Stephen Wolfram Q&A

Submit a question

Some collected questions and answers by Stephen Wolfram

Questions may be edited for brevity; see links for full questions.

March 21, 2018

From: Interview by Tim Urban, New York Magazine

Have we seen extraterrestrial intelligence? What might that mean?

Well my own suspicion is that the first form of nonhuman-aligned intelligence that we’re getting exposed to is artificial intelligence. My guess about how things will develop historically is we’ll get more and more used to the idea of AI and nonhuman intelligence and so on. Eventually, we’ll get used to the idea that there are these kind of nonhuman intelligences embodied in what’s possible in the computational universe and what we can use for AI. Then we’ll realize that actually lots of things out there in the universe are intelligence-like things. And we’ll eventually realize the resolution of the Fermi paradox is, yeah, in some sense there’s intelligence in lots of places in the universe; it just hasn’t happened to be historically aligned with our particular intelligence.

Now we might turn out to be lucky in a sense, and it might turn out that in the space of possible intelligences, there are some whose history is sufficiently similar to ours that we can kind of point to a lot of these details of human intelligence and say, “Yeah, that’s a replication of that”. But it’s hard to know what this kind of space of possible intelligences looks like—how far apart the different things in it are. And that’s my feeling about the resolution of the apparent paradoxes—there’s intelligence in lots of places in the universe, it’s just that it doesn’t happen to be in detail aligned with our idea of intelligence.

Contact | © Stephen Wolfram, LLC