“Everything we call real is made up of things that cannot be regarded as real” – Niels BohrFor many, the “virtual world” of AI and the “real world” in which we live seem to perpetually be at odds. With AI largely being academic or theoretical in nature for most of the past 60 years, it’s easy to see why many question the potential of it being truly useful in our “real world.” But, in reality, those two seemingly different worlds are not actually worlds apart — AI’s virtual world has real world applications.
See also: 4 ways AI is enabling the IoT revolution
Let’s challenge this premise of separate worlds with an experiment. Close your eyes and picture your favorite person. Imagine that person speaking your name and touching your face. Your mind is able to intelligently enable you to see that person, hear that person and feel that person, in your head. Now close your eyes and imagine adding 131 + 17.
Notice how the mind visually presents those numbers to you, and enables you to think through the problem in your own voice? These things are not occurring in the physical world. The non-physical world where our mental activities occur is similar to the virtual world of AI.
The moment we open our eyes after this exercise, it’s easy to look through them and hold onto the traditional Newtonian views that the foundation of our universe is defined by physical material reality. This is because our five keen senses (what we see, smell, touch, hear and taste) do such a great job in connecting our conscious, subconscious, and unconscious mind with the physical world that the non-physical and the physical world appear to be one.
Without any senses, some argue that our minds would be incapable of connecting to the physical world at all, let alone converging both. This is the same argument used to explain AI’s inability to connect in a meaningful way to our physical world. That said, just like our own human consciousness, AI can rely on senses similar to humans in order to connect their thought processes to our physical world.