These days computers are doing so much more than just computing. Our lives have become increasingly interdependent with technology as more and more of our time is spent connected to online networks. Together man and computer are tending toward higher levels of abstraction; and artificial intelligence (AI) as a real manifestation of technology is more meaningful than ever. Still an open question remains: How close will AI actually get to understanding the cosmos?
As you consider the question try not to think about it in human terms — that is, try to step outside of that self-referential loop that is your ego. Get past all those self-preserving instincts that evolution has sown into your mind. It’s hard, but once you’ve achieved this Zen-like concept of reality you begin to press against a realm of objectivity that your Macbook Pro is probably closer to understanding than you are.
Higher Systems Versus Outer Systems
As complex as we think we or any of our technologies are, our understanding of our environment is inevitably preceded by an outer system. We have many names for it — God, nature, the cosmos, etc. What all these concepts have in common is that they represent a complexity that exceeds that of the human mind. By virtue of existing beyond our understanding these concepts can be regarded as a higher intelligence.
I think mankind is too eager to equate AI with this higher intelligence — this outer system. Perhaps we’re just projecting the human condition onto our technology when we imagine what the future holds. I believe we should be paying closer attention to how our technology is already extending beyond the limits of our understanding—how it’s already verging on an outer system of its own.
Whether or not we’ll someday think about AI in terms of consciousness is a different matter altogether. Regardless I think AI will radically change the world and that someday we will in fact make contact with the outer system.
What do you think?
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