So assuming their existed an Oracle, what effects would it have on society. Assume that everyone has access to it similar to using a library where the books can't leave.
Properties of the Oracle
- It can only answer axiomatic (self evident, time independent) questions.
- It has no concept of 'current time'. Its answers should be always true, regardless of time passed. (Questions about Earth will assume 'average' and 'in this era')
- The answer will be a short phrase, number, range, or equation in whatever units the user is most comfortable with.
- The Oracle is smart enough to answer the question you mean, not what you asked. (so no language/meaning problems) And always responds with an unambiguous answer that the user can understand. (Like WolframAlpha, but it knows everything, and better auto-correct, and faster)
- It can only give answers, not explanations. (the user may understand what the answer is, but not why it is the answer. You can't bypass this by asking 'whats the first/second/ect. reason that was the answer?')
- No technology can interact with Oracle in any meaningful way.
- It will only answer questions for curiosity/academics. It is self aware enough to know if someone is trying to directly/indirectly exploit it. (Because reasons not important to this question)
- The oracle can't be controlled/restricted (it appears to whoever needs it. when they need it).
- If the oracle can't/won't answer a question, it will tell the user it can't answer. The oracle can give guiding questions to the user though if the problem is that the user doesn't really know what they are asking. (like "what do you consider 'stable'?".)
- The Oracle can be destroyed, but as far as mortals understand, it is indestructible. (I am adding an exception that the Oracle can't say how it can be destroyed. This knowledge has to be obtained from a god, and none of the gods will let the oracle be destroyed (because the Oracle is part of a set of artifacts, and bad things will happen if the whole set is destroyed, but that is irrelevant to this question.))
- How to find water (go to the sea), not where it is.
- 'How long will it take an apple to reach the ground', assuming you mean on Earth, and from an average apple tree, with the answer being an average time and/or time range.
- "Are there any stable elements in the periodic table after 200?" (Answer will be based on user's definition of 'stable'. If they don't know, the Oracle will till them to figure that out first.)
- "What equation describes the relationship between gravity and quantum mechanics?" (Will answer 'there is none' if it doesn't exist.)
- How do I make a better engine? (better is subjective, and answer changes with available technology)
- How many troops does the enemy have? (This is a time dependent question)
- What is the fastest way to get rich? (This is a time dependent question)
- "What is missing from the Standard Model to be a complete description of physics?" (Can't be briefly answered. It will say if it's possible though.)
- Solution for a Hash output. (Infinite answers. If you ask for 'just one', it will refuse, as 'which one is the answer' is subjective, even if all answers are equally valid)
For religion, there are questions it will and won't answer. Info that is always true (is there a god? yes) will be answered. Info that is not always true won't be. (is there one god? gods can be created and destroyed in this universe so, no answer. (but a few select gods are eternal))
The main questions I'm interested in are
- Will this stunt or accelerate technological progress? (Will people learn 'why?' faster if they know the answer, or will they not try to find out why if they can just know the answer?)
- Would this have any noticeable effects on society? (would this encourage/discourage any common philosophies or how people act?)
- I'm interested in both if this just appeared today or has always existed.
I know this is a bit broad, but I'm looking for the psychological effects access to this Oracle would have on people. I'm not interested in exploits beyond its intended purpose (to be a infinite knowledge database). Please try to avoid answering with opinions!
EDIT: I think I've locked out all potential exploits, but basically it can't be used by machines, or used to gather information that the user couldn't implicitly know as a fact.