Is there a limit to human comprehension?
Are there some things that human mind can never understand? And, what is needed to fully comprehend the universe?
The human mind has achieved a lot in terms of understanding the nature. From Aristotle’s philosophies and Newton’s laws to Quantum Physics and Molecular Biology, we understand the our world and the cosmos far better than any other species on this planet. But is there a limit to our understanding ?
We still have no answers to questions like , What is the origin of time? What is consciousness? Is there a free will ?
Are these questions beyond human comprehension.
We can teach chimpanzees, our closest genetic relative, some circus tricks but there's no way you can teach them calculus. That's simply beyond the realm of a chimp brain. But any human, with a bit of effort, can learn calculus.
Even though we share almost 99℅ of DNA, the difference between our cognition level is vast. Are those questions that I mentioned above similar for the human mind as calculus is to chimpanzees. So do humans need just a 1℅ boost to finally get to the next level of cognition? If it's so, then there are three possible scenarios to get there.
First option is natural evolution. Humans are continuously evolving. Although we do not see any significant changes at the macro level, at the molecular level evolution is taking place in full swing. But I doubt we humans will leave it to evolution to improve our brains. Natural evolution is way too slow. So I will rule this one out.
Second option is to create machines that can "think" and "understand". This machines are called Artificially Intelligent. As you might already known, we already use AI applications everyday. Evrytime you Google something or shop online you are using AI. But how are today's AI applications helping us in science.Companies like Zygemen are developing AI scientists that formulate hypothesis after surveying scientific literature, then plan and run experiments to test their hypothesis . And finally they interpret the results and write their findings. But we do not have a fully autonomous AI yet. They still need human assistance of some sort or the other. But here arises an ethical question, Who gets the credit for the discovery ; humans or the artificially intelligent machine?
And the third option is the artificial enhancement of the human brain. Instead of waiting for evolution to do its job, we can enhance our brains directly. Elon Musk's Neuralink is centered on creating devices that can be implanted in the human brain which would enhance the brains capabilities. And he is not the only one. Kernel is another start-up that is trying to enhance human cognition. In fact, Ray Kurzweil has predicted that by 2045 we will multiply our effective intelligence by a billion fold by merging with the intelligence we have created.
Practically both the second and the third options will be used simultaneously(I will discuss about the difference between an Autonomous AI and a artificial enhanced brain in a future article). Machine learning based systems are already assisting scientists and researchers and soon we will have enhanced brains due to companies like Neuralink.
Eventually it all comes down to one thing - how are we going to use it? Misuse it and humanity is doomed , use it well and we become masters of the universe
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