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For years, people have been debating the subject of artificial intelligence (AI) and how that relates to human consciousness. Are we really made up of the same stuff as machines, or are we something more? We have a tendency to create hierarchies, putting ourselves above animals, machines, and the environment on the totem poll.

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In an effort to solve these questions and put an end to the human consciousness/AI debate, a team of scientists is asking people to solve an incredibly difficult chess game that even computers cannot seem to crack. What separates us from technology if it’s not consciousness, and will solving this puzzle bring us one step closer to answering this question?

The Chess Puzzle That Even Computers Can’t Crack

The release of the chess game that no computer can figure out coincides with the launch of the new Penrose Institute, founded by Sir Roger Penrose, Emeritus Professor at the Mathematical Institute of Oxford, who was awarded the World Prize in physics with Stephen Hawking in 1988 for his research on black holes.

The new institute, which both UCL and Oxford University will be a part of, will study human consciousness, creativity, the inner-workings of the mind, and quantum physics. One of their aims will be to find the difference between artificial and human intelligence. The question here is: Can we even distinguish between human and artificial intelligence, since it is all consciousness?

Nevertheless, scientists have put out a call to the public to solve this chess puzzle that not even computers can unlock. Their theory is that, if we can figure out a complicated and creative puzzle that computers cannot, then perhaps they can discover what exactly makes us unique.

Don’t forget, this “calling out to the public” method has worked in the past. 75 years ago, Bletchley Park searched for skilled codebreakers in the Second World War by placing a crossword in the newspaper, so perhaps this call-out for chess experts will enjoy the same success.

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“If you put this puzzle into a chess computer it just assumes a black win because of the number of pieces and positions, but a human will look at this and know quickly that is not the case,” Sir Roger Penrose from the Mathematical Institute of Oxford stated.

“We know that there are things that the human mind achieves that even the most powerful supercomputer cannot, but we don’t know why.”

Penrose’ chess problem can only be answered if you can figure out how to legally get the white player to either draw with the black or win. Here’s an image from the chess game:


As Sarah Knapton at The Telegraph puts it, a computer will always come to the conclusion that the black player will win in this situation, because seeing those three bishops will force it to perform a massive search of potential moves “that will rapidly expand to something that exceeds all the computational power on planet Earth.”

Penrose thinks that, for the average chess expert, this endeavour should be “easy” for humans to accomplish. If you do successfully solve this chess puzzle, please email your work to In addition, please include an explanation of how you got to your solution, because the explanation in and of itself is what intrigues the scientists.

What Can We Learn From This?

Penrose hopes to figure out whether or not science has, up to this date, been looking at consciousness completely wrong. In his book, The Emperor’s New Mind, he states that not even quantum computers, which have yet to be developed, could compete with our minds. His beliefs oppose those of scientists who compare our brains to computers, like Elon Musk has (read our CE article here).

Science tends to take polarizing views on this subject: Many believe that our brains work like computers, whereas others believe AI threatens the human race, stating that the world could become “devoid of consciousness” if we continue to further develop and rely on AI (read more about that in our CE article here).

These opposing perspectives aren’t necessarily surprising, as we live in a dualistic world. Plus, the ego loves to believe that “we’re different,” and thus in some way superior to others, which now includes AI. What science seems to forget is that everything is made up of consciousness. Everything in the universe is connected, and everything is ultimately consciousness manifested into itself. We cannot have a world devoid of consciousness, nor can AI lack consciousness, because consciousness is within everything in existence.

Now, that doesn’t mean that we are here to serve the same purpose as AI. AI is something that we physically invented, and it currently exists, as far as we know, only to serve the human race and the collective consciousness. Human beings, on the other hand, are souls that are here to undergo the human experience. So, with this logic, it is clear that the fundamental difference between AI and human beings is the purpose we serve, even though we are all made of consciousness.

Science is also just about the physical reality; it is the pursuit for knowledge outside of ourselves. It serves an integral and important role in society and has helped us raise our knowledge and consciousness immensely. However, it is not the only way to access knowledge and learn from this experience, which is something many scientists tend to forget.

Why are we self-aware and how do we measure self awareness? Humans tend to presume that all other beings lack self awareness, but how can we truly say that with confidence? We also spend a lot of time suppressing creativity, as we constantly try to conform, follow social norms, and even take drugs to calm us down. What if the answer lies within us, and by suppressing our creativity, we’re only getting further from discovering the truth?

I’m not suggesting we stop researching these topics. Science definitely plays a crucial role in learning more about consciousness and quantum mechanics; however, we cannot forget that we hold the answers as well. Perhaps if we meditated and looked inward more frequently, we would actually learn more about ourselves and the collective consciousness! It has worked for monks and other beings in the past, so why couldn’t it work for you, too?







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