Infinite space may be mind-blowing, but infinite possibility is far weirder. Stars, galaxies, and gas clouds fill space by the trillions, no two exactly alike. Down on Earth, evolution creates "endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful," as Darwin famously wrote. Human culture is ceaselessly creative. Even when artists trod familiar ground—when pop stars strum the same chord progressions or authors write yet another biography of Abraham Lincoln—they manage to create something never before seen.
Computer systems conspicuously lack this open-endedness. They'll do a task you spell out for them, and they might even surprise you with an out-of-left-field solution. But then they stop. "We want to create new solutions forever," said Olaf Witkowski of Cross Labs, an artificial intelligence (A.I.) skunk works based in Kyoto, Japan. "And that’s the problem of A.I.: It plateaus." Witkowski spoke on the issue at the last FQXi conference:
Read the full interview at FQXi.