The Last Question

In his 1956 story The Last Question, Isaac Asimov has human beings ask computers of increasing power the Ultimate Question. You know, the one about Life, The Universe, and Everything. And the question goes something like this —

HOW CAN THE ENTROPY OF THE UNIVERSE BE MASSIVELY DECREASED?

In six scenes, in which humans evolve and their computers get more and more sophisticated, the answer always comes back something like this. No, not ’42’, but

INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER

Eventually, in the Universe’s dying gasp, the very last human asks the gigantic mega cosmic hyper computer this same question, and … but I’d be spoiling it.

Well, what with the current fuss and brouhaha over quasi-intelligent wordybot ChatGPT, I thought I’d try it out. This is what happened.

entropyScreenshot 2023-01-25 155806

… from which I learned that ChatGPT doesn’t quite have the succinct elegance of a professional SF writer.

It doesn’t have much of a sense of humour either. When I asked it

HOW MANY BEANS MAKE FIVE?

the answer came back

beanzScreenshot 2023-01-25 155919

Which suggests that the way to tell the difference between true intelligence and a simulacrum is to tell it a joke.

About Henry Gee

Henry Gee is an author, editor and recovering palaeontologist, who lives in Cromer, Norfolk, England, with his family and numerous pets, inasmuch as which the contents of this blog and any comments therein do not reflect the opinions of anyone but myself, as they don't know where they've been.
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