Reality is not what it used to be | Pirelli
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Reality is not what it used to be

Reality is not what it used to be 01

Cogito, ergo sum.

I think, therefore I am.

I think, I ask questions, so I am real.

The famous Cartesian formula, although outdated, still echoes today.

This is the recurring question to which the most varied answers gave been given over time: “Who are we?”

The two elements that comprise it reassure us of our existence and our distinctiveness: we are here, we are real and we can say this because we think, we ask questions, we imagine. A concept of being human based on reality and cognition. Today, both pillars are challenged by new technologies.

For a start, reality is not what it used to be.

It is no longer just hallucinations or dreams that counter what we call real: technology allows us to realise what we imagine so precisely that it fools all our senses.

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At this point our question resurfaces: who guarantees that I am here and that I am real? Faced with the evidence of such an immersive and credible other reality, especially in perspective, doubt is legitimate and is reinforced, for example, by the stringent logic of a philosopher such as Nick Bostrom in his simulation hypothesis. In a nutshell: if a human being can create a simulation so similar to what we call reality that it is indistinguishable, then a simple probability calculation clearly shows us that to think that we are the first to succeed in the universe, or even that ours is an original reality, is at least symptomatic of arrogance.

If that were not enough, the other element of the system, the cogito, is also severely tested by artificial intelligence technologies.

The gloves are off.

In the face of what we perceive as a threat – these objects capable of giving us the impression of thinking and understanding us – there is a belief that there is still one thing that is peculiar to human beings and that no machine can acquire: creativity. Only we humans would be able to create, make art, innovate. The trouble is that this idea is based on a romantic notion of creative genius, which scholars say concerns perhaps 1 per cent of creative ideas. In fact, even creativity has rules and can therefore be described with mathematics and programmed.

What do we have left?

A lot: stories, culture, values. The human being is a marvellous organism rooted in individuals connected in time and space who are capable of designing fascinating and powerful technologies and questioning their inventions with common sense and responsibility.

And that really is something to believe in.