Jonathan Salem Baskin

Author, Advisor, Agitator

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As many large companies prepare next year’s sustainability reports, it’s important to note that nobody cares. Well, very few people care, and they fall into three little buckets: First, specialized interest (or pressure) groups await the reports so they can check on how badly companies are falling short on whatever idealized goals the groups have […]

The percentage of US national income in the US going to workers has dropped by a tenth over the past 20 years. Automation is partially to blame. This observation comes from substantive research recently published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and it turns out the impact of automation on workers is doubly […]

DeepMind’s AlphaStar AI can now beat almost any human player of StarCraft II, one of my favorite video games of all time, according to the MIT Technology Review. Its programmers figured out that it wasn’t enough to enable AlphaStar to play zillions of simulated games in its silicon brain, using them to teach itself how […]

The belief that development of a sentient or self-aware AI is simply a matter of enough data, connections, and processing speed is based on the premise that human consciousness is the product of material objects and processes, too. Francis Crick, the less overtly racist half of the duo who discovered DNA’s double helix, published a […]

I got to thinking about this question today after reading about the death of Victoria Braithwaite, a biologist who believed that fish feel pain (and feel happier in tanks decorated with plants). Lots of experts pushed back on her research findings earlier this decade, claiming that fish brains lacked a neocortex, which meant they weren’t […]

A new sleep-aid robot comes with a birth certificate, but is it alive? A reviewer for The Guardian’s “Wellness or hellness?” thinks not, after having reviewed the cushion-spared device that’s supposed to help users relax and fall asleep. “I would rather spoon a fork,” he concluded. The smart pillow comes equipped with sensors so it […]

Patent offices around the world are considering two applications that credit AI with an invention, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. Both stem from work done by DALBUS (which stands for Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience). DALBUS was built over the past decade by Stephen Thaler, a tech […]