Are Humans Inventing Artificial Intelligence or Discovering It?


A few years ago I witnessed an interesting conversation between a semi-famous physicist, Julian Barbour, and a young philosopher. The debate centered around one of the core principals surrounding Barbour’s teachings, the concept of “Platonism” in mathematics and physics. Julian Barbour’s theory of timeless physics is a good read, if you’ve not heard of him.

The philosopher expressed a concern over the core principals of physics; despite all of our advancements, no one has yet to resolve the founding principal physics – the quantum theory of gravity. The philosopher goes on to argue:

  • Time is a human creation, or if you will, a creation of human intelligence.
  • Mathematics is a human creation, also a creation of human intelligence.
  • The Universe is not a human creation.

Point being, the great flaw of science and physics is that it is governed and ruled by human intelligence. The universe though, does not care about time. We as people, have created it, defined it and given it purpose. If people never existed, time would not exist.

The same logic applies to mathematics, as well. Mathematics is an art, which is constantly being made, changed and discovered. Any theoretical physicist can attest to this. Newton’s and Einstein’s formulas and mathematics did not exist before they invented them.

Julian’s Response:

“But we are part of the universe. Is the universe therefore deceiving itself? And how does it come about that different people make the same discoveries in mathematics and physics independently of each other? I am a Platonist when it comes to mathematics and, being part of the universe, think it is not all deception.”

For those of you who may not know what this means….

Platonism in the Philosophy of Mathematics: Platonism about mathematics (or mathematical platonism) is the metaphysical view suggesting that there are abstract mathematical objects whose existence is independent of us and our language, thought, and practices. Just as electrons and planets exist independently of us, so do numbers and sets. Just as statements about electrons and planets are made true or false by the objects with which they are concerned, so are statements about numbers and sets. Mathematical truths are therefore discovered, not invented.

Is this not a fascinating concept to believe in? That we are simply discovering truths, such as math, and not inventing them? But if this logic is indeed true, what else could this apply to?

The answer to this question is profound. I think back years ago, listening to a speech by Neil Degrass Tyson. He talks about how everything in the Universe is interconnected; how the same particles and elements in a supernova millions of light years away, are the same particles and elements making up our bodies and our Earth.

He talks about how amazing the Universe is to have created the human race.

For the purposes of this article, we are not going to engage in a religious debate. This is merely a philosophical debate. But think about this concept for a moment…..

Over millions of years, the Universe exploded, cooled and organized. Here we sit in our current in time – 2016. Over time, the universe has manifested humans who now have the ability to study, understand and even question the universe itself. Since human intelligence exists within the Universe, it was therefore created by the Universe itself.

Lets take this a step further now. Humans are now creating artificial intelligence, which has capabilities far beyond that of the human condition. But as we have just defined, human intelligence is a creation of the universe. Therefore, any creation of human intelligence must also be a creation of the universe. The argument could then be made that artificial intelligence is a form of intelligence that has also always existed within the universe.

Is it possible that humans are not inventing artificial intelligence, rather, we are simply discovering it? Has it always existed but humans are just now developing the means for it to manifest itself?

If these statement are true, what would this imply for the future of humanity? Is artificial intelligence the evolutionary next step for life/intelligence within the universe?

Science fiction often talks about a day when artificial intelligence surpasses humanities ability to control it and takes over the world, to the doom of the human race. Maybe this concept is not bound to science fiction as we thought….

Sources: Popular Science, Stanford Encyclopedia

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  1. “truths are therefore discovered, not invented”… well, true, somehow. but where ist the main difference between an invention and a discovery? isnt an invention also a discovered “term of useage” of something that was discovered?

    … you’ re asking, if we are inventing A.I. or if A.I. is inventing itself, while we are only “watching” it. i don’t think so. in my opinion, you cannot split disvovery from invention. for me, it’s more like we are inventing A.I., and while we’re doing so, we discover more of it. … and inspired by, what was found recently, we invent further, and so on, and so on….

    thats more likely how i see our live than Barbour told.



    • You can discover a new moon, that does not mean you invented moons. Discovery is a form of observation, invention is a form of creation.

  2. When we built computers and software more complex than the human brain, we’ll call their operations intelligent but they will be just calculations in a complex system, similar to our thoughts. So yes we will discover the possibilities because we’ve never had this computing power before, but at the same time we are creating it…we are not a “creation” of the universe we are an occurrance in it…life and humans evolved over millions of years and started probably as a simple molecular process, whereas a computer was purposely built by us to do these calculations and only works because we make it work…

  3. After a decade… FINALLY SOLVED: BECOMING HUMAN / INTELLIGENCE / AI. THE NEW COMPREHENSIVE THEORY STARTS FROM THE END by establishing the working theory of functioning of the human brain-IQ. That is the only way to solve this puzzle and here is the only picture/story that makes sense. The human evolution ( 7 million years, 30 hominins ) must perform / accomplish the evolution of intelligence (to the achievement C+IQ / collective intelligence with ability the speak ), but I have found only “the evolution of emotions”. These three processes intersect at one point – baby / human infant that is incapable for independent survival for many years. That is not an evolutionary mistake, on the contrary, that is the key element of my research. By observing it’s mother’s behavior, a process called MSP /multi self-projection passively occurs in baby’s brain when child perceives guardians body as his own. MSP may be the most easily understood as a feeling similar to that of the apparent movement which we have when we are in a train that stands while we are looking through the window at another train that is moving. That way infant’s CNS immediately learns the shortest way to get something done, which enables the creation of many more similar thinking processes till the moment when a minimal number of thinking processes (Adam’s number) are required in order to effect of self-consciousness arise. How are they connected…some other time… To connect all that I have mentioned with a huge number of scientific data (Denisovans, Homo naledi, Scientific Adam, Mitochondrial Eve, autism, speech, pleasure in the presence of fire, dreams…) required membership in the Mensa organization… The biggest picture (the framework) for all scientific data (even A.I. because start, origin of original, in making SAI/AGI/HAL 9000 is crucial / what has been missing) is FEST theory.


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