If you're anything like me; you're in two minds about artificial intelligence and what it could mean for our society.
On one hand we are excited about cars that crash less, fewer mistakes in hospitals, fewer mundane jobs, better education freely available across the planet - your basic panoply of good outcomes. Weighed against this is the looming fear of an all controlling technical overlord that robs humans of our primacy on planet earth, and enslaves us as the inferior beings we will turn out to be.
Well, today - one of the best among us - stuck one in the eye of AI on behalf of us messy humans. The idea would be too bananas to be taken seriously, if it weren't for the fact it was made by Sir Roger Penrose, oh - and that we can now see evidence of it in the lab.
The idea is this: Our brains use quantum gravity, and other quantum effects to create consciousness. Yes, quantum gravity - that thing whose very existence is widely disputed and cannot even be seen with the Large Hadron Colider, may well be part of the operative physical mechanism that gives rise to consciousness in mammals.
If Sir Roger is unfamiliar to you - well, he's a man worth paying attention to; a good ol' fashioned polymath. Emeritus professor at the Mathematics Institute at Oxford University, Order of Merit of the Empire, Fellow of the Royal Society and winner of the Wolf Prize in Physics (Which he shared with Stephen Hawking for his work on black holes) - and by all accounts a jolly nice chap, too.
He's launched a new institute with one of my favourite people; James Tagg - the restless bundle of energy who invented of the touch screen, Wi-Fi calling and other inventions too numerous to mention here [but some fun ones include a make-up matching app for his wife's wardrobe which went viral, and another was a new way of making coffee in a cafetiere that stops the grains from turning the last cup into sludge].
The institute will aim to show how quantum mechanics and Einstein's theory of relativity work together, and how this is operative in the human mind; using an interdisciplinary approach to science and a relentless sense of curiosity.
James Tagg, who can't help but make things that make money, believes this could stimulate an entirely new epoch in technology development. And frankly, I wouldn't bet against him.
Who said that everything worth making has already been invented?
Maybe we're not obsolete just yet.
“We know that there are things that the human mind achieves that even the most powerful supercomputer cannot but we don’t know why.