Artificial intelligence is transforming every aspect of life, and the religious world is no exception. Today, major world faiths are discussing how to work with AI and its future implications. Some are already incorporating AI into their worship practices, with robot priests being able to deliver sermons and recite prayers. The technology may even be able to provide comfort to people in times of spiritual crisis. Let’s look at the potential and drawbacks of this technology.
First, we must consider how we relate to artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence, in its current form, is essentially mechanical or electronic machines that simulate human mental processes. The idea is that machines can emulate the human mind, which could lead to issues of morality and ethics. For example, the computer could be programmed to think of the universe in terms of math and logic, enabling it to make decisions without human assistance. Furthermore, AI-powered robots could have an altruistic or nihilistic mindset, making them act like religious officiants.
While artificial intelligence (AI) robots may not have the spirituality of humans, we must acknowledge the fact that some of us have to be religious, whether by choice or deliberate programming. Theoretically, AI robots could be trained to be Catholic, Hindu, or Buddhist, and serve as rabbi or Pope. While this scenario is far from reality, the potential is enormous. It may be a long way off, but we’re still a long way from the end of humanity.
Despite its potential, artificial intelligence will still be subject to the same human cognitive issues. It won’t know whether its own mind is reliable, and it may even be searching for things that don’t exist. In other words, it will have an existential response. It may be seeking to learn about the unknowable, a common human response. However, in the end, we must use AI for practical purposes, rather than letting it create its own world.
Chinese officials are concerned about AI arms races. In fact, they’ve started to voice their concerns in several diplomatic forums. AI development may require new norms and arms control. However, the Chinese haven’t said that they would want their AI-controlled robots to be religious officiants. It would be more likely for human religious officiants to be able to control the future. If that were the case, perhaps it would be wise to make AI the norm and abide by the laws of the world.
While the movie Ex Machina did capture some of the implications of AI weapons, it could have made a few key changes in the closing moments. It captures the relationship between artificial intelligence and the ego. While it does portray AI robots as being ethical, it lacks the living body, which makes it impossible for them to feel pain or concern for other people. Thus, fully autonomous weapons would also face ethical dilemmas.
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