At the dawn of the 20th century, there were a number of crises in physics. Radiating objects like stars emitted a finite, well-defined amount of energy at every wavelength, defying the best predictions of the day. Newton’s laws of motion broke down and failed when objects approached the speed of light. And where gravitational fields were the strongest, such as closest to our Sun, everything from planetary motion to the bending of starlight differed from the predictions of the universal law of gravitation. Scientists responded by developing quantum mechanics and General Relativity, which revolutionized our Universe. Names like Planck, Einstein, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Dirac and more are often hailed as the greatest scientific geniuses of our times as a result. No doubt, they solved some incredibly complex problems, and did so brilliantly. But artificial intelligence, quite possibly, could have done even better.

There are some things that machines are better at than humans. The number of calculations a machine can perform, along with the speed it can perform them, vastly outstrips what even the most brilliant geniuses among us can do. Computer programs have, for many decades now, been able to solve computationally intensive problems that humans cannot. This isn’t just for brute forceproblems like calculating ever-more digits of π, but for sophisticated ones that were once unimaginable for a machine.

No top human has defeated a top computer program at chess in over a decade. The technology that Apple’s Siri is based on grew out of a DARPA-funded computer project that could have predicted 9/11. Fully-autonomous vehicles are on track to replace human-driven cars within the next generation. In every case, problems that were once thought best-tackled by a human mind are giving way to an AI that can do the job better.