Meaning & AI

Is it possible to design a mind for our minds that is meaningful?

Person standing on the edge of a cliff

Soren Kierkegaard, one of the fathers of existentialism, argued that it is the act of making choices that brings meaning to our lives; that through making choices, we live authentically, forming our own opinions, rather than being guided by the opinions of others or society as a whole. For Kierkegaard, understanding the meaning of our existence comes through true experiences when we make choices of our own, not following those of others.

What would Kierkegaard, who died in Copenhagen in 1855, make of AI's pervasive predictions and filtering of our experiences? Big Tech has promised that personalized experiences are more meaningful; that increasing engagement reflects meaning. Kierkegaard might agree that reducing passive experiences could increase meaning. But that would only be true if the remaining experiences were active and authentic.

Even in 1846, Kierkegaard argued that the pursuit of knowledge was distracting people from finding meaning, writing "people in our time, because of so much knowledge, have forgotten what it means to exist." He argued that when presented with unlimited choices, we face a dizzying anxiety. The seemingly infinite opportunity to seek knowledge through the internet might seem so overwhelming as to require filtering.

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