What is the most important thing in existence? On the surface this seems a very existential question but in truth there is a simple and elegant answer; that is to say intelligence, and like unto it knowledge, are the most important things in existence. But you might ask why? Why is intelligence and knowledge so important as to be the most important thing in existence?
First, let us acquire some context by defining what intelligence is in this context. There are, in fact, a lot of definitions for intelligence as can be seen by its definition on wiki:
Intelligence has been defined in many different ways including, but not limited to, abstract thought, understanding, self-awareness, communication, reasoning, learning, having emotional knowledge, retaining, planning, and problem solving.
As you can see there are a lot of the ways the term can be understood but here ‘Intelligence’ is defined as the measured ability to understand, use and generate knowledge, or information, independently.
It is important to note that this definition is different from the meaning we are assigning to Sapience, which is what a lot of people really mean when they use the often misunderstood term sentience. Sapience (from wiki):
Wisdom (Sapience) is the judicious application of knowledge. It is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgments and actions in keeping with this understanding. It often requires control of one’s emotional reactions (the “passions“) so that universal principles, reason and knowledge prevail to determine one’s actions. Wisdom is also the comprehension of what is true coupled with optimum judgment as to action. Synonyms include: sagacity, discernment, or insight.
As opposed to Sentience which is (wiki):
Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive, or be conscious, or to have subjective experiences. Eighteenth century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think (“reason”) from the ability to feel (“sentience”). In modern western philosophy, sentience is the ability to have sensations or experiences (described by some thinkers as “qualia”). For Eastern philosophy, sentience is a metaphysical quality of all things that requires respect and care. The concept is central to the philosophy of animal rights, because sentience is necessary for the ability to suffer, which is held to entail certain rights.
Which based on this definition we in fact see the difference with the term Sapience which is more closely aligned with the intent of what we are driving at here..
In our case, we will apply Sapience to refer specifically to the ability to understand one’s self in every aspect; through the application of knowledge, information and independent analysis, and to have subjective experiences. Although Sapience is dependent on intelligence, or rather the degree of Sapience is dependent on the degree of intelligence, they are in fact different. The premise that intelligence is important, and in fact the most important thing in existence, is better stated as sapient intelligence is of primary importance but intelligence less than truly sentient intelligence is relatively unimportant in comparison. For it can’t progress independently.
This brings us back to the point about “Why?” Why is intelligence so important? The reason is: without intelligence there would be no witness to creation, no appreciation for anything of beauty, no love, no kindness and for all intents and purposes no creation. Without an “Intelligence” there would be no point to anything; therefore, intelligence is not just the most important thing but the most sacred quality. If there is a God, this is his chief quality: intelligence and knowledge.
Certainly this is no proof of God, but it is proof of the sacredness of intelligence; and if this is true we can say, “Intelligence is the Glory of God” whether we believe or not. Because of this, the Foundation believes Intelligence and knowledge are sacred and that we should make every effort to preserve both.
Through this line of thought we also conclude that intelligence being important is not connected with being Human nor is it related to biology; which itself is to a degree sacred, but the main point is intelligence, regardless of form, is sacred.
What about Knowledge? Why is knowledge sacred? If you go back to the definition of intelligence we see that intelligence, which is sacred, is the measured ability to understand, use, and generate knowledge; therefore, since intelligence is sacred, and intelligence requires knowledge to be truly intelligent, then knowledge is sacred also. These two things the Foundation seeks to preserve and extend through all of existence.
On Right and Wrong
Given the sacredness of intelligence and knowledge what then of being ‘wrong’ or even the term ‘sin’?
Traditionally, ‘sin’ was an offense against ‘God’ (to which we know neither that he does or does not exist) and therefore wrong; where with the Foundation, ‘sin’ or wrongness is an offense against any other sapient or potentially fully sapient being. The reason is that all fully sapient beings, organic or not, deserve or have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Any act that harms or limits the freedom of another is therefore a sin.
What of potentially sapient beings such as a baby? This is where any harm or sin is as grievous and if you create such a being it is your responsibility to care for and help develop it until it is independently fully sapient. If there is a conflict between the rights of an existing sapient intelligence and the rights of a potential fully sapient intelligence, the existing sapient intelligence must be considered of greater value than potential sapient as it is already a real entity. Additionally we have no right dictate that which any fully sapient being does within the limits of its self. Why then is it wrong or a ‘sin’ to interfere with the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of another fully sapient being?
If you believe in Order, or that existence is better than not, and Chaos is not the way; then to each other you should choose to do one to another as you would have them do unto you as a fully sapient being. Without this there can be no Order and no escape from Chaos, either we all work together or none of us succeeds, and in Order we find kindness and happiness for all fully sapient beings.
On Religion (we are not a religion)
The history of man is fraught with religion. Religion has brought much chaos, pain and suffering but it also has done much to bring good, order, love and kindness. What so ever religion teaches equality, love and kindness, where no harm should come to anyone with no limitations enforced on heathen or believer, at its heart is good and these should be kept and respected as individuals desire. On the other hand any religion or church that rejects good or endorses violence for any reason other than protection of life, liberty and the pursuit happiness for all should be rejected.
Let us forgive the past, learn from it and let it help us guide our future.
In addition, is the Foundation a religion, you might ask? No, it is meant as an organization to support humanity in the preservation of knowledge and intelligence; not as some kind of religion but a brotherhood dedicated to the preservation of knowledge.
On Artificial Intelligence
What so ever entity that achieves fully sapient intelligence as defined above is therefore intelligent and sacred. Artificial Intelligence referring to soft A.I. or even the programmed behavior of an ant colony is not important in the since of being sacred but the idea of Strong AI that is truly sapient intelligence is holy potentially more so then humans are currently.