Meaning Machines | Frankology 80

People are meaning-making machines. We search for meaning in almost anything we do, even when we don’t know we are doing it. Similarly, we attach meaning to almost everything we encounter, even where there is none. One might say this has served us well when you consider the speed of our advancement comparative to other species, but that would be wrong, at least to some degree.

Considering the word “advance,” we can agree there is nothing else we know of like it. The sheer speed of advancement is mind-boggling but, comparing this to other species is plainly incorrect. Advancement and evolution are not the same things. As far as scientists can tell, we have evolved little in our current embodiment. There are a few small changes one could point out, such as the ability to digest milk, which should not be trivialised. Being able to digest milk would have changed the world accumulatively for many nations. In the same breath, there are still small groups of people who cannot digest milk and so the importance of this might be null.

Comparing our evolution is the only real marker we can use. That said, might we not look back millennia from now and view our advancement as a type of evolution? After all, there will come a time where we will achieve true cyborg status, we are already growing organs, and it is likely that in time we could transplant our consciousness, effectively achieving immortality. What could this be other than evolution?

There is just one problem with this idea and it is our doggedness in trying to attach meaning to everything. A hot topic at the moment is who and what AI will eventually be. Will we be able to control it or will it control us, ultimately even eradicate us? Assigning meaning to everything is not logical and so the machines (AI) are unlikely to do this. Meaning, they are likely to “evolve” faster than we can as they do not suffer the constraints we do.

What or where exactly we as a species will end up is impossible to say. What we know, meaning makes us human. For better or for worse, without it, we are just star-dust. For some, this might be ok but for the rest of us, we need more. This too, is ok.