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Everything posted by NLN

  1. Hi folks. A bit of shameless self-promotion here, but I hope you'll find that it's worth it. I just finished an interview with Daniel Everett, a linguist with Illinois State University who has attracted a storm of controversy with this theory of language that contradicts Chomsky's Universal Language. The implications are profound for cognitive science, and for defining what makes us human. Machines Like Us interviews Daniel Everett I'd also like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a prosperous new year. All the best, Norm Nason
  2. We also must remember that all children start off being less intelligent than their parents, but as they grow up, many become much more intelligent.
  3. In the recent election, California State ballot Proposition 8--eliminating same-sex marriage--posed complex ethical, legal, religious, and scientific questions. Proposition 8 is the California State ballot proposition that would amend the state Constitution, to limit marriage to unions between a man and a woman--overturning a recent California Supreme Court decision that had recognized same-sex marriage in California as a fundamental right. The official ballot title language for Proposition 8 was, "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry." On the day after the election, the resul
  4. I thought you folks might be interested in reading An Atheist's Creed, by physicist Mano Singham. It's a remarkable piece.
  5. The difference is that with the former, the entity would be self aware; with the latter, it would have no self-awareness.
  6. Was HAL, the computer featured in Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey, a sentient being, or merely the product of "brute force" computation? Since his debut in 1968, HAL has served as the guidepost for artificial intelligence research. More than any other character in fiction, he has represented the enormous potential of the field, and has helped to launch the carriers of many an AI researcher. Calm, rational, and eerily human, HAL would certainly pass the Turing test. But was he actually a conscious being -- an emergent byproduct of some robust future algorithm -- awake and aware
  7. I just finished reading a remarkable biography of Albert Einstein, and want to recommend it. It's called Einstein, His Life and Universe. It's the first biography to tackle Einstein's enormous volume of personal correspondence that until recently had been sealed from the public. It's hard to imagine another book that could do equal justice to Einstein's richly textured and complicated life. It's really a wonderful read, and tells us not only about Einstein's science, but his personal life as well. Machines Like Us
  8. Here's why I don't think it will be possible for a human to ever travel either forward or backward in time: both time and motion would prevent it. Why time itself is the problem: Let's say we have built a time machine. A human steps into it, expecting to be transported to another time. But because he has a physical body composed of trillions of spatially separate and distinct molecules, each molecule would have to be simultaneously transported and reassembled at the other end. It would all have to occur at exactly the same instant, because if it did not, one part of the body would dema
  9. When I was in the sixth grade (longer ago than I care to admit), the elementary school I attended administered a program that has benefited me ever since. Not long before graduating, a single week was set aside to prepare departing students for their move up the ladder of higher education. For five days we no longer attended a single classroom, but rather six, as would later be the case in Junior High, High School and College. Separate teachers instructed us on a variety of topics: Music, History, Art, Science, Literature, and, my favorite—Critical Thinking. This class was taught by Mr. Anders
  10. In this interview, molecular biologist Johnjoe McFadden discusses human cognition, synthetic life, and artificial intelligence. An excerpt: "The basic problem is that our subjective experience of consciousness does not correspond to the neurophysiology of our brain. When we see an object, such as a tree, the image that is received by our eyes is processed, in parallel, in millions of widely separated brain neurons. Some neurons process the colour information, some process aspects of movement, some process texture elements of the image. But there is nowhere in the brain where all these disp
  11. The universe’s clock has neither a start nor finish, yet time is finite -- according to a New Zealand theorist. The theory, which tackles the age-old mystery of the origin of the universe, along with several other problems and paradoxes in cosmology, calls for a new take on our concept of time -- one that has more in common with the “cyclic” views of time held by ancient thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle and Leonardo da Vinci, than the Christian calendar and Bible-influenced belief in “linear” time now so deeply imbedded in modern western thinking.
  12. A new interview with evolutionist/atheist Mano Singham can be found here. To quote him: "Once you concede the idea of a god, you have ceased to think rationally in that area of your life, and are prey to those who preach extreme forms of religion. Of course, most people do not go so far, but that is because most people are not really that religious, though they say and act like they are. In the TV show House, someone asks the title character whether he is an atheist and he replies "Only on Christmas and Easter. The rest of the time it doesn't seem to matter." I think he is right. Most peo
  13. Ben Goertzel is CEO of Novemente, a software company racing to develop the first artificially intelligent agent for Second Life, the internet virtual environment. His creation will learn by interacting with Second Life participants, and Ben in confident that it will meet -- and eventually exceed -- human level intelligence. In this new Machines Like Us interview, Ben discusses his projects in detail.
  14. Controversial Artificial Intelligence researcher Hugo de Garis tells us his thoughts about American science, "brain building," and superhuman intelligence in a new interview which can be read here.
  15. NLN

    Steve Grand

    A terrific new interview with Artificial Intelligence guru Steve Grand can be found here.
  16. You can view the complete article here. It also states that left handed individuals have a slightly increased risk of developing schizophrenia.
  17. In an interview with cognitive scientist Steven Lehar, he argues that the world we see is actually a sort of simulation, represented in our brains. It's weird stuff, but his arguments are quite compelling. Highly recommended reading. I went on to read several of his papers as well. They can be quite technical, but I must say that he may be onto something.
  18. Nothing wrong as far as I am concerned; just interested in what others think
  19. Some say that only God can create life from scratch, but it looks as if man is about to do the same -- maybe as soon as within the next few weeks. This article says that microscopic life is about to be created by humans. If this actually happens, are we playing God?
  20. British artificial intelligence researcher Paul Almond has a new on-line interview available, in which he says: "We had optimistic expectations about when true intelligence or sentience would be achieved in artificial devices, but I think that it is possible. Intelligent machines already exist -- ourselves. The fact that matter can naturally come together to make things like humans that think shows that the process can be replicated. Of course, people argue against this. Some people say we have some kind of “immaterial” or “supernatural” soul. I think that is an incoherent concept. Roge
  21. I'm a Mac user, and have used Safari since its inception, and it has always been my browser of choice. If it functions the same on a PC, I think PC users are really going to like it. Safari has a nice look, is quite speedy, and on a Mac shares bookmarks with the Apple address book application (handy!).
  22. People create beings that are more intelligent than they are all the time. Many mentally retarded couples, for instance, can foster extremely intelligent, superior offspring. And humans also have the advantage of their numbers: no one person is capable of building a modern computer or automobile from scratch, but with many people working on the problem, it can be achieved easily. So it will be with artificial intelligence. We don't have to know how to "program" an AI; only how to build an "infant" AI -- then help it to learn and develope as we do with human children. This is the approach S
  23. Today I read an article saying that scientists have created the world's first human-sheep chimera—which has the body of a sheep and half-human organs. They're working on being able to grow most or all human organs in animals—so they can later be transplanted into humans who need them. Eventually, they hope to precisely match a sheep to a transplant patient, using their own stem cells to create their own flock of sheep. The process would involve extracting stem cells from the donor's bone marrow and injecting them into the peritoneum of a sheep's fetus. When the lamb is born, two months lat
  24. Same thing. Here are two articles where the terms Hard AI and Soft AI have been used: Machines Like Us The Last Human Century
  25. There are two types of AI, and they are not generally distinguished between in the media: soft AI and hard AI. Soft AI includes most of the AI you see out there: systems that are designed to mimic certain kinds of human behavior. Robots like Asimo fall into this category, as do robot vacuum cleaners, internet search engines, speech synthesizers and voice recognition systems, computer vision systems, neural nets and data miners. Hard AI research, on the other hand, strives to actually create systems that can think—first, as an insect or an animal might—and later as a human does. Some of the
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