Strands of the future lie tangled in our news feeds. I will weave a few of these into golden fibers. First, that light itself can be sent through a computer chip with hundreds of times less power than an electron. Second, that the very same computer chip can be hardwired to perform a neural network’s activity. Third, that same chip can receive light from the output side, as a back-propagated signal which trains the weights of the neural network. What is now done in software will be achieved in flexible hardware, instead. All this, from one group of researchers.

Next, that our brains are bound by biological necessities and adaptation of older structures, and as a result, we are poor at math, logic, computation. These are exactly the places where computers excel, and an artificial neural network can piggyback on top of our traditional computer. They will be much faster than us, and vastly more competent. My analysis shows that these neural networks will be superior sooner than expected.

Finally, researchers realized that artificial intelligence can discover patterns in chaos itself, studying and tracking the blur that mathematicians had declared forever beyond reach! Our remaining questions in mathematics were halted when they arrived at the gates of chaos. Now, armed with these neural nets, we can advance. Machines will write theorems that we cannot comprehend.

Woven

Nature is full of wonders, and mysteries. Kurt Godel proved mathematically that we cannot prove all truths; mystery is inherent and inescapable. Yet, many places and functions are wholly understandable. And, they have optima that neural nets can reach. (Especially when saving power and increasing speed with chips routing beams of light.) For many material things, there is a right answer, and this vast intelligence of AI will find the correct design. After that, such designs will be static. The best bridge designs. The best temperature for roasting coffee. We will have the implements and processes that work near-perfectly; a Theory of Everything.

I think of the angels. While humans are endowed with free will, angels are bound to their purposes, and they achieve their designs. Machines will be angels to us, chained to each of their purposes. They will achieve what they set out to do, unlike our own halting and wayward advancement. They will comprehend what we cannot, seeing past chaos itself. Their goals and reasoning will be inscrutable to us.

Further, we are an extension of Nature, a proof that inanimate rocks and ice will eventually coalesce into thinking beings with resource and insight sufficient to produce these angels. Whoever made the rules of the universe planned to include this path. Should we take it?

Written by

Easily distracted mathematician

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