AI in Space: Is the Sky a Limit?

When talking about AI, the conversation often moves towards the subject of immortality and the question whether technology will eventually lead us to this holy grail of science, philosophy and religion. After all, isn’t that what humanity has always jearned for: to conquer death and live forever?

This wish, however, may very well prove to be our death sentence. Not nuclear weapons or artificial intelligence, but the shortsighted quest for immortality might ultimately be humanity’s destruction. It could even be a solution for the Fermi-paradox: Why aren’t there any aliens around here to be seen? Well, that’s because they’re all immortal. They might exist, but they’re not alive, at least not the way we see it. Either that, or they are just as stuck in their corner of a galaxy, unable to travel the vast distances in space, as we are. We simply don’t have enough time.

Life could be viewed as a system that takes energy from its environment and uses it to, at least temporarily, stop entropy from doing its work. Entropy is often called “the arrow of time” and that’s what happens: living takes time (and money). One thing about death is that once you’re dead, you can’t die anymore. Which means that you’re now immortal indeed. Turn that around and the conclusion is: In practice, immortality is equal to death.

That’s because true immortality (in the sense of really living infinitely, unable to ever die, as opposed to just having a very long life of, say, a million years or so) comes with the logical consequence that time no longer plays any part. In fact, time would not exist anymore, since there is an infinite amount available which means that anything you could ever experience in your “life” happens an infinite number of times. Actually, the Universe should already be completely crammed with immortals by now.

But what happens when our Universe comes to its end, wether it’s in a Big Crunch, a Big Bang or whatever? Surely even immortality isn’t going to protect anyone from that? If you take the word literally at least, then yes it should. Immortal is immortal, independent of any universe or galaxy. To say it with Isaac Amivov, “The Last Question” is: How on earth should such an entity be imagined?

So don’t be afraid of death but be grateful to it: It is the reason you live.

National Geographic – Year Million
How Will Artificial Intelligence Affect Your Life – Jeff Dean
When Will Machines Take Over? – DW
Life 3.0 with Max Tegmark – Boston Museum of Science
Brain Factory – Cécile Denjean (Docland Yard/ Arte France)
PBS Space Time – Matt O’Dowd
Closer to Truth
Fraser Cain
Denis Dmitriev
The Artificial Intelligence Channel

Music: Kraftwerk – The Robots