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Aspire or Expire: Super-Adaptable Agents and Problematic Innovation

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Abstract: Humans are unique as a species because, with the help of well-defined problematics, humans alone are capable of redefining reality. A problematic can be understood as an exceptionally-challenging intellectual objective (e.g., heavier-than-air flight, building the first atomic bomb, curing disease, landing humans on the moon, developing artificially-intelligent computers, constructing faster-than-light speed spacecraft, etc.) that requires knowledge-seekers to invent new facts and redefine reality in order to achieve the hoped-for objective. Although scientists prefer to think that scientific inquiry is constrained to an exploration of empirical facts, in truth, scientific progress is often instigated more effectively by the pursuit of a compelling problematic — in many cases, even by science fiction fantasies (Shatner, 2002) — rather than by an examination of established empirical facts (McGettigan, 2011). As such, science has proven to be the most effective means ever invented by humans to transform fantasies into reality.

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