The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine

artificial intelligence

George Takach — Cold War 2.0: Artificial Intelligence in the New Battle between China, Russia, and America

Shermer and Takach discuss: Vladimir Putin: “artificial intelligence is the future not only of Russia, but of all mankind, and whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become ruler of the world.” • what AI will be able to do in the coming decades • China’s surveillance state • Russia and Ukraine • Cold War 1.0: Autocracy, Democracy and Technology • Cold War 2.0: AI and Autocracy and Democracy • semiconductor chip supremacy • biotechnology • how China’s invasion…

Can We Trust AI to Make Decisions?

A discussion of the evolution of AI from rule-based systems to data-driven machine learning, highlighting its advantages in adaptability and efficiency. Over-reliance on AI may stifle innovation and diversity in decision-making, leading to a rigid and less adaptive system. The authors emphasize the importance of human imagination and experimentation in driving progress and avoiding a decisional monoculture.

Is AI a Threat?

Marc Defant discusses the potential threats and capabilities of artificial intelligence, particularly focusing on OpenAI’s GPT-4 and its advanced abilities.

Why Should We Pursue Human Intelligence With AI?

In the quest for intelligent machines, approaching, or even surpassing human intelligence, has been a prominent dot on the horizon since the 1950s. Aside from the various technological challenges, I believe this quest is enormously difficult for three reasons: We don’t have a clear picture of exactly how intelligence works in humans. We have no […]

Lisa Kaltenegger — The New Science of Planet Hunting in the Cosmos

Shermer and Kaltenegger discuss: Carl Sagan and his influence • Sagan’s Dragon • ECREE Principle • how stars, planets and solar systems form • how exoplanets are discovered • Hubble Space Telescope, Kepler Space Telescope, James Webb Space Telescope • The Origin of Life • Fermi’s Paradox: where is everybody (the Great Silence, the Great Filter) • biosignatures • technosignatures • Dyson spheres • Will aliens be biological or AI? • interstellar travel • Kardashev scale of civilizations • how…

AI and Uncertainty

Maggie Jackson discusses the importance of uncertainty in artificial intelligence (AI) and how it can lead to more collaborative and adaptable systems. Openly uncertain AI models are being developed to improve transparency and allow for better human-AI interaction. By constructing AI that admits its uncertainty, AI can work with humans to achieve complex goals and align with human preferences.

Nick Bostrom — Life and Meaning in a Solved World

Bostrom and Shermer discuss: An AI Utopia and Protopia • Trekonomics, post-scarcity economics • the hedonic treadmill and positional wealth values • colonizing the galaxy • The Fermi paradox: Where is everyone? • mind uploading and immortality • Google’s Gemini AI debacle • LLMs, ChatGPT, and beyond • How would we know if an AI system was sentient?

Eve Herold — Robots and the People Who Love Them

Shermer and Herold discuss: social robots, sex robots, robot nannies, robot therapists • flying cars, jetpacks and The Jetsons • Masahiro Mori • emotions, animism, mind • emotional intelligence • artificial intelligence • large language lodels • ChatGPT, GPT-4, GPT-5 and beyond • the alignment problem • robopocalypse • robo soldiers • robot sentience • autonomous vehicles • AI value systems, and their legal and ethical status.

Eric Schwitzgebel — The Weirdness of the World

Shermer and Schwitzgebel discuss: bizarreness • skepticism • consciousness • virtual reality • AI, Turing Test, sentience, existential threat • idealism, materialism • ultimate nature of reality • solipsism • evidence for the existence of an external world • computer simulations hypothesis • mind-body problem • truths: external, internal, objective, subjective • mind-altering drugs • entropy • causality • infinity • immortality • multiverses • why there is something rather than nothing.

Byron Reese — How Humanity Functions as a Single Superorganism

Shermer and Reese discuss: • organisms and superorganisms • origins of life • the self • emergence • consciousness • Is the Internet a superorganism? • Will AI create a superorganism? • Could AI become sentient or conscious? • the hard problem of consciousness • cities as superorganisms • planetary superorganisms • Are we living in a simulation? • Why are we here?

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz — What Determines Who Succeeds in the NBA?

Shermer and Stephens-Davidowitz discuss: why some countries produce so many more NBA players than others • the greatest NBA players adjusted for height • why tall NBA players are worse athletes than short NBA players • How much do NBA coaches matter and what do they do? • In a population of 8 billion today compared to centuries past, where are all the Mozarts, Beethovens, Da Vincis, Newtons, Darwins, etc.?

Adam Frank — Aliens: Real and Imagined

Shermer and Frank discuss: origin of Life • Drake Equation • Fermi’s Paradox • UFOs and UAPs • Projects Sign, Blue Book, Cyclops, Grudge • AATIP (Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program) • Alien Autopsy film • SETI & METI • technosignatures & biosignatures • aliens: biological or AI? • convergent vs. contingent evolution • interstellar travel • Dyson spheres, rings, and swarms • Kardashev scale of civilizations • aliens as gods and the search as religion • why aliens matter.

Not So Hopeful Monsters

I’m a Monster Biologist. No — that’s not a self-aggrandizing professional description. I actually think about the biology of monsters. Twenty years ago, when I first conceived of Biology 485 as a rigorous treatment of “Why Things Aren’t,” I figured that it was already nearing obsolescence. Surely the speed of information through this new-fangled Internet, […]

Leroy Hood & Nathan Price — Why the Future of Medicine Is Personalized, Predictive, Data-Rich and in Our Hands

Hood, Price, and Shermer discuss: why we age and die • sickcare vs. healthcare • the 10 most popular drugs in the U.S. work for only about 10% of treated people • chronological age ≠ biological age • life expectancy, life span, longevity, and healthspan • why eliminating all cancers would only increase average life span by 3 years • genome vs. phenome • gut biome • optimizing brain function • brain plasticity • sleep, nutrition, exercise • Alzheimer’s • AI and…

Simon Winchester — How We Transfer Knowledge Through Time

Shermer and Winchester discuss: how to become a professional writer • ChatGPT, GPT-4, and AI • knowledge as justified true belief • What is truth? • Are we living in a post-truth world of fake news and alternative facts? • education, past and present • books and the printing press • the history and future of encyclopedias • museums: repatriating objects taken during colonialism • print and broadcast journalism • internet and knowledge.

Michio Kaku on How the Quantum Computer Revolution Will Change Everything

Shermer and Kaku discuss: AI, GPT, sentience/consciousness, the end of humanity • decoherence • Uncertainty Principle • multiverse, parallel universes, and Many Worlds hypothesis • Einstein • the evolution of the computer • the origin of life • climate change solutions • feeding 10 billion people • gene editing • curing cancer • immortality • simulating the universe • UAPs and UFOs • chaos theory and indeterminism • Are we living in a simulation? • Is there a God? •…

AI SciFi — David Brin on ChatGPT and Whether AI Poses an Existential Threat

Shermer and physicist, science fiction author, and AI expert David Brin discuss: AI and AGI • are they existential threats? • the alignment problem • Large Language Models • ChatGPT, GPT-4, GPT-5, and beyond • the Future of Life Institute’s Open Letter calling for a pause on “giant AI experiments” • Asilomar AI principles • Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Time OpEd: “Shut it All Down” • laws and ethics.

Kevin Kelly — ChatGPT, OpenAI, and Excellent Advice for Living

Shermer and Kelly discuss: protopian progress • ChatGPT • artificial intelligence; an existential threat? • evolution • cultural progress • self-driving cars • innovation • social media • putting an end to war • compound interest and the long term effect of small changes • why you don’t want to be a billionaire • beliefs and reason • setting unreasonable goals • persistence as key to success • probabilities and statistics, not algebra and calculus • investing: buy and hold • how to fully become yourself.

Testing Determinism

The philosophical problem of free will and determinism—how can humans have any sort of volition in a world determined by the laws of nature?—has troubled thinkers since the time of the ancient Greeks, and here in the 21st century there is still no consensus among thinkers on a solution to the problem. Can science help? Is there some way to test determinism? There is, says Gary Whittenberger, in this evocative article in response to a debate in the pages of…

Martin Rees — Can Science Save Us?

Shermer and Rees discuss: existential threats • overpopulation • biodiversity loss • climate change • AI and self-driving cars, robots, and unemployment • his bet with Steven Pinker • his disagreement with Richard Dawkins • how science works as a communal activity • scientific creativity • science communication • science education • why there aren’t more women and people of color in STEM fields • verification vs. falsification • Bayesian reasoning and scientific progress • Model Dependent Realism and the…

Skeptic Magazine App on iPhone


Whether at home or on the go, the SKEPTIC App is the easiest way to read your favorite articles. Within the app, users can purchase the current issue and back issues. Download the app today and get a 30-day free trial subscription.

Download the Skeptic Magazine App for iOS, available on the App Store
Download the Skeptic Magazine App for Android, available on Google Play
Download the Skeptic Magazine App for iOS, available on the App Store
Download the Skeptic Magazine App for Android, available on Google Play
SKEPTIC • 3938 State St., Suite 101, Santa Barbara, CA, 93105-3114 • 1-805-576-9396 • Copyright © 1992–2024. All rights reserved • Privacy Policy