I saw it this weekend. I will say that it's an enjoyable and entertaining movie. But it's something of a logical mess. I'm not spoiling much by saying that time travel features in the story. Early in the movie, there's discussion about how lame movie treatments of time travel typically are. (Back to the Future … Continue reading Avengers: Endgame
John Basl and Eric Schwitzgebel have a short article at Aeon arguing that AI (artificial intelligence) should enjoy the same protection as animals do for scientific research. They make the point that while AI is a long way off from achieving human level intelligence, it may achieve animal level intelligence, such as the intelligence of … Continue reading Protecting AI welfare?
There's an article by Matthew R. Francis in Symmetry magazine garnering a lot of attention asking whether falsifiability is a useful criteria for scientific theories. Popper wrote in his classic book The Logic of Scientific Discovery that a theory that cannot be proven false—that is, a theory flexible enough to encompass every possible experimental outcome—is scientifically useless. … Continue reading The relationship between usefulness and falsifiability
Recently I visited one of my cousins and, as is tradition for a lot of people this time of year, we had a crawfish boil. Eating boiled crawfish (crayfish for you non-Cajuns) is an ever present activity in southern Louisiana, at least when they're in season, and I've had my share over the years. Although … Continue reading Do boiling crawfish suffer?
The Smithsonian has an interesting article up on what we currently know about Neanderthals. The article details some of the internecine battles that always seems to be a part of the paleoanthropology field, in this case focusing on the capabilities of Neanderthals, whether they had art, religion, and other qualities of modern humans. Our view … Continue reading Neanderthals and the beginnings of us
Frans de Waal is a well known proponent of animals being much more like us than many people are comfortable admitting. In this short two minute video, he gives his reason for concluding that at least some non-human animals are conscious. (Note: there's also a transcript.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvehvv9ZOdQ de Waal is largely equating imagination and planning … Continue reading Frans de Waal on animal consciousness
A few weeks ago I recommended Linda Nagata's novel, Vast, the final book of her Nanotech Succession series. Edges is both a sequel to that book, and the first episode in a new series, Inverted Frontier. As in Vast, this is a future where mind uploading and copying is possible, where multiple copies of someone's … Continue reading Recommendation: Edges (Inverted Frontier Book 1)
Kevin Lande has an article up at Aeon which is one of the best discussions of the brain as a computational system that I've seen in a while. For an idea of the spirit of the piece: The claim that the brain is a computer is not merely a metaphor – but it is not … Continue reading The brain is a computer, but what is a computer?
Daniel Dennett and David Chalmers sat down to "debate" the possibility of superintelligence. I quoted "debate" because this was a pretty congenial discussion. (Note: there's a transcript of this video on the Edge site, which might be more time efficient for some than watching a one hour video.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHN_o6RqrHY Usually for these types of discussions, … Continue reading Is superintelligence possible?
Source: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (Click through for full sized version and the red button caption.) My own take on this is that what separates humans from machines is our survival instinct. We intensely desire to survive, and procreate. Machines, by and large, don't. At least they won't unless we design them to. If we … Continue reading SMBC on what separates humans from machines