Computer animation shows us exciting things that do not exist: giant space stations revolving in planetary orbit, dinosaurs attacking, spaceships entering the atmosphere, mutants traveling through fantastic landscapes bathed in gorgeous light. Will cameras soon become obsolete and will all images be created in the computer? Will actors cease to work, will films be populated by characters spawned by a CPU?
It sometimes seems that the artificial is making inroads. Automation is increasing, and virtualization has grabbed the movie industry. But there is one moment in real life that computers cannot do and won’t be able to do for many years to come. It is the one key essence of life: chance.
Chance and Life
Life is spontaneous. It is subjected to chance. It is unpredictable, and our perception judges things by probability.
This is so engrained into us that if we encounter something predictable we don’t perceive it as real. What’s more, it bores us to hell.
Life is spontaneous, subject to chance. Its unpredictability is its key characteristics.
A movie that can’t surprise us is unbearable. We can’t stand the ham actor who reels off a sequence of cliche grimaces that we have already seen a thousand times instead of acting in the moment. Once we know what will happen, life has gone out of it.
Algorithms are predictable
Anything computer-generated is generated through an algorithm. An algorithm is a formula to tell a machine what to do under which circumstances.
Anything a computer creates is by definition a mathematical computation. Mathematical computations are predictable.
Mathematical computation is the opposite of the unpredictability of life.
When you watch CPU created beings, the regularity of their movements gives them away. With a real being, each step is slightly different, but with a computer generated they are all the same.
And there’s weight. Weight and gravity and its interaction with body mass is so difficult, that only the best painters could handle it. With moving images out of the computer, the task is even greater. And at the moment you can see the lack of weight in animated beings.
Huge dinosaurs hop and bounce across the meadow, a million ton spaceship floats like a balloon. The interactions are so complex that is comes close to be impossible to foresee, and is just like chance.
If you don’t believe me, ask any mathematician about the three body problem. And these are only three bodies. And it’s often not solvable already.
Artificial intelligence – the road to unpredictable computation?
What we call AI are sets of data crunching algorithms and instructions to follow. Those complex sets of algorithms, married to execution instructions, are not intelligent. The intelligent is only in the building phase.
AI is a set of mechanical instructions without consciousness. Its complexity makes it feel like there’s an intelligence behind the computer.
Quantum computers may change that. Quantum theory is a science where incalculable relationships prevail, and chance.
Will Quantum Computing be able to compete with life.
Quantum theory describes the chance character of the real world. Any event that happens is influences by the laws of physics and by chance.
Theoretically you could create chance events with quantum computers and make creations lifelike. But the question will be: what kind of life will it be? Ours? Or a new form of self-replicating reality?
Fuzzy logic could be the key to solving the chance problem and the task of incalculable amounts of bodies interacting.
Once we know what will happen, it is no longer life.
We cannot be fooled easily. We can recognize people that are just appearing at the periphery of our vision, and we can recognize people walking in the distance and from behind just by the way that tiny blob moves – immediately connecting it to a wide range of experiences with people, and matching it with the right memories.
Creating living machines and digital creations that seem alive will be an art form and far above what engineering is today. It will go beyond what can rationally be planned. We will reach a point, where naturally born beings and artificially created ones will be accepted as alive in the same way.
With all its consequences.