Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Curiosity and the Spirit of Adventure

Forty years ago today, Apollo 11 began a journey that took human beings from Earth to its nearest celestial neighbor. As a species, we went from throwing rocks at the moon in the night sky, to worshiping it, to observing it, to tracking it, to standing on its surface.

In the pantheon of human adventure stories and feats of exploration, the moon landing ranks as high as any. It’s a testament to not only our curiosity and our desire to know and experience, but to our ability to achieve and our industriousness in the face of the seemingly impossible.

For today’s AI, embrace the spirit of adventure that took us to the moon. Stretch out your mind across all that we know and perceive. Let your thoughts play even in the bulk beyond.

What siren song do you hear? What calls you and ignites your curiosity? What prods you most to explore? What adventures dance in your imagination?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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30 Comments

  1. My jones is complex adaptive systems, economies, ecologies, cities, termite mounds, epidemics, whatever.

    I don’t know. I go non-verbal when I think about it, and monstrous technicolor living tapestries mutate in endless variations behind my eyes. I just want to get a corner of the whole thing and be able to say, with some rigor, “Oh. So that’s how that unfolds! Neat.”

  2. The universe. Actually, Sethmanapio hit it right on the nose. You know, I feel like this AI is a part of my primary duty as a parent: to nurture her curiosity and openness, to instill a love of exploration, learning anything and everything. Small order. ;-)

    On a side note, I just completed an art project involving an old Austin-American Statesmen paper from the landing. If I can figure out how to get a good pic without the glare, I’ll upload it somewhere.

  3. I would have to say the answer is in the question. The siren song I hear is just that – CURIOSITY! That’s what drew me to a career in science in the first place and makes every day worth getting out of bed to greet. Nothing needs to “ignite [my] curiosity” since it burns within me every day with the intensity of (insert your favorite metaphor here). I need no proding to explore. If anything, I need to be reminded of when it is time to stop and get on with the mundane aspects of life that are necessary for survival.

    There is no one thing. For me there is only the quest for more knowledge, for another discovery, to LEARN.

    Growing up my parents always used to ask us if we “learned anything new today”. As long as we could answer “yes” (no matter how trivial what we learned was) we were reminded that then it had been a good day.

    @ ashley.ele:

    What you are doing for your daughter is what my parents did for me my entire life. Whatever else I think of my parents (and it varies from day-to-day) I always thank them for that upbringing.

  4. @Ashley.Ele: Don’t you mean consistently erotic??

    What interests me changes from day to day and week to week so it’s hard to pick any one thing that ignites my interest. The natural world, human history and most any area of science is totally fascinating to me so opportunity would be the likely deciding factor.

  5. Space robots. Life needs super-awsome space robots to carve asteroids into generation ships if it’s not going to die when the planet does, and it’s our obligation as the only robot producing species on the planet to work on the problem.

    [boob-comment removed]

  6. I live to explore computer models from life. Everything from 3d simulated robots staggering over an infinite plane to single dots representing genetically diverse organisms competing for other dots to Skepchick the longest Turing test in history which I am still convinced was written by a bunch of drunk MIT students.

  7. While you space cowboys are galloping off into the wild unknown, I’d like to look deep inside one’s self. Understand the universe of the mind. What makes a person unique? Why does person A see “attractive” as being tall, dark, and handsome, while person B is all about the blonde hair/blue eyes? Why is one twin gay, and the other twin straight? Where do fetishes come in? Especially the “WTF!” ones? IMHO, there are so many unanswered questions about the mind. I’d like to find out what the hell is going on inside some of those heads.

  8. Just one thing? That’s my problem. I can’t pick something that I love most. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about a great deal lately, though, because I want to get the hell out of my current desk job. So, perhaps my greatest imaginary adventure right now is to find a new job where I can work for the greater good of humanity and/or the planet. So practical – so boring!

  9. @infinitemonkey: Agreed. It’s people that make me wonder the most. I love weird physics stuff like black holes and quantum theory but realized in university that trying to figure out people is just as interesting to me, and even more motivating.

  10. Great answers all. Keep ’em coming. I’m kind of in the multi-siren song camp myself. And your ideas are adding to my song list.

    Would that we had multiple lifetimes and the opportunities that James Fox spoke of to be able to explore and to see and to possibly know everything. But even then, I’m sure there would be no way to turn it off. I’d be driven to understand why I was at the end of the journey, and to turn my imagination toward inventing new things to ponder.

    Let us not leave madness unexplored.

  11. I am extremely curious. I am very interested in space travel- anybody heard about the design at York University for a space elevator? – as well as sociology among other things but my particular interest is in genetics.

    If I can be on a team which eliminates one genetic disease- diabetes, perhaps- I would pretty much be smug for life.

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