The Gateway

Tag: Biology

Why? Just why?

by Andy on May.14, 2010, under General

As I’m currently working on designing the interface specification to connect an artificial intelligence to a game engine, I had to think a lot about causality. And damn it, it’s a complex topic! Perhaps the most defining question in our whole life. We all start as children on the backseat of our dad’s car, permanently asking “Why is sky blue?”, “Why is the car driving?” or simply, but not less difficult to answer “Why does it take so long to arrive at the zoo?”. While those questions, or at least most of them, are rather philosophic or scientific, our early days are usually followed by a much less world-shaking period with questions like “Why did she break up with me?” or “Why the hell do I have to learn all that shit for a stupid exam?”. Following that little downtime, we usually start to ask us more general questions again, but they will now depend on our experiences in the past, as our brain will try to answer those nasty “Why”s based on our collected knowledge. Sadly, that also denies many ways of thinking to us. Those we never collected experience for.

Nonetheless, the “Why” accompanies us through our whole life. That’s quite remarkable if you ask me. But what do those “Why” questions really ask for? In the most general case, they ask for a causal relation, trying to identify the trigger of an action we just witnessed or heard of. But why should we want to know? Haha, there it was again. Nope but honestly, we should try to get a feeling for our need to asking the “Why” question, as the “Why of Whys” can teach us much of our way, and the techniques, we tend to use to solve those questions. This knowledge might open our view to new ways of thinking.

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