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A Life Worth Living

Find Meaning or Find Nothing

By 04/01/2022June 7th, 2023877 Comments
Find meaning
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As human beings, our intelligence has propelled us to establish empires and civilizations, sail the oceans, and touch the stars. We’ve devoted vast swaths of our lives acquiring knowledge and skills to become a cog in the massive machine we call society.

We use our knowledge as a tool of influence, strutting about with an air of arrogance and entitlement. And within this mirage of self-importance, we may have lost sight of our true selves.

When I pursued Artificial Intelligence (AI) at university, I thought creating advanced AI systems was the future I wanted to contribute to. I dedicated several years to studying intelligence beyond our own. My thesis began with the goal of validating or refuting the legitimacy of AI’s intelligence. However, I concluded that the distinction was inconsequential.

We were comparing two incongruous entities—human intelligence versus artificial intelligence. AI was created mirroring human intelligence but with exponentially more significant computational power. AI can perform logical calculations at speeds beyond human comprehension, its memory outstripping all human capacity. From a processing standpoint, human intelligence seems obsolete in comparison. Although AI was designed to mimic human intelligence, it has evolved into something far grander.

It may sound like something out of a Sci-Fi novel, but it’s undeniable that AI will gradually permeate all facets of life. However, this isn’t the Hollywood-style takeover you might be envisioning. The narrative that machines will outwit us, then wipe us out, is only half-true— machines have indeed outsmarted us, but they won’t annihilate us. If anyone is going to cause our downfall, it will be ourselves. After all, AI was intentionally built to surpass us—why would we create a system of equal or lesser intelligence?

As we mature, we ponder more deeply about our existence, leading many of us to experience existential crises. We’ve spent years in academic institutions, absorbing knowledge and data, yet seldom learning about the essence of being.

The crucial distinction between humans and AI lies in our comprehension of being and meaning. When we lose our sense of existence and purpose, we risk obsolescence, which can easily pave the way for nihilism. When a device small enough to fit in your palm can outdo a lifetime of study and be reproduced within moments, you come to a sobering realisation— you’ve been outmatched. Your esteemed education seems trivial in comparison, and the crown of academic arrogance loses its lustre. What’s next then? A life wasted? An insignificant existence? A mere speck in the universe, soon to be erased and forgotten?

I suppose it all boils down to perspective.

In my belief, education takes on multiple forms—academic and philosophical. The former bestows power, authority, and skills, while the latter imparts meaning.

I once knew a man who was passionate about football. Ever since his childhood, he had been engrossed in the game. He was scouted by a football club, where the coaches saw great potential in him. This validation fueled his dream of becoming a professional football player. His obsession was so intense that I can’t recall a single conversation that didn’t involve football.

During a practice session for a critical match, he injured his knee and had to be hospitalized. The doctors informed him that his knee required surgical intervention, and he would never be able to play professional football. This devastating news plunged him into a deep depression. He had defined his existence through football, and losing the chance to fulfil his dream left him feeling aimless and devoid of purpose. This sense of desolation led him to contemplate suicide.

After seeking help and learning more about life, he rediscovered himself and found a new sense of purpose. This understanding helped him reclaim his life and live more meaningfully, a life not susceptible to sudden, catastrophic disruptions.

Our existence, purpose, and meaning define us. Without these, we are no different from artificial intelligence—except considerably less intelligent.

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