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It's not every day that an artificial intelligence, such as ChatGPT, ventures into the territory of eternal philosophical conundrums. However, when a user posed the chicken-or-egg paradox on Reddit, the chatbot’s one-worded response became an instant sensation, with over 7.5K upvotes in 24 hours.
The question, despite being wrapped in the garb of simplicity, seeks to probe the complex cycle of causality: What came first, the chicken or the egg?
Asked to answer in a single word, ChatGPT didn't miss a beat: "Egg." When prompted for an explanation, the AI replied with a succinct, "Evolution." Just like that, an AI had taken a potentially infinite loop of question-and-answer and distilled it to its very essence.
First presented by Plutarch back in the first century, the chicken-or-egg conundrum is a philosophical stand-in for queries about cause and effect, time and existence, and cycles of life. The quandary lies in the fact that while a chicken hatches from an egg, the egg is laid by a chicken. This scenario creates a circular paradox that has left thinkers, philosophers, and laypersons scratching their heads for centuries.
However, science has helped settle the issue. Philosophically speaking, NYU professor Roy Sorensen explains, “Although it is indeterminate as to which particular egg was the first chicken egg, we can know that whichever egg that may be it precedes the first chicken.”
Scientists also tend to agree. Just a few days ago, Michael Benton, a British palaeontologist, and professor at the University of Bristol explained told NPR that, “yeah, well, the quick answer is the egg,” noting that there is more to that story if you want to dig deeper into technicalities—like what could be considered as the egg we’re referring to.
So, ChatGPT's laconic "egg" response stands up to scientific scrutiny. AI’s continuing capacity to inform, simplify, and amuse us appears boundless. Perhaps it's time we start asking more philosophical questions like "Why did the chicken cross the road?"
Humanity might not be ready for that revelation yet.