Context: How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Science

“The latest AI algorithms are probing the evolution of galaxies, calculating quantum wave functions, discovering new chemical compounds and more. Is there anything that scientists do that can’t be automated?”

The definition of utility provided through this axiom-bound approximation to intelligence may be (as though by stealth) starting to itself become the measure, standard and value-system by which (all human) intelligence and conceptual utility is reflexively defined. While there may be many logical pathways through the bristling thickets of material fact and systemic complexity, those that align to a rationale of maximally compressible algorithmic information are in the ascendancy.

Such teleologies are perhaps inevitable – cosmological, cultural and cognitive systems (all) clearly provide ample evidence of distributed computation and information processing. Science as information system also finds itself to be a procedurally-iterating approximation to optimally concise theories (or programs) from which material reality or complex systems states might then be reproduced.

An open question: for all of the benefits to be derived from analyses and theories derived from the exploitation of machine learning and an associated heuristics of data-driven algorithmic reasoning, are we in some regards also just (more) rapidly painting ourselves into an abstract corner to which the spectre of logical incompleteness was long ago displaced ?

We may not own or possess these ideas, logical methods and concepts so much as they own and possess us; we may not inhabit the integrated systems of extended cognition, technology, rationality and logic so much as they inhabit us. In a mad dash to mastery and adversarial or collaborative one-upmanship in those various games that we are all compelled to play, we might just have missed – by virtue of an endemic epistemological blindspot or rank narcissistic inevitability – that we and all of our science (from a pure information systems perspective) are merely the medium through which this self-propagating logical shockwave is passing. The unfolding patterns, exploratory revelations and emergent complexity of Artificial Intelligence may not ultimately reveal itself to be as useful to us as we (and all our aspirations) turn out to be to it.


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