Today I was giving a talk on space exploration to the eighth grade class at my daughter’s school. Their theme for this period is ‘Identity,’ so we did some discovery questions about the identities of planets and stars. Then, because so much space exploration is about looking for life, I asked them about the identity of life. We got it down to the usual answers like eating and pooping and reproducing. Then I said, “I see no one suggested ‘intelligence.’ Can we have life without intelligence?” It was decided that we could.
Then I asked, “Can we have intelligence without life?” There was immediate agreement and vigorous nodding. I did a double take, and one of them helpfully explained: “AI.” I recovered and remarked that that was not an answer I would have gotten twenty years ago.
Tomorrow’s adults have a good idea what’s coming.