minds, for good or ill. She also investigates these topics in her lively new book Artificial You: AI and the Future of Your Mind. Recent events have distracted us from pondering technological enhancement, the Singularity and all that jazz, but these issues still matter, and Schneider has … Continue reading Who Wants to Be a Cyborg?

The Deck Is Not Rigged: Poker and the Limits of AI

Despite tremendous gains in the algorithmic assault on chance, computers haven’t yet cracked the code of human nature. BY MARIA KONNIKOVA TUOMAS SANDHOLM, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, is not a poker player — or much of a poker fan, in fact — but he is fascinated by the game for much the same reason as the great game theorist John von Neumann before him. Von Neumann, who died in 1957, viewed poker as the perfect model for human decision making, for finding the balance between skill and chance that accompanies our every choice. He saw poker as the ultimate … Continue reading The Deck Is Not Rigged: Poker and the Limits of AI

Why Is the Human Brain So Efficient?

How massive parallelism lifts the brain’s performance above that of AI. BY LIQUN LUO The brain is complex; in humans it consists of about 100 billion neurons, making on the order of 100 trillion connections. It is often compared with another complex system that has enormous problem-solving power: the digital computer. Both the brain and the computer contain a large number of elementary units—neurons and transistors, respectively—that are wired into complex circuits to process information conveyed by electrical signals. At a global level, the architectures of the brain and the computer resemble each other, consisting of largely separate circuits for … Continue reading Why Is the Human Brain So Efficient?

How a new therapy uses VR to help those with depression, trauma, PTSD, and other mental health issues

Virtual reality isn’t used solely in gaming; VR therapy could help us overcome our fears, or even recover from past traumas. by Chi Kin Dominic Chan  A friend once described to me what it was like living with depression: “Think back to the worst day of your life, maybe a break-up or the loss of a loved one. Remember the emptiness in your chest, the listlessness in the mornings, and how all you felt like doing was curling up in bed. Now imagine feeling like that every day, with a voice constantly screaming that it’s your fault.” Living with a … Continue reading How a new therapy uses VR to help those with depression, trauma, PTSD, and other mental health issues