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Computation Between the Stars

21 Feb 2018, 17:39 UTC
Computation Between the Stars
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Frank Wilczek has used the neologism ‘quintelligence’ to refer to the kind of sentience that might grow out of artificial intelligence and neural networks using genetic algorithms. I seem to remember running across Wilczek’s term in one of Paul Davies books, though I can’t remember which. In any case, Davies has speculated himself about what such intelligences might look like, located in interstellar space and exploiting ultracool temperatures.
A SETI target? If so, how would we spot such a civilization?
Wilczek is someone I listen to carefully. Now at MIT, he’s a mathematician and theoretical physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004, along with David Gross and David Politzer, for work on the strong interaction. He’s also the author of several books explicating modern physics to lay readers. I’ve read his The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces (Basic Books, 2008) and found it densely packed but rewarding. I haven’t yet tackled 2015’s A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature’s Deep Design.
Perhaps you saw Wilczek’s recent piece in The Wall Street Journal, sent my way by Michael Michaud. Here we find the scientist going at the Fermi question that we have tackled so ...

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