Acquiring God-like Knowledge is Not an Arrogant Proposition

Avi Loeb
5 min readJun 16, 2024


A view of heaven from the site of the 2024 TED Conference in Vancouver, Canada. (Image credit: Avi Loeb)

Societal forces encourage us to follow the herd. Most people accept limitations on their freedom in exchange for a peace of mind, since going against the herd could be painful. They follow the imitation game of what is acceptable by others and navigate through life as if it was a trip with unbreakable ground rules and a prescribed schedule. This constitutes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The only prison that functions perfectly is the one which is believed to be unbreakable by all prisoners.

Accepting widely-believed constraints is the foundation of societal order and a guarantee for political stability. By the same rationale, blinders are often placed on either side of a horse’s head next to its eyes in order to keep its focus on the beaten path. However, we are given only one ride through a short life and the most exciting destinations might be along the roads that were not taken by anyone else before us. Cosmic history is measured in billions of years, and our biggest blinders are dictated by our short lifetime, limiting our field of view.

In my latest interview for Netflix, the film director Jason Kohn asked: “What is your goal in life?” I replied: “To acquire a God-like knowledge of the world. Since there is so much unknown, I wish to be immortal.” Jason wondered: “Isn’t that arrogant? Personally, I have no aspirations to live forever.”

I explained: “There were many species before us that accepted their mortality. They are not around us anymore because of natural selection.” The same must have been true for all lifeforms on Mars that did not board a spacecraft or an escaping rock before Mars lost its atmosphere, and its oceans, rivers and lakes dried up, two billion years ago.

According to Charles Darwin, the fittest survive and the less fit are eliminated. Longevity rewards the deviating individuals with greater survival skills who can compete better for limited resources, adapt to changing circumstances, migrate to a better environment or create a supportive environment like industrialized cities instead of natural jungles. These tasks are accomplished based on knowledge. And knowledge is acquired by intelligence. This interplay brings a compounding effect: the most intelligent has better prospects to become the fittest thanks to its enhanced knowledge and the fittest survives longest to become even more intelligent over time and survive longer. The endpoint of this evolution towards perfection is acquiring God-like knowledge about the Universe. This is my ultimate goal.

Aspiring to acquire God-like knowledge is not an arrogant proposition. In fact, arrogance is maintained by those who rule their immediate environment and resist knowledge of grander scales which go beyond their control. The goal to learn as much as possible about the world leads to modesty. The more we learn, the humbler we get by recognizing that there is much more beyond us.

Humans emerged on Earth in the last few million years but with artificial intelligence (AI), our information processing capability is growing exponentially on a timescale of a couple of years based on Moore’s Law. This exponential growth could improve medicine to the longevity escape velocity, where our lifespan will gain more than a year for every passing year. Becoming immortal would allow curious individuals, like myself, to grow their knowledge beyond past limits.

What does God-like knowledge mean? It means understanding how to create superhuman intelligence and ultimately how to create artificially a baby universe with life in it. Intelligence promotes long-term survival that would not be possible along conventional paths. Accepting mortality or the limited knowledge of past generations is equivalent to giving up the premise of becoming the fittest. In contrast, the ambition to survive billions of years requires knowledge that will free us from the traditional chains which imprisoned past generations of terrestrials.

The inspiration for an intelligent state of mind may come from encountering a more advanced extraterrestrial civilization. Once achieved, it can enable unlimited survival and replication opportunities. As Winston Churchill realized: “History is written by the victors.

The fittest extraterrestrial civilizations may have reached this goal. Can we search for them without knowing what they look like? Our imagination is limited to our experiences on Earth. As scientists, we just need to search for something new originating from outside the Solar system.

Yes, I am fully aware that immortality may not be achieved in my lifetime. But today I was offered a safety net by a startup founder who is developing an AI system that will be trained on my public appearances. The training material includes podcasts, interviews, essays or public lectures, such as my latest YouTube post about “Anatomy of Paradigm Shifts.” This AI system offers solace as it realizes my immortality in a non-medical form. I asked the founder to send my AI system to public podcasts. This will save time and allow me to focus on the quest for new knowledge. After all, any such knowledge would constitute the foundation for better podcast interviews by my AI avatar.


(Image credit: Chris Michel, October 2023)

Avi Loeb is the head of the Galileo Project, founding director of Harvard University’s — Black Hole Initiative, director of the Institute for Theory and Computation at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and the former chair of the astronomy department at Harvard University (2011–2020). He is a former member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and a former chair of the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies. He is the bestselling author of “Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth” and a co-author of the textbook “Life in the Cosmos”, both published in 2021. His new book, titled “Interstellar”, was published in August 2023.



Avi Loeb

Avi Loeb is the Baird Professor of Science and Institute director at Harvard University and the bestselling author of “Extraterrestrial” and "Interstellar".