Magic and Wonder in the Age of AI | David Kwong | TED

Magician and crossword constructor David Kwong explores the concept of wonder in the age of technology, discussing whether advancements have diminished or enhanced our capacity for awe. Through interactive magic tricks using AI like ChatGPT, Kwong demonstrates how technology can be integrated into performances to create moments of wonder and mystery, emphasizing the importance of curiosity and questioning in experiencing the beauty of the world.

David Kwong, a magician and crossword puzzle constructor, discusses the concept of wonder and its relation to magic and technology. He explains that wonders are experiences or objects that defy explanation and evoke a deep sense of awe and questioning. Kwong raises the question of whether advancements in technology have robbed us of wonder, or if they can actually enhance our capacity for experiencing wonder. He argues that modern technology can increase opportunities for wonder, citing examples like the Hubble Telescope’s images of the Pillars of Creation.

Kwong demonstrates how technology, specifically AI like ChatGPT, can be used to create magical experiences that evoke wonder. He engages the audience by involving a volunteer named François in a series of interactive mind-reading tricks using ChatGPT’s deductions based on information provided by François. Through these demonstrations, Kwong showcases how technology can be integrated into magic performances to enhance wonder and mystery.

The interactive tricks with François involve guessing which hand he hides a coin in based on his associations with colors, animals, and fruits. Kwong also attempts to deduce a country François is thinking of, using historical figures’ initials as clues. Despite his initial prediction being incorrect, ChatGPT successfully deduces that François was thinking of Denmark, impressing the audience with the AI’s deduction abilities.

Kwong emphasizes the importance of questioning and curiosity in experiencing wonder. He suggests that the beauty of wonders like the Pillars of Creation lies not only in their existence but also in our ability to appreciate and question them. Kwong concludes by highlighting the significance of human capacity for wonder and urges the audience to embrace questioning and wonder as essential aspects of life, emphasizing that the meaning is in our asking rather than in finding answers alone.

In his engaging presentation, Kwong combines magic, technology, and philosophical reflections to illustrate how wonder can be cultivated through questioning and exploration. By integrating AI into his magic tricks, he showcases the potential for technology to enhance human experiences of wonder and mystery. Through his interactive demonstrations and thought-provoking insights, Kwong encourages the audience to appreciate the gift of wonder and curiosity as essential components of a meaningful life.