Let's say that there is no higher being. There is no god or creator. Life came to exist just by a series of chemical reactions and other processes.
If you think that way, then we can discover the meaning of life: there is none.
That is what we fear and why we still cling to religions that tell us a different story. They try to convince us that we are special and we are here to be good and to go to heaven.
Well, we are designed to fear meaninglessness of life. Evolution made us that way. We are highly evolved beings. So are mammals, amphibians, birds, and even bugs. They all fear or try to avoid death. Because death is a threat to a species.
All species that did not care about the survival of the species died out because they did not worry about their own survival. Since humans are one of the most highly evolved organisms, we are highly selected for survival. We are one of the best species at survival. Since feeling that life is meaningless is a threat to survival, we naturally refrain from such beliefs.
However, natural selection and other evolutionary processes made us intelligent--intelligent enough to think logically without emotion and gut feelings. This enabled us to discover objective truth about the meaning of life: life is fundamentally meaningless.
That life is meaningless is hard to believe, because all of evolutionary processes have been working against that. But the same intelligence that enabled us to survive also enabled us to understand that life is meaningless (for some people) at least.
Well, it is sort of an irony. I understand the persistence of religion. I would like to believe that I can enjoy eternal happiness in heaven. But logic of my brain and my belief in reason deny me such pleasure. I think if life is meaningless, then there is no point on living it. Well, that is true. But everything ends eventually. The universe itself will die some day. Even if humans survive even the death of the universe, we cannot survive the infinity of time. We will all die eventually. Well, I don't want to accept that. But that's the truth.
The point is that we don't necessarily have to kill ourselves because life is meaningless. I don't understand going suicidal because you just realized you have to die. Why not make a meaning out of the meaningless? If we think that it's meaningful, then it is meaningful to us. But I don't want people losing their choices just because of certain religions.
Religion is a method of remedying the blow done by the meaninglessness. But I don't think the meaninglessness is too great. Religion still keeps us relieved but I don't think that should limit ourselves or hamper our happiness. Religion shouldn't be as strong as it is right now. It's time to stop clinging to religions indiscriminately. It's time to make a choice. If we think choice is important, then it is.
I acknowledge that writing this, this very act of writing is meaningless. But, well, I'm still a person and I believe happiness of all people is important. So I write this. I found a meaning in this and there exists meaning because I said it is meaningful.
I hope you see the world as meaningful.
It can be lucky that we are living in a world of advanced technology..
Or it can be quite dreadful that we have to face all the ethical questions that will come from unbelievably powerful technologies.
There are two areas of research that have the potential to change the world forever: artificial intelligence and genetic engineering.
The Future of AI
This video is the best I could find.
From what I understand from my study of AI, AI probably will increase in its intelligence in an exponential rate--just like the human Genome project was like. In that rate, AI will surpass human intelligence or collective humanity's intelligence in a very short time. Since intelligence equals power, we have to make sure we keep AI on our side or on ethical majority's side. With nearly infinite intelligence, humans will be able to develop technologies far beyond our current knowledge. That may lead to a world like Matrix, where we upload our consciousnesses so we can survive indefinitely and we can get whatever we want.
On Generic Engineering
This is from my favorite channel Kurzgesagt (which I have no idea how to pronounce). This video does such an awesome job of explaining the future and consequences of genetic engineering that I don't have to explain much.
Anyway, I feel that both events will eventually take place. Maybe AI will turn against us. Maybe that scenario is an inevitable one. Then, humans might fight the AI with genetic engineering, turning humans, in turn, into infinitely intelligent beings. Sounds like a terrible scenario and it is in our point of view. But as the Kurzgesagt's video tells us, if we have the power to do something there will be proponents (like 'we have the ability to fix our child's genetic disease, so we want to do it'). So like it or not I think this will be our future. I neither like it nor dislike it. I'm excited by what we will be able to do but scared about how different we ourselves will be.
Have you ever watched a video? (I guess this is a stupid question).
Then you must have returned to earlier part of a video. Expressing this action in any language (as far as I know) can be quite confusing because of varying perspectives on the issue.
Say, you want to return to earlier part (2:00) of the 10-minute long video. This action can be put on two kinds of "frame of reference." One is based on the passing of the time as the video progresses. Conventionally, the video runs from left to right and top to bottom. And most non-Arabic speaking people (because Arabic is read right to left) think of left as something older. So some might say that rewinding to 2:00 of 10:00 long video as "going back."
While this expression makes sense another case is true. Since still most people think of earlier part as something that preceded or something that is forward, going to the earlier part of the video can be expressed as "going forward," as well.
Now compare the two expressions. "Going back to 2:00" and "Going forward to 2:00." The two seems to be expressing something opposite to each other, but, in fact, they are expressing the same thing, just in different perspectives.
Similarly contradicting perspectives exist in expressing what is "before me." Conventionally, what is "before" something is what is in front of something (this is the same in Korean or Chinese because Korean's Chinese loanwords regarding the same issue has 전면 'in front of', 'before' meaning before in time as well as space, just like 'before' in English). For some time, I was confused by "in front of" being the same as "before." I think that is because I thought of before as in the past in time. So I thought the past is behind me so 'before' should be behind me, not in front of me. But the other way of thinking can be employed to explain this away. In front of me is before me because people walk forward not backwards. If you are walking forward, things in front of you are things that are yet to be experienced or "before" you. Things you passed by are things after. In addition time is thought as passing by you just like a static object in the road you are walking on. So temporal preposition like "before" is applied to things that are physically in front of you. So "I see the future before me" is possible.
This matter has been quite confusing to me. Just like understanding that when you face someone, left and right are switched for the person. But these things are quite interesting and mind-boggling at times.
Entering a public restroom, I found a toilet with the thing you flush your toilet with (I don't know what you call it) on the right side in the perspective of a male who is peeing :). Well, it would have been convenient if I were a right-handed male who is merely peeing. However, that restroom is for both sexes, and not everyone is right-handed, nor not everyone take a benefit from the position of that thing.
Statistically speaking, the majority of toilet users will find that particular location not helpful. The great majority of people is right-handed. And all females, in general, take care of their biological business sitting. Males take their poop sitting. So in general and in conclusion, only males who are right handed and peeing are the ones benefiting from the particular position. Traditional position of flushing thingy is good for the majority and I think it should stay that way.
Well, effect of the Korean War is pretty well known. But that prosaic effect is not what I am talking about.
With brevity, the effect of the Korean War, personally is that my grandfather moved south. Why is that personally significant? That is because that was how I came to be born. Without my grandfather moving south (he lived in present-day North Korea; my grandfather is much older than North Korea), he couldn't have met my grandmother who is from south. My father was born because of Korean War and thus I was born because of Korean War.
I feel I am digressing, but every single historical events all happened in order to make me born. And make you born. Magna Carta in Britain made me born. I think that is very likely and true. For a hypothetical example, Magna Carta's provision established a parliament and that might have facilitated trade around Northern Europe. That increase in trade might have connected a couple to marry, who might have never met. That marriage or arranged marriage results in a birth that otherwise might have never happened. The boy born was a prominent figure. He creates an enormous trading company, making its name heard to the silk road. Great trading in Britain surely makes silk road boom. That boom encourages more people to become merchants. Silk road connects to China and even to Korea. More merchants in China might have travelled to Korea. And some merchant might have chanced upon a girl in Korea and another marriage may have happened. And that girl and the Chinese merchant might have been my great-great-...-grandfather. In truth, my last name "Won" has come from China around a thousand years ago, around the time of Magna Carta. Well, I think there is a link between Magna Carta and my birth, however weak that may be.
Anyway, I am really sad that I cannot continue writing this, for I have SAT Subject tests to take next week. I am a pretty good crammer, probably because my mother was a wondrous crammer.
Just a rough sketch (yes, rougher than sketches that are already rough) of my vision and my idea.
Since I would love to have a lot of people or people-like beings to speak my conlangs, I dream of programming a real AI that can really function as individual humans. Then, I can have millions of computers speak my conlang, and have them create my conlang's culture and history.
Since we are far far away from creating a real AI not just a imitating machine that barely passes the misplaced Turing tests, it will take a long time to create an AI like that. And I am interested in NLP and AI.
So create an AI that is as smart as humans and have it speak a language. At least a machine that talks like humans (however, to talk like humans it has to be as smart as humans, I believe).
Anyway with AP tests done and SAT2 tests a month away, I will work on NLP with Python and other stuff to widen my knowledge on NLP and AIs.
For this year's summer, I will develop a converter that can "convert" Korean into my conlang Arian. That will not be that hard because Arian is not truly an original language but a kind of an English form of Korean. It simply has to recognize each parts in Korean and convert into Arian words and syntax.
So eventually I would be able to contribute to the research and development of AIs. Hopefully.
As a mere high school student, I am no expert in AIs, but I am trying to be one.
Anyway, as a philosophical soul, I've been pondering about the philosophy of AIs. If humans are able to create an AI that thinks, talks, and behaves just like humans, how are we going to treat it? Will we enslave them and have them fight for their civil rights as intellectual beings? Will that bring about the demise of human race?
These are really interesting questions and only the time would show us the answers.
I think that AIs just like humans will be developed within a century at the very most. I think it's possible to see one like it in 50 years. Since humans are no special other than their great intelligence (for I am an atheist and believer in science), AIs, in my opinions are no different from humans, if they can talk, think, and behave like humans.
AIs like that are basically other humans beings. We are becoming the Creator in the Bible, in which I do not believe.
If we are to be egotistic and anthropocentric, sure we can and stop short of creating perfectly human-like and conscious AIs. However, I do not think that humans can stop short of doing that. Human societies are competitive. Competition places advantages on those who adventure. And humans sure will endeavor into the forbidden area of conscious and human-like AIs.
Just like humans who cannot alter their nature with conscious effort (as illustrated by the failure of utopian societies, communism, and failure to recognize the fact that humans are never stopping to alienate the minority--whether the minority was the Jews or the Blacks or the homosexuals or future AIs), mankind in the future will still fail once more to recognize the rights of conscious beings called AIs. Unless humans try tremendously to stop the natural alienation and enslavement of AIs, a civil rights movement or a war by the AIs may be inevitable.
But AIs provide us with things that is still only possible in our imaginations. We can study the historical linguistics as it happens by making AIs talk like humans but in rapid manner. We will be able to observe things that takes too long to observe among humans. AIs might find the true utopian society that may or may not exist.
Maybe we can make clones of ourselves as AIs. Then what we would question will be AI-clone of me is really me? Is it really possible to transform true myself (not another being with the same identical makeup but experiences) into an AI or possibly the Matrix world?
Well, I feel like it's going all over the place, but I just wanted to share some of my thoughts on the future. I just want people to know that we are mere flesh and chemicals governed by neural firings that make up our consciousness. Only by the means of the randomness of electron's movement are we able to generate true soul-like thing. I don't degrade human's existence, but I don't think there is any God, and I am able to believe there is no afterlife, because I am not ill and I am not old and I am not facing death in a few years. Though I know I will go to the church to find the answer if I am old and about to die, my obsession with the truth will drive me toward atheism and godless world.
I think religion empowers us, so I guess it's not bad to use it to empower us, not to dis-enlighten us.
Like always, ideas and thoughts come to my mind when I'm taking a shower. I heard that it was because your mind is able to roam around while you're relaxing or taking a shower. Divergent thinking it is.
Anyway, it must have been excruciatingly hard for people who lived in ancient times to realize the principles of science as we now know.
Consider this: You were born into an ancient society. It has extremely strict culture as to forbade challenging the wisdom of the elders.
Well, science is doomed in that case. And that was the case for all human societies at the time. Of course, the elders knew more than the young. But what the elders knew wasn't science, but mere collection of common sense and biased conclusions from experiences.
Not only that, you would have to realize that what seems the simplest thing to humans is not really the simplest thing there is. What I mean by this is that you might think that water and dust are atoms (as did ancient Greeks). But it was impossible to think of a thing so small that you can't see, because you can't see it. Since you don't know the existence of real atoms, you do not feel the need to develop microscope or other device to really see it.
Paucity of really scientific knowledge and the interference of religion, common sense, and biases render scientific endeavor in ancient times extremely difficult.
It is truly amazing how we humans managed to break out of such biases and impediments to achieve the great science of our age.
I never considered myself a humorous person, but I think that this joke that came to my mind isn't so bad after all:
What do you call a SAD GATSBY?
If you don't get this, here is the explanation:
The Great Gatsby's main character is sad when his lover Daisy is not around. So sad Gatsby would lack a Daisy, thus "lackadaisical."
Jin Woo Won
An undergrad at Columbia University, studying Computer Science and in particular artificial intelligence.