The Fountain of Truth: A World of Perfect Knowledge

»Can you imagine a time when everything has been said?« speaks the male voice.

»What do you mean?« the woman asks.

»Well, that suddenly there’s nothing left to talk about.«

»Between the two of us?«

»No, everywhere: Every conversation had. Every announcement made. Every deal negotiated…«

»…every argument settled?«

»Exactly. Worldwide silence, because everyone has resolved everything. And everyone is in agreement. Women, men, children, babies…«

»No more cries for mother’s milk?«

»Not necessary anymore. Artificial intelligence anticipates it.«

»And the debates in parliament…«

»…no one will miss them.«

»But Markus Lanz?« (German Talkshow-Host)

»Long gone—there’s still some time left.«

»And us lovers?«

»Silent harmony.«


»…I like that.«

I look at Jean-Remy (von Matt) and have to pause for a moment before saying anything. It has been two years since I opened his art exhibition with a few words, where he presented his dialogues. Along with his partner Holger Jung, he was the ‘inventor of advertising’ in Germany, and even 25 years ago, when I founded my agency, he was a source of inspiration. Today, we are friends, and »The Last Word«—the title of this dialogue—is once again an inspiration for me. A slip as part of the speaker for the female voice, a piece of men’s underwear on the other side, even the expression beyond the conversation represents the work in von-Matt’sch perfection.

»Do you know how powerful this is?« I tell him. »I’m writing an article about an enlightened world and would like to include your dialogue.«

The silent harmony inspires me to delve deeper into my thoughts on perfect knowledge.

Two weeks have passed, and I am sitting in my cabin in Norway. There is perfect harmony here. Being one with nature, I can once again focus on the topic that has occupied my mind for over three years.

Even before the breakthrough of Large Language Models (LLMs), when singularity and General Artificial Intelligence (AGI) were still abstract visions of the future, I felt the urge to contemplate such a future in my books. Nothing less than the unification of myth and enlightenment—that is what I am going after. On the island of Værøy in the Lofoten, I found inspiration for the dance between the dynamic and the possibly static, enlightened world. Today, it continues in a mountain cabin near Røros in Norway.

A World of Wonders

What are the implications of a world where every question has an answer, where every problem has a solution? When the pursuit of knowledge has reached its peak, and the collective human intellect stands at the pinnacle of enlightenment. The Syncretic Era, a harmonized world, a mythical enlightenment—Perfect Knowledge—a world where every conversation has been held and every puzzle solved.

In the early 16th century, the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León searched the ‘New World’ for the Fountain of Youth, a mythical source said to grant eternal life. 500 years later, many scientists and technology enthusiasts believe we are on the brink of a breakthrough in the field of longevity. The pursuit still aims at the Fountain of Youth, but now, thanks to the rapid rise of LLMs, we drink from another, eerily similar source of life: the foundation of truth. Once eternal youth is achieved, we yearn for eternal truth. It seems to me that we strive to drink from the »Fountain of Truth«, believing that with perfect knowledge we can overcome our mortal limitations.

But what if, in this relentless pursuit of a knowledge society, we inadvertently stumble upon a paradox as old as time itself?

Philosophers have long debated the implications of absolute knowledge. Does knowledge of everything lead to a deterministic view of life, where free will is an illusion? This question also preoccupies many scientists. Free will in a deterministic universe has historically been explained by compatibilism, which asserts that free will and moral responsibility are compatible with determinism. Libertarianism and hard determinism offer alternative views, either emphasizing the existence of free will or highlighting its nonexistence due to determinism.

If every outcome and every possibility are known, and whether we choose the argument that our decisions are mere illusions predetermined by a vast network of information, or lay another philosophical foundation of free will, what then does this mean for the meaning of human life? Is there still room for human freedom and creativity? What remains of us?

The Mensch, The Meaning, and our Motivation

Take a newborn baby. Fascinated by insatiable curiosity and the desire to explore the unknown and uncover the mysteries of the universe. For the newborn, it is not the given knowledge, the categorization, and the skills; it is the thirst for life itself and its quest to unveil the secrets of the universe. For the child, it is not the finiteness of a solved universe that manifests what it means to be human. This toddler seeks the experience of progress, learning, and achievement itself. It is precisely this drive for progress and thirst for knowledge that has brought us from the caves to the stars, fueled revolutions, and inspired countless creations.

Is this the essence of vitality—what does it mean to be something? Does life manifest in the endless pursuits of better problems and better explanations? Is it the journey and the striving for progress that drives humans and gives life meaning, or do we reach a new »stage« of evolution thanks to enlightenment?

If so, what would that mean? And if not, if this progress is something fundamental to us humans, how would this look in a resolved universe, what would happen to this intrinsic motivation?

A general artificial intelligence equipped with the ability to understand and solve every problem represents the pinnacle of our aspirations. As we stand on the brink of creating AGI, we are now faced with a challenge: What are the consequences of »Perfect Knowledge«? Such a technological wonder raises profound questions about the future of human progress—about humanity itself. Can we humans progress beyond mere optimization? If all that is known is clarified, can we even grasp the unknown? Can we find new boundaries in the realm of »Perfect Knowledge«, expanding the limits of what is possible, even if it seems that every possibility has already been explored?

The Foundation of Reality & Perfect Knowledge

What if – if we are not already part of a cosmic simulation today – in a few decades, in a quiet corner of the digital, simulated, or physical universe, a quantum computer hums softly, its circuits pulsating in rhythm with the cosmos?

We did it! We built a machine, a marvel of human ingenuity that embodies the essence of »Perfect Knowledge«. Even today, the LLM is not just a repository of facts, but a dynamic entity that is updated with every conceivable piece of information. In this scenario, every book is written, and every possible question is carefully cataloged and answered.

What would the reflection of »Perfect Knowledge« imply? It could promise a world free from uncertainty, where every decision is suggested to be shaped by complete understanding.

But what would be the practical implications? What are the consequences for humanity if we incorporate this into our perception of reality? What does it mean to live in a world where there is nothing left to discover?

Are we on the verge of replacing the thrill of progress with something new?

Scientists and researchers shift their focus from the discovery of new knowledge to the development of innovative applications of existing information. Artists and creatives find their inspiration not in the unknown but in reshaping the known. Education becomes an exercise in ‘mastery’ rather than discovery. Students will learn to navigate the vast landscape of information and develop skills in critical thinking and creative problem-solving. The role of educators will be to support learners in applying knowledge in novel and impactful ways. So it might come to pass, at least in the short term. And if we look closer, isn’t that what’s happening right now? What if even that could be taken over by a machine, ultimately under the reign of »omniscience«?

Take education, for example. I grew up in a knowledge society. But even today, we see that it is not knowledge but understanding that is the foundation of our journey. Learning how to learn becomes more important than merely postulating truths. But what if learning new things and even the act of learning itself are replaced by mastering the application of known truths? Is there still room for creativity and problem-solving within the bounds of established knowledge, or would that also be a given in a fully explained universe?

The integration of AI into everyday life brings numerous ethical, political, and philosophical questions. For example: How do we ensure that the benefits of AI are distributed fairly? How do we redefine concepts like achievement and success in a world where AI can take over much of the heavy lifting? If technology and access to tools are in the hands of a few, immense power and control could arise. Absolute enlightenment would then be omniscience if everyone could access it, but a decentralized and democratized distribution of knowledge could pose challenges in taming that knowledge to ensure it benefits all of humanity and not just a select few. The use of AI to eliminate struggles raises ethical questions about dependency, autonomy, and the potential loss of certain human skills and experiences. Society would need to carefully discuss these questions.

As AI rapidly takes over tasks, humans will face a shift in what constitutes a meaningful and fulfilling life. The elimination of struggle can lead to new forms of existential exploration and the search for meaning.

But what would that look like?

People might seek fulfillment in areas where the human ‘touch’ is particularly valuable, such as in deep interpersonal relationships and personal growth. Through a new engagement, the quest for human meaning could shift to other areas. Perhaps the next stage of development would be a new definition of success?

Success might no longer be defined by overcoming struggles but by the quality of one’s contributions to society, personal growth, and the ability to live a fulfilling life without having to overcome traditional challenges.

Ethical and Philosophical Considerations

Perhaps we already live in a world where our actions are not truly our own, but if this is determined technologically in the future by the relentless logic of »Perfect Knowledge«, what does that mean?

An enlightened world could also question the act of rebellion against the absurd and provide a deep sense of security and stability that would remove the struggle. Imagine never being worried about the unknown, never making wrong decisions, or being surprised. This could lead to a harmonious society where conflicts born of misunderstandings and ignorance are minimized. However, this certainty might come at a price. The unknown has always been a source of wonder and inspiration. The void—that which does not exist, that we do not understand or cannot describe—drives us to ask, to dream, to push the boundaries of what is possible. If then the struggle is also eliminated and the actual experience becomes obsolete.

In a world without mysteries, where every question has a ready answer, do we risk losing our sense of wonder? If we remove the theoretical foundation of progress, does life become a series of predetermined sequences, without spontaneity and surprise?

Here, we can present a physicalist argument and advocate for a deterministic worldview that knows no free will. We can argue for a simulated universe and the implausible foundation of quantum physics, which we observe through our perception of a physical universe. We can detach ourselves from these considerations and uphold our belief in a defined world, or we can argue that there is something beyond that which cannot be explained by our species. This argument follows the work of David Deutsch and others, that infinite progress is possible. But regardless of any scientific and philosophical dances, it seems that our perceived societal structures are on the brink of a seismic shift.

While a deterministic universe might constrain free will, perfect knowledge allows us to make more informed decisions within the given parameters. This new form of decision-making freedom could expand the traditional concept of free will rather than completely negate it.

Historically, there have been many reflections on being and meaning. Hedonism teaches that pleasure or happiness is the highest good and the primary goal of human life. Classical hedonists like Epicurus argue that the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain lead to a fulfilled life.

The ancient Greek philosophy of Cyrenaicism—a form of hedonism—holds immediate pleasures, especially physical pleasures, as the most important aspects of a good life. Cyrenaics advocate the pursuit of enjoyment and the avoidance of pain as the primary goals of life.

While utilitarianism is primarily an ethical theory, it posits that the best action is the one that maximizes overall happiness or pleasure. Philosophers like Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill emphasized the role of pleasure and the reduction of suffering as essential components of a meaningful life.

In Aristotelian ethics, eudaimonia is often translated as ‘flourishing’ or ‘well-being’. It involves living in accordance with reason and virtue, which for some interpretations includes the pursuit of intellectually and emotionally stimulating activities.

Some existentialist thinkers, like Jean-Paul Sartre, suggest that individuals create their own life’s meaning through their choices and actions. For some, this means seeking experiences that bring stimulation and fulfillment.

I have long been inspired by mythology, particularly the story of Sisyphus, who is condemned to eternally roll a boulder up a hill, only to see it roll back down each time he reaches the summit. Today, however, we have technologically overcome the exertion and easily push the boulder upward while consuming the digital experiences we have created ourselves. And this is just the beginning.

If every answer is already known, every problem solved, do we then become like Sisyphus, rolling a boulder that leads nowhere? Or is it even worse?

For Albert Camus writes at the end of his existential work that one must imagine Sisyphus as a happy man. Sisyphus finds his pleasure in the activity and discovers life in the rock and in the striving. Camus views Sisyphus as a happy man because he embodies the human condition of eternal struggle without a final solution. Camus uses the myth of Sisyphus as an allegory for the absurdity of human existence: the constant search for meaning in a meaningless world.

According to Camus, life is inherently without meaning, and the universe is indifferent to human concerns. This realization can lead to a sense of despair, a state Camus calls the »absurd«. Yet, instead of succumbing to nihilism or despair, Camus advocates for an attitude of defiant acceptance.

Sisyphus symbolizes this struggle. Camus argues that Sisyphus’s happiness comes from his awareness and acceptance of his fate. By fully acknowledging the meaninglessness of his task and the limitations of his situation, Sisyphus overcomes despair and finds a form of freedom. By recognizing the absurdity of his condition and continuing to roll the rock despite its futility, Sisyphus exercises his will and affirms his existence. This act of rebellion against the absurd is what makes him happy, according to Camus.

Camus writes: »The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.« In this way, Sisyphus becomes a hero who embodies the human ability to find meaning and fulfillment in the relentless striving itself, despite the lack of an ultimate goal.

But considering technological development, we see that the image of the struggle is now being replaced by solutions. We lightly kick the boulder upwards while being digitally connected and subjected to a highly unconscious reactionism.

For Camus, meaning and fulfillment come from the act of struggling itself, from the rebellion against meaninglessness. Perfect knowledge could eliminate many of our current struggles but create new challenges and sources of fulfillment. Human creativity and the drive for self-actualization could shift to new, previously undiscovered areas.

But even in a world of perfect knowledge and AI, humans could find new boundaries against which to rebel. The rebellion could shift from physical or intellectual struggles to other forms of existential resistance, such as creating new values, exploring the depths of human consciousness, or engaging in ethical and moral challenges that AI cannot solve.

Wouldn’t that also be part of a possible technologically enlightened world?

An essential aspect of the human experience is overcoming challenges and adversities. If AI eliminates all struggles, humans might face a new kind of existential crisis—boredom or a lack of purpose. The elimination of struggle does not necessarily lead to happiness; it could lead to another form of existential question about what it means to lead a fulfilling life.

Are we then struck by existential boredom? Is there a need for a new way to find meaning? Or are we trapped in our freedom, with no possibility for uprising and rebellion? Or does continuous rebellion remain, even in a world without traditional struggles, pushing humans to rebel against new forms of constraints or seeking new challenges? Technological pioneers talk about exploring new frontiers in science, space, consciousness, or other areas… But what does it mean to remove the struggle? If perfect knowledge and AI make Sisyphus’s life effortless, would the existential challenge that Camus addresses change?

The absurd arises from the tension between our desire for meaning and the silent, indifferent universe. Without struggle, this tension might be alleviated, leading to a different existential landscape

Do We Need a New Beautiful Absurdity? – From the ‘Fountain of Youth’ to the ‘Fountain of Truth’

Does the concept of the absurd shift in a world without struggle? If absurdity does not lie in the struggle against a pointless task but in the realization that without struggle, traditional forms of meaning and achievement lose their significance, what implications would this have for us? This leads me to new philosophical inquiries about the nature of fulfillment and existence in a world after the struggle.

The quest for »Perfect Knowledge« mirrors the ancient quest for the Fountain of Youth. While science and technology, alongside our efforts to manipulate biology, come closer to the quest for longevity, both represent humanity’s longing to transcend our limits—one through immortality, the other through omniscience.

In mythology, those who drank from the Fountain of Youth often found themselves cursed with endless life, lacking the fullness that made life worthwhile.

The Fountain of Truth promises eternal knowledge but brings its own challenges. »Perfect Knowledge« can take away the unpredictability and spontaneity that give our lives meaning, for the quest for knowledge has always been more than just the answers; it’s about the journey, the discoveries made along the way, and the questions that arise in the process.

The unification of myth and enlightenment could lead us to a new deterministic view of life, where free will is ultimately portrayed as an illusion and human creativity is limited to the application of known truths. Free is free, and the will wills something. If both were obsolete, what would be the consequences?

The journey to »Perfect Knowledge« is fraught with philosophical, ethical, and psychological challenges. It requires us to rethink our understanding of meaning, motivation, and progress. It questions the essence of what it means to be human.

As we take a sip from the Fountain of Truth, we must consider the costs of such knowledge. Will it improve our lives, providing us with clarity and purpose, or will it take away the mystery and wonder that make life truly meaningful?

Ultimately, the answer may not lie in the knowledge itself but in how we use it to navigate the known and find meaning in a world where every answer has already been written.

And for me, this is the existential threat of the 21st century. Not merely the survival of life, but the escape from the state of what I call the »Undead«. This ‘undeadness’ builds on my article from last week about a simulated universe, and I want to conclude today with some thoughts on how we can avoid becoming philosophical zombies and instead understand the boundaries of progress, the pitfalls, and thus comprehend what we want to create.

Vita-Existentialism – In the Mirror of the Simulated and Stimulated Universe

The idea that perceived reality might be a grand simulation is addressed from both scientific and philosophical perspectives in the joint publication by Florian Neukart and me in ‘The God Experiment’. However, it is equally important to reflect this notion through the lens of a naturalistic reality, in which we have a certain freedom to shape our own destiny. Where the simulation—proactively for many—challenges our assumptions about existence and consciousness, the stimulated universe, in its tangible immediacy and profound implications, offers a more immediate canvas for our aspirations and fears.

In a possible perfect ‘final form’, it challenges human existence. The elimination of struggle, as depicted in Camus’ myth, would change the human condition and sources of meaning in a technologically enlightened world. While they may alleviate certain types of existential tension, they lead to new forms of existential questions and challenges in this confrontation. The essence of being human will shift to new ways of seeking purpose and fulfillment beyond the traditional struggles against absurdity.

This new existentialism I call ‘Vita-Existentialism’, where the greatest challenge is not overcoming existential anxiety but rather engaging with life itself – liveliness.

It is a universe that does not consist of passive existence within a predetermined simulation, but of active participation in shaping a reality infinitely expanded by our own desires and dreams.

The question is, how do we, as humans, consciously explore and manipulate our surroundings? What are the true implications of our technological advancements for our understanding of existence and the universe?

This brings me to a nearly hundred-year-old dystopian novel. While today’s vision of technological progress is often associated with an Orwellian view of 1984 or a Terminator- or paperclip-maximization of technology, there is a much older reflection that can be interpreted in light of the exponential technological advancements of the 21st century.

Have you ever read ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley?

As early as 1932, Huxley addressed the core problem of continuous stimulation and its potential drawbacks. The technological tsunami of the coming years, where the fabric of reality is increasingly woven with threads of technological extension and sensory enhancement, forces us to consider the wisdom of those who have traveled similar paths in the realm of imagination through deep intellectual efforts. Aldous Huxley, in his groundbreaking work ‘Brave New World’, envisioned a society captivated by the allure of constant stimulation, a world where true freedom and humanity were sacrificed on the altar of eternal pleasure.

From Huxley’s cautionary tale, we must ask ourselves: At what cost does this relentless pursuit of stimulation come?

Our journey through the stimulated universe has revealed a landscape full of immense possibilities and profound challenges. We have glimpsed futures where human capabilities are enhanced, our understanding of the cosmos deepened, and the boundaries of human experience pushed to their utmost limits. Yet Huxley’s shadow looms large, reminding us that the ecstasy of endless stimulation can also be a labyrinth without an exit, a place where the essence of what it means to be human is diluted in a sea of eternal distraction.

As we move forward, the questions we face are as complex as they are critical.

How can we harness the benefits of this stimulated universe without losing sight of the values that anchor us? Can we foster a society that embraces enhancement while also promoting genuine connection, creativity, and reflection?

And perhaps most importantly, how do we ensure that in our quest for a more stimulated existence, we do not inadvertently create a new world where the richness of the human experience is flattened, where the tumultuous beauty of life is replaced by a monotony of manufactured contentment?

The stimulated universe, with all its wonders and warnings, invites us to engage in a continuous dialogue about our collective future. It challenges us to envision a world where technology not only serves to stimulate but also enriches our lives in meaningful ways, where the measure of progress is not merely the sophistication of our tools but the depth and quality of our human experience.

In the spirit of Huxley’s profound insights, let us proceed with both enthusiasm for the possibilities and mindful awareness of the pitfalls. The future is not a destination to be reached but a horizon to be navigated – a journey that requires us at every turn to not only ask how we can improve our world but why we do so and to what end.

Whether we view it as AGI or a potential technological singularity with a world of ‘Perfect Knowledge’—with its promise of enlightenment and certainty—we are faced with a deep paradox. If Sisyphus were to lose the perception of striving, or, as I often depict it metaphorically: If Narcissus, the mythical youth who fell in love with his own reflection, stares into the well, the reflection is there, but no one perceives it.

So, we see today the danger in Sisyphus, that we technologically overcome the struggle of rolling the boulder uphill, and while we reach omniscience, we are in the process of replacing or completely obliterating the experience and perception. I will write further about this philosophical zombie state in the near future, but for today, I end this text with a fundamental thought for me at the moment:

Infinite progress must be possible. If there is no unknown, no void to explore, rigidity ensues. A homeostasis in which the static state is a dead state. This is the »Homo Obsoletus«, who is of no use to himself and does not even perceive it. This is the state of ‘undeadness’ that we may face with a new Vita-Existentialism. The paradoxical challenge in this construct foregrounds a fundamental aspect of being human: perceived liveliness.

I love being human. I love liveliness. I love it because I cannot explain it, and as long as I cannot explain it, and also perceive that I cannot explain it, it looks to me like a beautiful journey into the nowhere.


The new beautiful absurdity from the »Viking Code«:

»This world shows brutal indifference. If it has a soul, it is cold. If it has perception, it is absent. It is ugly, brutal, and absurd. But if you dive headfirst into the abyss, the light of liveliness reveals itself, and a new, beautiful absurdity can blossom. I call this the beyond madness.«


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