Will artificial intelligence be religious? Researchers say robots could someday be converted to a faith

  • This could mean they serve humanity, rather than try to destroy it
  • But the opposite could also be true and religion can increase power
  • Marvin Minksky at MIT says computers could someday develop ethics
  • There are concerns AI could add to religious conflict around the world

Ellie Zolfagharifard For Dailymail.com

Artificial intelligence could be a reality within years, rather than decades, scientists have said. 

Elon Musk recently warned AI has the potential to be as dangerous to mankind as nuclear weapons.

But is there hope for artificial intelligence in the form of religion? And could faith allow AI to do more good than harm?

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Elon Musk recently warned AI has the potential to be as dangerous to mankind as nuclear weapons. But is there hope for artificial intelligence in the form of religion? And could faith allow AI to do more good than harm?

Elon Musk recently warned AI has the potential to be as dangerous to mankind as nuclear weapons. But is there hope for artificial intelligence in the form of religion? And could faith allow AI to do more good than harm?

Dylan Love at the Dailydot.com recently published an in-depth report attempting to answer some of these questions. 

Lincoln Canon, president of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, told Love that there are no ‘laws’ in computer science that would make it impossible for software to hold religious beliefs.

‘Of course there are some naive voices among the anti-religious that would like to imagine a technical incompatibility between machine intelligence and religious beliefs,’ he said. 

John Messerly, affiliate scholar for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, added: ‘I assume you can program a AI to ‘believe’ almost anything.’

Religious superintelligence may be either the best or the worst kind of superintelligence, added Cannon. 

He believe they can be compassionate or oppressive, because he says, religion is ‘just power’, and can be used for good or evil.

‘Religion already isn’t benign, and any religion worthy of a superintelligence certainly would be even less so,’ he said.  

The issues raise the question of whether AI can have a soul. Pictured is Honda's Asimo humanoid robot shaking hands during a presentation in Zaventem near Brussels

The issues raise the question of whether AI can have a soul. Pictured is Honda’s Asimo humanoid robot shaking hands during a presentation in Zaventem near Brussels

Swedish philospher, Nick Bostrom, said that the main fear is that as AI becomes smarter, it will choose a path for its continued existence that would mean the destruction of humanity. 

Duncan Trussell comedian and host of The Duncan Trussell Family Hour podcast, said: ‘My hippy dream is that this advanced intelligence will be a pure manifestation of love and compassion, and thus its tendency would be not to destroy but to heal.’ 

Reverend Dr Christopher Benek, an associate Pastor of Providence at the Presbyterian Church in Florida, agrees that religions may help AI live alongside mankind.

‘I don’t see Christ’s redemption limited to human beings,’ he told Zoltan Istvan, author of The Transhumanist Wager, in a Gizmodo interview earlier this year.

‘It’s redemption to all of creation, even AI,’ he added. ‘If AI is autonomous, then we have should encourage it to participate in Christ’s redemptive purposes in the world.’

Reverend Benek’s statements, however, raise the question of whether AI can have a soul.

AI WILL MAKE A GLOBAL ARMS RACE ‘VIRTUALLY INEVITABLE’

Elon Musk led 1,000 robotics experts in an open letter last month warning that 'autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow'

Elon Musk led 1,000 robotics experts in an open letter last month warning that ‘autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow’

Professor Stephen Hawking and Tesla founder Elon Musk led 1,000 robotics experts in an open letter last month warning that ‘autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow’.

The strongly-worded letter calls for an outright ban on ‘offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control’ in an effort to prevent a global AI arms race.

The experts point out that, unlike nuclear weapons, AI weapons require no costly or hard-to-obtain raw materials.

This means they will become ubiquitous and cheap for all significant military powers to mass-produce.

‘If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable,’the letter states

The authors predict that it will only be a matter of time until smart weapons appear on the black market and in the hands of terrorists, dictators and warlords.

They claim AI technology has reached a point where the deployment of such systems is now feasible within years, rather than decades.

‘Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilising nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group,’ the letter states.

‘We therefore believe that a military AI arms race would not be beneficial for humanity.’

Marvin Minksy, a pioneer on the field of artificial intelligence and an MIT professor doesn’t see why not.

‘What humans have is a more complex and larger brain than any other animal – maybe a whale’s brain is physically large, but it’s not structurally more complex than ours,’ he told the Jerusalem Post.

‘If you left a computer by itself, or a community of them together, they would try to figure out where they came from and what they are.’

If artificially intelligent robots could have souls and be converted to religion, there are concerns that they may add to conflict around the world.

Reverend Dr Christopher Benek (right), an associate Pastor of Providence at the Presbyterian Church in Florida, believes religions may help AI live alongside mankind
Reverend Dr Christopher Benek (right), an associate Pastor of Providence at the Presbyterian Church in Florida, believes religions may help AI live alongside mankind

Reverend Dr Christopher Benek (right), an associate Pastor of Providence at the Presbyterian Church in Florida, believes religions may help AI live alongside mankind

Christian theologian James McGrath, writes in his essay Robots, Rights, and Religion: ‘In all likelihood, if androids were inclined to be extremely liberal, they would quickly discover the selectivity of fundamentalism’s self-proclaimed liberalism and reject it.

‘The possibility that they might then go on to seek to enforce all the Biblical legislation in every details should indeed worry us.’

Writing on his blog, Reverend Benek added: ‘I don’t think we should assume AIs will be worse than us or that they will intentionally mistreat us.

‘If they are actually more intelligent than humans then they should have a better understanding of morals and ethics than us – as well as the understanding to enact them.

‘This would mean that AIs could potentially eradicate major issues like poverty, war, famine and disease –succeeding where we humans have failed.

‘Who is to say that one day AIs might not even lead humans to new levels of holiness?’ 

Source: Will artificial intelligence be religious? Researchers say robots could someday be converted to a faith

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