Joakim Lloyd Raboff 1966

CHAT GPT on the Meaning of Life

This is me at three. Innocent, tender. An unwritten page at the very beginning of my life’s story. I know not where it was taken, but it could have been when my mother and I were visiting Sweden for a few months back in 1966. It’s from a series of photographs from a studio. This is the only one I have left.

A year earlier, in 1965, Edward Feigenbaum and Joshua Lederberg created the first “expert system” which was a form of AI programmed to replicate the thinking and decision-making abilities of human experts. Their system didn’t pass the Turing test but neither has any of today’s AI robots. In fact, so far, no AI system has been able to convincingly imitate a human when asked questions like these classic Turing test questions:

  • What is your most memorable childhood event and how has that impacted you today?
  • Describe yourself using only colors and shapes.
  • Describe why time flies like an arrow but fruit flies like a banana.
  • How do you feel when you think about your upbringing and what makes you feel that way?


Almost on the dot fifty-seven years later, this morning, I asked the famous/infamous AI robot ChatGPT this question:

What is the Real Meaning of Life?

Nothing revolutionary about the robot’s answers, but it was nonetheless interesting to see what the options were/are.


Religious or spiritual meaning: Many religious beliefs posit that the purpose of life is tied to a higher power or divine plan. Religions may teach that life’s meaning involves fulfilling certain moral or spiritual obligations, achieving enlightenment, or attaining union with the divine.

Personal fulfillment and happiness: Some philosophical perspectives emphasize the pursuit of personal fulfillment, happiness, and self-actualization as the primary meaning of life. This viewpoint suggests that individuals should strive to identify and pursue their passions, cultivate meaningful relationships, and find joy and purpose in their experiences.

Moral and ethical significance: This perspective holds that the meaning of life lies in the pursuit of moral and ethical values. It suggests that individuals should strive to make a positive impact on the world, promote justice and compassion, and contribute to the well-being of others.

Existentialist perspective: Existentialist thinkers argue that life has no inherent or predetermined meaning. According to this viewpoint, individuals have the freedom and responsibility to create their own meaning in life through their choices, actions, and personal values.

Ultimately, the interpretation of life’s meaning is a deeply personal and individual journey that each person must navigate for themselves.

I would have loved to have seen it add an even simpler answer, like in the Douglas Adams novel A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: 42