Where Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) Taking Religion

Many people are discussing the time when so much knowledge and wisdom will be packed into a computer it will be, or seem to be, “all knowing”. This prospect might cause people to believe it had the same magical qualities attributed to gods and they would start to worship the program.

What I found most fascinating in the link was a woman who said this would be tragic because programmers would inevitably create something in their own image. Many of us who are non believers think has happened already. That is, a god is made of the human’s notion of what it should look and be like. A god comes from artificial intelligence.

Reading through the link, one sees several expressions of concern that people will worship something created by man. That is, idolatry. It is almost humorous they cannot see the irony of worrying about a man-created computer that answers questions from the Bible when man created the Bible itself.

Many of us have smart phones with the voice of “Siri”. You ask “Siri” a question and she gives you an answer. There are other gadgets one can buy that sit on a table and answer questions.

It takes little imagination to see that programming a human voice like a “Siri” to answer deep questions about sin, life and death is available to religions and cults of all kinds. Maybe there will be more gods than ever.

The artificial intelligence of tomorrow will be like the Bible of today.

20 Responses

  1. Henry

    Jon:“Many people are discussing the time when so much knowledge and wisdom will be packed into a computer it will be, or seem to be, “all knowing”.
    “All knowing” is an atheist that wants all fetuses without a brain aborted.
    http://redriverfreethinkers.areavoices.com/2013/07/24/stand-your-ground-to-justify-abortion/#comment-251784

    Now, we find out that babies born “without a brain” can recover nicely.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2582567/Our-baby-ill-bought-coffin-Noah-defies-odds-reach-second-birthday-despite-born-just-tiny-healthy-brain.html

    The “all knowing” atheist led us astray.

  2. entech

    I remember sometime in the early seventies I had a version of the Eliza program, written in basic for the Commodore 64. It was surprisingly realistic, especially with some editing of the algorithm providing the answers. I was a ships engineer at the time and quite a few people would like to “play the game”, some more regularly than others. It could be seen that some were actually treating it as more than a game, I would hesitate to suggest that it could provide intelligent answers, but some were quite obviously using it as some kind of self analysis come meditation system. I remember reading that with the original Eliza program, weizenbaum’s secretary was running the program on her office desk computer, when he came in she covered the screen and said this is private ??? Some one that knew it was just a collection of programmed responses and the whole raison d’etre was actually taking it seriously.

    One can easily imagine a program/computer combination of sufficient speed and power to answer all and any Biblical questions, the interpretation based on, say, a Catholic or Lutheran theology. Many none believers think religion is an “artificial reality” anyway. As we all know that computers don’t make mistakes (only the programmers) this could lead to a unified and irrefutable Christianity – one really does wonder what it would be like ???
    Note that Weizenbaum deliberately wrote an interpretative script to avoid the necessity of giving a database of actual knowledge, a good approach when we cannot know if the actual bible contains actual knowledge.

    Joseph Weizenbaum’s ELIZA, running the DOCTOR script, was created to provide a parody of “the responses of a non-directional psychotherapist in an initial psychiatric interview” and to “demonstrate that the communication between man and machine was superficial”. While ELIZA is most well known for acting in the manner of a psychotherapist, this mannerism is due to the data and instructions supplied by the DOCTOR script. ELIZA itself examined the text for keywords, applied values to said keywords, and transformed the input into an output; the script that ELIZA ran determined the keywords, set the values of keywords, and set the rules of transformation for the output. Weizenbaum chose to make the DOCTOR script in the context of psychotherapy to “sidestep the problem of giving the program a data base of real-world knowledge,” as in a Rogerian therapeutic situation, the program had only to reflect back the patient’s statements. The algorithms of DOCTOR allowed for a deceptively intelligent response, that deceived many individuals when first using the program.

    Weizenbaum named his program ELIZA after Eliza Doolittle, a working-class character in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. According to Weizenbaum, ELIZA’s ability to be “incrementally improved” by various users made it similar to Eliza Doolittle,[6] since Eliza Doolittle was taught to speak with an upper-class accent in Shaw’s play.[10] However, unlike in Shaw’s play, ELIZA is incapable of learning new patterns of speech or new words through interaction alone. Edits must be made directly to ELIZA’s active script in order to change the manner by which the program operates.

    1. entech Thanks for that–really interesting. A year or two ago I wrote about the availability of giving Catholic confession on your computer. I’m sure confessions are repetitive. This would make programmed responses easy, “Go and sin no more.”

      Interesting that your story came out of parody. The repetitiveness and predictability of religion make it great for parody.

  3. Rob

    I’m afraid atheists wouldn’t like what the artificial intelligent beings would have to say about the timeline of their evolutionary theory.

    1. entech

      “Religion. Pretty broad field.
      Pretty broad field with lots of paddocks.
      There must be a huge variety of paddocks.

      Could there be one true paddock?
      One true field?
      Could we define our terms?
      #joke 😆

      1. entech 11:47 Pretty broad field with lots of paddocks. There must be a huge variety of paddocks. Could there be one true paddock?
        One true field?

        The broad field remains static in size. It is constantly divided into more paddocks. Like you, I await the arrived of the one true paddock.

      2. Catcher

        @ 11;47; “Could we define our terms?” Yes, please do. “Could be”, “Must be” is rather vague. Cargo cult to Rome to Waco, to Far Eastern, and on. to Stonehenge. “Religion”; It’s your guy’s topic. Carry on.

  4. Jinx II

    “All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.”
    ? Edgar Allan Poe

    1. Jinx II All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.”
      ? Edgar Allan Poe

      You have answered Catcher’s comment well.

      1. Catcher

        @ 6;03; There are so many unanswered questions related to Poe’s life and manner of death,

        To use a ? quote from Poe as a meaningful answer reveals a weak defense.

          1. Catcher

            @ 9;43; Just using info on Wiki. Many unanswered questions. Fair observation. Do you have anything on Lewis you would like to share?, For instance his life, manner of death? (Since you brought him up).

          2. entech

            Just that in him you can find and apologetic for almost anything you believe. Purgatory, prayers for the dead, the mass and communion are the same thing. Trying to please everyone makes one wonder that his wish was simply to be widely quoted. Much of what he wrote was simply against atheism, a dominant influence seems to be that the heresy most hated is the one most recently abandoned.

            His fiction, rather like Lewis Carrol seems to show a fascination for little girls.

            “In other words, The­ol­ogy is prac­ti­cal: espe­cially now. In the old days, when there was less edu­ca­tion and dis­cus­sion, per­haps it was pos­si­ble to get on with a very few sim­ple ideas about God. But it is not so now. Every­one reads, every­one hears things dis­cussed. Con­se­quently, if you do not lis­ten to The­ol­ogy, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones — bad, mud­dled, out-of-date ideas. For a great many of the ideas about God which are trot­ted out as novel­ties to-day are simply the ones which real The­olo­gians tried cen­turies ago and rejected.”

            ? C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
            I may be wrong (again, yet again) but this quote seems to be similar to your own views.

          3. Catcher

            @ 11;21; So now you dropped your primary concern defending Poe, then go after Lewis in the same manner you decry in the first place. Tisk tisk.

            Lewis had Calvinistic and high church leanings. I didn’t know they taught purgatory or prayers for the dead. Are you sure?

            Little girls and boys fascinate me too. To watch them grow, and yet remain the same person into adulthood is compelling. Our Grandchildren were interesting. Even as babies, they presented the same personalities as they grew up. I have seen the same in other families

            re. last paragraph; Isn’t it interesting that there can be agreement on some things, yet disagreement on others.

            I think what is noteworthy of him, is to connect the issues of agreement, and minimize the disagreement, which I believe is the central point of his works. His “Many rooms” comment says as much.

            You forgot to mention he smoked a pipe, and drank alcoholic beverages.
            I understand he married late in life. Didn’t he like older women?

          4. entech

            So now you dropped your primary concern defending Poe, then go after Lewis in the same manner you decry in the first place. Tisk tisk.

            Poe presumably an atheist can be attacked.
            Lewis definitely not and atheist must be defended.
            Just thought I would try and define hypocrisy.

            They are both story writers and their views on religion or politics and so on is of no more value than yours or Matt Noah’s!

          5. Catcher

            @ 9;07; The thought, reality, of the lack of it re. Poe’s religious thought was not a consideration. I said nothing of it.

            Your attempt to define fails, unless you include yourself.

            re. last paragraph; Include yourself.

            Hmm; “Include yourself” seems to be a repeatable theme.

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