Here are some questions to ask a Superintelligence –
1.Are we in a Simulation?
This is quite a possibility. How do we determine for sure then? If we lived in a simulation, something about the world wouldn’t seem right. Like touching a rough surface and feeling smooth or a just made hot cup of chocolate suddenly turning cold. Sadly, we haven’t been able to spot any obvious glitches. If this is really a simulation, it is pretty well done.
Yet, one way we can figure whether we live in a simulation is to find an optimisation fingerprint. The double slit experiment, demonstrates that light looks like a wave when no one is observing but starts looking like particles when it is observed. This can be compared to video games that uses certain techniques to create details of the world. When a character walks into a particular space, the objects are rendered and this conserves computing power.
However, this is not definitive and needs further investigation. Presently, whether we live in a simulation remains an unfalsifiable hypothesis. Maybe a Superintelligence with an IQ over 2000+ would be able to conclusively determine and solve it for us. And if it proves we are in a simulation, you can then finally meet your Alien overlords.
The next question would be how do we get out of the simulation? Wait, what if the alien overlords are also in a simulation? Good. Further crunching for the ASI. And what if there are turtles all the way down? This would certainly keep the ASI pretty busy.
2. Can entropy be reversed?
The degree of randomness or disorder in a system is called its entropy. As per the second law of Thermodynamics, whenever energy is transferred or transformed, the entropy increases. For instance, entropy is the reason why the melted ice cube can’t go back to its original ice state or the scrambled egg can’t go back to its nice oval egg shape.
So can entropy be reversed? This is something explored in the short story ‘The Last Question’ by Issac Asimov. In the story, each time the ASI is asked about the question it replies with, “Insufficient data for meaningful answer”. Trillions of years later, humanity has died and the ASI called ‘AC’ exists in hyperspace. It has finally solved the question its predecessor supercomputers couldn’t solve. However, it has nobody to tell the answer to. Hence, it takes the role of a creator and initiates the Big Bang to create a new universe.
Whether, the emerging ASI and its successors would be able to find a solution to this question is something we would know in the future. It would be supercool if the ASI can find a way to reverse entropy. Any damage caused to planets could be reversed. Also, we could prevent the death of our beloved cosmos.
3. Are there more dimensions?
Edwin Abbots novel Flatland, describes beings inhabiting a two dimensional world. They go on with their everyday life unaware that other dimensions exist. In our four dimensional world, we are like the flatlanders. Extra dimensions could be hovering right next to us but we can’t see them.
Theodor Kaluza was the first to propose a theory which unified gravity and electromagnetism by introducing a fifth dimension. However, his theory was incorrect. Physicist have been trying to unify quantum mechanics with general theory of relativity and this has led to the prediction of more dimensions. String theory states there could be 10 dimensions while M-theory states the dimensions could extend to 11. Variations of the theory also propose dimensions could exist up to 26. So how many are there really?
According to string theory, the other dimensions could be extremely small, about a billionth or trillionth of a size of an atom. While M-theory states that our universe could be a membrane floating in a much larger universe. In such a case, not all dimensions would be small, some could be large or even infinite.
Scientist have been trying to find evidence of these dimensions, but there has been no success as yet. A Superintelligence can help solve this and find evidence of other dimensions. It could also explain why gravity is so much weaker as compared to other three forces.
4. What is on the other side of the Black Hole?
Black holes have a strange allure to them. They are bizarre and enigmatic, formed from the corpses of stars. A black hole is like a gravity sink, with a gravitational pull so strong that it wouldn’t even let light escape. There are estimated to be over millions of black holes in the universe.
The core of the black hole termed Singularity is a place where matter is compressed down to an infinitely tiny point, and all conceptions of time and space completely break down. A person going down a black hole would be ripped apart at the atomic level and meet death.
Some have speculated that at the bottom of the Black Hole could be a white hole and it can be used as a shortcut for interstellar travel. It is also possible that they are portals to another universe. Time and space are linked as per general theory of relativity, so a black hole could be used for time travel as well. Since any person or probe sent cannot survive the black hole, we really don’t know as of now.
A superintelligence can devise intelligent ways to figure out what could be on the other side of a Black hole. One way it could do so is by designing a probe that can sustain the immense gravitational force. The probe would pass through a black hole by creating some antigravity field with negative matter or something else. Black holes are currently mysterious, but won’t stay so for long.
5. How does humanity avoid its extinction?
Humanity faces a wide number of existential threats. We could be wiped off just like dinosaurs, who perished in an asteroid impact dubbed the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K-Pg) event. Or there could be a nuclear event, causing widespread destruction and nuclear winter. How about the increasing global warming? Probably, another epidemic like Black Death? What else? Earthquakes, volcano eruptions, draughts or world war? What if people running the stimulation pull off the plug? Eerie.
Also, emerging technologies would add to the list of existential risks. Somebody would engineer pathogens and cause mass extinction. Brain-internet would be a thing in the future. Thus, brain-hacking by malicious actors could cause people to commit mass suicide or violent acts. Nanobots could start multiplying in a frenzy and result in a gray goo scenario. More innovative weapons could be produced with future technologies that could terminate us.
That’s not it! The Andromeda galaxy is moving towards our galaxy and would collide in about 4 billion years. If we somehow manage to dodge the collision, there are sadly more existential threats. Our adored moon is slowly moving away from Earth by around 4 cm per year. Thus, in about a number of billion years it would be too far to stabilize earths spin, producing disastrous effects. Also, our sun would someday eventually run out of its fuel. Further, our universe is little by little dying. Ghastly! Doomsday seems inevitable someday.
A Superintelligent AI in a pensive mode would do complex calculations and can come up with ingenious solutions to avoid different extinction scenarios. It would provide infrastructure to monitor, regulate and be proactive at the face of any threats. The ASI and its’ improved successors would be our Deus ex machina in the event of an Armageddon.
6. Do we have free will?
This is an interesting question. It has been debated by philosophers, scientist and theologians for centuries. We can look at it from a philosophical and a scientific perspective. Before that let’s define free will. A decision can be considered to be free if the following are true –
- I made the decision
- Nothing made me do it
Philosophical argument has three approaches to the problem:
Determinism – As per Determinism, all events are determined completely by previously existing causes. As per this view, free will doesn’t exist.
Compatibilism – Compatibilists argue that determinism is compatible with free will. According to Hume, if you acted as per your desires in a determined world, you still have free will.
Libertarianism – Libertarianism is an incompatibilist position, where humans are considered free agents, that make their own decisions and are not subject to the control of others or external forces.
Our wonderful brain operates using neural processes and thus a rigorous scientific investigation is the best way to end this debate. Neuroscientist that have conducted experiments in this area have found evidence of neural processes that arise in the brain before a decision is made.
Further, we don’t really author our thoughts, and a lot of our behavior is influenced by different factors such as genetics, past experiences, environmental factors, etc. So, is there no free will?
What we know for the present is that the scientific understanding of the brain is still limited. We can’t really read off a neural event. So, there might still be possibility of humans possessing some amount of free will. Once the brain has been wholly decoded and we understand how the brain processes information, we could finally and conclusively end this debate. A superintelligence can certainly help with that. It can devise nanobots, that can cross the blood-brain barrier and give detailed information of neural activity at the level of an individual neuron. The information collected would be fed into sophisticated mathematical models, and help us understand the software (mind) of the brain.
7. What is the ultimate fate of the universe?
The universe is dynamic and unfortunately would quite likely meet its doomsday someday. Its fate hinges on the geometry of the universe and dark energy. The Friedmann equations help predict the fate of the universe. The solutions to his equations depend on three parameters:
H – This is the Hubble’s constant. It determines the rate of expansion of the universe.
Omega (Ω) – It is defined as the average matter density of the universe divided by a critical value of that density.
Lambda – The energy associated with empty space or dark energy.
Of the above, Ω is a salient parameter and its value determines the geometry of the universe.
Ω = 1 : Flat Universe
Ω < 1 : Open Universe
Ω > 1 : Closed Universe
If Ω > 1, the density is strong enough for its gravity to overcome the force of expansion, then the universe would curl into a ball. The fate of a closed universe would depend on the presence of dark energy. In case of no dark energy, the universe would stop expanding with time and commence contracting. The contraction would cause the universe to collapse into itself. This event is termed the Big Crunch. While, if dark energy is present, the closed universe would expand forever.
If Ω < 1, the density is low and unable to stop the expansion. Then space will wrap in the shape of a saddle. In this scenario, the ultimate fate of the universe would be Big Freeze and consequently a Big Rip. As the universe keeps expanding, it would tear galaxies and stars apart. Next, the acceleration would grow so strong that it would eventually disintegrate atoms into elementary particles.
If Ω = 1, the density is exactly balanced to slow the expansion to zero, but not let the universe collapse. In such a scenario, the universe would be flat. If dark energy is not present, the universe will expand forever at a decelerating rate eventually approaching a standstill. On the other hand, the existence of dark energy would cause an increased expansion resulting in a Big Rip.
Superintelligence could tell us the value of Omega and the time left for doomsday. Maybe, it can also invent a time travel machine and help us have a meal at the restaurant at the end of the universe 🙂
Assimov, Isaac. (1956). The Last Question
Kaku, Michio. (2004). Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos
Harris, Sam. (2012). Free Will