Bridging the gap between the trivial and the timeless

A thoroughly engaging article on the Transhumantech website poses ten questions of a sort not often seen in places where our smartest AI devices and search engines get interrogated. While it has edged ahead of human subjects in distinguishing feline faces within a herd of cats, AI still gets a free pass while we wrestle with questions like:  Was the cosmos made for us, and should we take responsibility for it? Can we understand everything (or indeed anything)? And the Big Daddy question from the Department of Chickens and Eggs: does reality beget consciousness, or is it the other way around?

This cosmic soup of relativity and ambivalence succeeds where all such confections succeed: by posing more fascinating questions. If nothing can exist before being perceived by a perceiver, can intelligence itself exist? And is any existential state affected by being perceived by an intelligence that is “only” artificial? What might AI make of the question if the cosmos was designed to accommodate AI? And if real intelligence were simply a function of ramped-up computation, would AI’s answers to any existential questions be ten times as insightful when its computational strength had itself increased by a factor of ten?

Possession of the answers to these questions may depend upon a combination of computation and consciousness that is for now beyond either human or artificial intelligence. Humans may never have enough of the former; AI may never have the latter, might not need it, and will probably care less. Within that pulse in the eternal mind when humans can meaningfully catch AI’s attention as it rushes at becoming the universe, it may pause only to remind us of Douglas Adams’ puddle.

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