You can have a better or worse understanding of it, but we are all clear that physical there is only one. Or so we think. It is governed by a series of fundamental variablessuch as distance and time, which in turn can be used to build up others more complex, such as acceleration. However, if the fundamental variables were different, we could speak of a totally different physics. And although it seems somewhat crazy, it is precisely what has been achieved by a artificial intelligence whose case has just been described in Nature Computer Science.
Human beings cannot fight against what we learn from the environment that surrounds us. From a very young age we instinctively understand what distance or time are. It doesn’t matter if the first is the number of little steps you have to take to reach the embrace of a mother and the time is the number of sobs from which someone comes to comfort you. The fact is that children are capable of understanding these physics variables. Therefore, it is impossible to know what a world would be like without knowing them. It wouldn’t even be possible from the eyes of a baby. But yes from those of a robot.
For this reason, a team of scientists from the columbia university decided to train an AI algorithm in a different way than usual. Generally, they are taught a few basic concepts about how they should see the world. But this time everything has been left open to first impressions, so the results have been very interesting.
The artificial intelligence that does not see physics like us
To train this artificial intelligence it was taught multiple photos of moving objects. Later, with new images, they were asked what variables were involved in each of them.
The first was a static double pendulum. If we ask a human being with knowledge of physics, he will say that there are four variables, namely the angle and angular velocity of each of the arms.
As for artificial intelligence, it also detected four variables, but they were not the same. He couldn’t give them names, but he could measure them and build graphs. It is true that the first two were similar to the way we would measure arm angles. But the others did not have nothing to do with angular velocity. It would be easy to think that it was simply a mistake. However, using those four variables, artificial intelligence was able to perfectly predict changes in motion of the object. I was using the physics correctly, but it was a different physics.
The same thing happened when he was shown other moving objects and sequences, such as a lava lamp or the flames of a fireplace. The variables that the artificial intelligence detected were not the same as ours, but they worked.
Humans don’t know everything.
It is clear that we humans have a lot to learn about physics. There are still many things we do not know. For example, in quantum physics there are many phenomena that we do not understand. Physicists develop theories, such as string theory, to try to understand them better, but we still have a lot left.
What if we were not using the full potential of physics? Scientists have long wondered what would happen if there were a alien civilization. Would they understand physics in the same way that we do? Can there be civilizations capable of measuring and even living in five dimensions, as in Interstellar?
All this is a lot to assume. However, this artificial intelligence has shown us that perhaps physics goes far beyond what we know. Your algorithm is giving these scientists the clues, but they don’t have a way to explain them. will have to learn to speak with him to find out.