Computers may some day help us pore through reams of scientific literature, combining ideas to make discoveries. But what if they go further? Already, a computer program has come up with equations to explain physics laws—equations that so far, no human fully comprehends, writes Samuel Arbesman at Slate. In the future, computers could develop "answers to the riddle of the universe that are going to be too complicated for us to understand, answers that machines can spit out but we cannot grasp."
How will people deal with this? Well, we can work on our own, "human-understandable versions" of computers' mathematical proofs. When that's not possible, "our limits shouldn’t worry us too much. The non-understandability of science is coming," Arbesman writes. "We’ve grasped the low-hanging fruit of understandability and explanatory elegance, and what’s left might be possible to be exploited, but not necessarily completely understood." We can still make technological use of these discoveries and applaud ourselves: "We made these machines, so their discoveries are at least partly due to humanity." Click for Arbesman's full piece. (Read more computer stories.)