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Multiverse physicist Max Tegmark switches gears; seeks AI to combat “news bias”

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Readers may recall him from the four levels of multiverse he advocated in Scientific American in 2003. But forget that. He now thinks there is too much bias in American media and he is working on an AI program to combat it:

Recently, he was interviewed at New Scientist about his thoughts about AI and the current focus of his work, which is using machine learning “for good” to identify news bias, which he feels that humans flub…

From a news writer’s perspective, it’s hard to see what use his program would be. The advent of concepts like fake but accurate, “truthiness,” and “post-truth” in this decade signals intractable differences of opinion about what truth even is. An algorithm is not going to solve that.

Analysis sites like Snopes tend to get captured by one side in political controversies; indeed, last year, Snopes declared a ridiculous war on the Christian satire site, The Babylon Bee, apparently taking the satirical sketches for news items. Similarly, the process of assigning “Pinocchios” when questioning statements by public figures is easily corrupted. Political statements are full of ambiguities and nuances. Only those on the other side of an issue typically perceive a statement to be a “lie.”

The risk with well-intentioned ideas such as Tegmark’s is that power brokers may push to treat an AI-based fact/bias checker as infallible when it simply reflects the shared philosophical biases of its programmers.

Denyse O’Leary, “Multiverse physicist Max Tegmark seeks AI that checks news bias” at Mind Matters News

See also:

Consciousness is two hard problems, not one. Psychology prof Gregg Henriques argues, consciousness “plays by a different set of rules than the language game of science”

China: Sophisticated surveillance decides who gets sent to Uuyghur camps. The leak of documents from police in Karakax County in Xinjiang reveal the details of everyday life that can send a Uyghur to the camps.

and

Is Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon right re the multiverse? Robert J. Marks comments: Sheldon Cooper insists that in no universe would he dance with Penny.“Some claim, there is an infinite number of universes in the multiverse. That is ludicrous because there are no infinities in the physical world. Even if there were, Cantor’s theory of the infinite shows that, if there were an infinite number of contingencies, not all contingency combinations could be accounted for by an infinite number of universes.”

2 Replies to “Multiverse physicist Max Tegmark switches gears; seeks AI to combat “news bias”

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    The fundamental and fatal flaw in Tegmark’s belief that AI can, supposedly, operate in a non-biased fashion, i.e. can spot news bias, is that the bias of the programmers themselves is literally built into the computer algorithms. As Greg Coppola, (a former software engineer for Google who was fired for blowing the whistle on bias in Google’s programming), put the situation in 2019,

    – Greg Coppola to Tucker Carlson: “algorithms don’t “write themselves”
    Excerpt: “Basically, any software launch reflects the outcome of thousands of human decisions. If you made different human decisions you would get a different result. And so, if you see a resulting end product that seems to encode a bias of one sort or another, there must have been that bias in the process that produced the end result. Because, like I say, different human decisions that went into the process would produce a completely different result.”,,, “In my experience, as algorithms get more complicated and more advanced, that only means that they have more human decisions going into them. So there is actually more opportunities for human beings to influence the final product.”,,, “If people aren’t able to think critically about all the information that they are being given, especially if there is this kind of illusion that maybe somehow technology exists in a world that is completely apart from humans. That somehow you can create a computer that will think for itself and be free of any human biases, then people can be easily misled or manipulated.”
    – Google Insider, Greg Coppola, Talks Political Bias at Google On Tucker Carlson
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu5-VQuFU_g

    In July 2019, Greg Coppola was interviewed by Project Veritas on camera. He stated that he thought Google was clearly exercising political bias in its algorithms. Within 24 hours he had been placed on leave. In August 2019 another Google employee, Zach Vorhies went public with Project Veritas.
    https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Greg_Coppola

    This leads to an even more fundamental and fatal flaw in Tegmark’s thinking. Tegmark is an atheist who does not believe in free will. Yet free will is necessary in order to create new axioms in mathematics (and computer algorithms).

    Algorithmic Information Theory, Free Will and the Turing Test – Douglas S. Robertson?
    Excerpt: Chaitin’s Algorithmic Information Theory shows that information is conserved under formal mathematical operations and, equivalently, under computer operations. This conservation law puts a new perspective on many familiar problems related to artificial intelligence. For example, the famous “Turing test” for artificial intelligence could be defeated by simply asking for a new axiom in mathematics. Human mathematicians are able to create axioms, but a computer program cannot do this without violating information conservation. Creating new axioms and free will are shown to be different aspects of the same phenomena: the creation of new information.?http://cires.colorado.edu/~dou...../info8.pdf

    In fact, not only does Tegmark not believe in the free will that is necessary to create new axioms in mathematics (and algorithms), Tegmark, in his 2015 book, ‘Our Mathematical Universe’, believes whatever is mathematically possible is real as a universe or is real in some universe.

    Moreover, on top of all that, (as if that was not bad enough), besides an infinity of other universes being based on whatever is mathematically possible, Tegmark also holds that he himself to be nothing more than a ‘consistent mathematical structure’.

    In the following article, George Ellis remarks that “Tegmark has argued that every consistent mathematical structure exists in some disconnected universe. Tegmark also believes that nothing else exists beyond the consistent mathematical structures. Tegmark is himself nothing more than a consistent mathematical structure. This is a view that assigns to mathematical structures a degree of agency that they are not otherwise thought to possess.”

    Physics on Edge – George Ellis – August 2017
    Excerpt: Tegmark has argued that every consistent mathematical structure exists in some disconnected universe. Tegmark also believes that nothing else exists beyond the consistent mathematical structures. Tegmark is himself nothing more than a consistent mathematical structure. This is a view that assigns to mathematical structures a degree of agency that they are not otherwise thought to possess.
    http://inference-review.com/ar.....cs-on-edge

    Also in critique to Max Tegmark’s 2015 book, Our Mathematical Universe:,, Sheldon Glashow, professor of Mathematics and Physics at Boston University, quips that “I may be a blockhead but I am certainly not a mathematical structure akin to a triangle.”

    A Hand-Waving Exact Science – Sheldon Glashow
    Excerpt: And our ToE is just one among an infinity of mathematical structures, each of them its own universe. If Tegmark is correct, there must exist a slightly different mathematical structure, whose equations are emblazoned on another T-shirt, wherein I am Tegmark’s psychiatrist rather than a physicist. I do not believe a word of it. Paraphrasing Danny, I may be a blockhead but I am certainly not a mathematical structure akin to a triangle.
    – Sheldon Glashow
    Sheldon Glashow is professor of Mathematics and Physics at Boston University and professor emeritus of Physics at Harvard University. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979.
    http://inference-review.com/ar.....ct-science

    Thus, in his denial of his own free will, and in his assigning “to mathematical structures a degree of agency that they are not otherwise thought to possess”, Tegmark is forced into the insane position of claiming that he himself is nothing but a ‘consistent mathematical structure’, i.e. a deterministic meat robot doing the bidding of whatever his particular ‘consistent mathematical structure’ may demand that he do.

    Such an insane belief that Tegmark is forced to hold, (forced to hold because of his denial of his own free will), would not even make a good science fiction novel, much less does his belief make any sense in the real world. As George Ellis noted in Einstein’s denial of his free will, ” if Einstein did not have free will in some meaningful sense, then he could not have been responsible for the theory of relativity – it would have been a product of lower level processes but not of an intelligent mind choosing between possible options. I find it very hard to believe this to be the case – indeed it does not seem to make any sense.”

    Physicist George Ellis on the importance of philosophy and free will – July 27, 2014
    Excerpt: And free will?:
    Horgan: Einstein, in the following quote, seemed to doubt free will: “If the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the Earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was traveling its way of its own accord…. So would a Being, endowed with higher insight and more perfect intelligence, watching man and his doings, smile about man’s illusion that he was acting according to his own free will.” Do you believe in free will?
    Ellis: Yes. Einstein is perpetuating the belief that all causation is bottom up. This simply is not the case, as I can demonstrate with many examples from sociology, neuroscience, physiology, epigenetics, engineering, and physics. Furthermore if Einstein did not have free will in some meaningful sense, then he could not have been responsible for the theory of relativity – it would have been a product of lower level processes but not of an intelligent mind choosing between possible options.
    I find it very hard to believe this to be the case – indeed it does not seem to make any sense. Physicists should pay attention to Aristotle’s four forms of causation – if they have the free will to decide what they are doing. If they don’t, then why waste time talking to them? They are then not responsible for what they say.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....free-will/

    To refute Tegmark’s belief that every consistent mathematical structure exists in some disconnected universe, and that he himself is ultimately nothing but a ‘consistent mathematical structure’, I would like to introduce Tegmark to Kurt Gödel’s incompleteness theorem in mathematics. i.e. ““Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove”.”

    “Gödel’s incompleteness theorem (1931), proves that there are limits to what can be ascertained by mathematics. Kurt Gödel halted the achievement of a unifying all-encompassing theory of everything in his theorem that: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove”.”
    – Stephen Hawking & Leonard Miodinow, The Grand Design (2010)

    In short, contrary to what Tegmark believes, Godel’s incompleteness theorems prove that ‘we cannot construct an ontology that makes God dispensable.’

    THE GOD OF THE MATHEMATICIANS – DAVID P. GOLDMAN – August 2010
    Excerpt: we cannot construct an ontology that makes God dispensable. Secularists can dismiss this as a mere exercise within predefined rules of the game of mathematical logic, but that is sour grapes, for it was the secular side that hoped to substitute logic for God in the first place. Gödel’s critique of the continuum hypothesis has the same implication as his incompleteness theorems: Mathematics never will create the sort of closed system that sorts reality into neat boxes.
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    In other words, contrary to what Tegmark believes, it is not mathematics from which we must derive our ultimate ontology of being, but God himself from which we must derive our ultimate ontology of being. As Paul preached to the Greeks in Athens

    Acts 17:28
    For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

  2. 2
    Fasteddious says:

    Rather than looking for ways to monitor and decide whether something posted on the Internet is “biased”, we should go back to teaching basic logic, typical fallacies, and how to read critically so that readers can judge for themselves how true something is, and which biases are on display.
    Alternatively, every article should come with a disclaimer stating, “there are other perspectives on this subject”, and the author should be required to post a link to one or more of those other perspectives.
    Another possibility: put a delay of say, three to five minutes on posts? When an author presses “submit”, or “post”, a warning should come up asking whether the writer has considered other perspectives on the subject, and is willing to stand by what he/she has written. How open to contrary viewpoints and evidence is the author?
    Of course, that would not work either, but hey, we need some way to tone down the polarized polemics and diatribes that seem to be getting worse (i.e. more biased) every year.

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