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Using xAI to Fact Check 42

We all know that 42 is “The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything” thanks to the deep analytical work titled “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” by Douglas Adams. But, apparently, Elon Musk seeks to fact check this answer using his new xAI venture.

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I am, of course, as excited as the next person to see what happens, but let us get a few things straight. AI is very clever. In fact, I believe AI might be a circular reference, in that we cannot disprove the notion we might already be existing within a giant AI model already, crafted by intelligence well beyond our own.

Barring that, we can get a little more practical. Carbon dioxide for starters. We are tasked as stewards of Earth (although I contend Earth is our steward and can recover from our blunders should we not figure out how to avoid near extinction at our own hands), we are tasked with reducing carbon emissions as part of restoring sustainable balance to this planet. Some folks might debate the urgency. I tend to think it is quite high, but even if it is not urgent, we need to take ownership of the agenda if we want to advance as a species (and be around to enjoy the answers from xAI, AKA Deep Thought 2.0).

AI is a carbon-intensive technology. It is amazing, but so is nuclear energy. Ergo, it is all in how we utilize it. Is asking humanity’s most cosmic question the best use of our remaining carbon balance? On the backs of 6 billion or more people who might perish under our poor “stewardship”? My initial thought (people do change their minds, I am no exception) is no…. no it is not.

One of my favorite lines I used on my children,and which I am sure they have long forgotten, was, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” We have all been at that crossroads. We have all done something we could do, which we probably shouldn’t have done. And let’s face it, there are as many opinions as there are people. But it seems to me, there are a couple things that xAI should ask first.

Questions like how can we avoid catastrophic poisoning of our planet, how can we get off world and tap into the interplanetary and intergalactic abundance that surrounds Earth, and probably my favorite… will frequent flyer miles get diluted when space travel becomes a thing? But we can asnwer that last one after we cure the sustainability question, after we eradicate poverty and level the playing field such that education and base services becoming of advanced species are evident in our global societal tapestry. Right? Let’s do that and THEN go for the cosmic stuff.

Just a thought.

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