Some of the most suprising and cool things I took away from the PredictionX Video Prediction in Astrophysics with Avi Loeb were his analogies for extraterrestrial life and his calm demeanor in regards to being replaced by AI and robots in the future. Avi said that he hopes one day that, in life sciences, they become able to create synthetic life in the labratory. He compared it to making a cake. We, as humans, are just one type of cake. If scientists used a different recipe with the same ingredients, perhaps they could create another version of human beings. Would it look like us? Would it act like us? Probably not. But that’s part of the open-mindedness that he and Dr. Goodman were discussing that enables us to advance scientifically. Without having an open mind, we wouldn’t even realize that we move with the Earth as it rotates and orbits the Sun. Loeb also noted that in this field, it does not matter what you search for, it matters where you search—he related it to the afikoman search for matzah during Passover which I found to be a very fun analogy. When asked about being replaced by AI and robots, Loeb accepted it nonchalantly. He called them more durable. I found it interesting that he said that humanity needs more modesty in order to accept that fact and also that we need modesty when we start to come into contact with smarter civilizations. I was surprised that he accepted the AI takoever so indifferently, but I guess that comes with the field that he is in.
If I were to ask my own question, I would inquire more about how does one get the initial conditions right for their model? As Loeb mentioned and aided by my knowledge in nonlinear dynamical systems, in systems with chaos, nearby initial conditions will drastically separate as time evolves, leading to very different end states (if they end at al). So I’m curious as to how one determines what the correct initial conditions are in the field of astrophysics. Is it related to measuring the distance light has travelled and the time it took to get there? And if we’re determining initial conditions based on past models and previous reserach, how did the first person to model the universe determine their initial conditions?