Artificial Intelligence theorists spend a good deal of time thinking about how the creation of true artificial intelligence would affect society. Some brilliant minds, like Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates are rather pessimistic about what a future with artificial intelligence could mean for humankind. Others are hoping for the best. Both sides predict an event called The Singularity.
The Singularity is a term artificial intelligence theorists use to describe a point in time where the development of intelligence is no longer biological. In other words, true intelligence can be created and that intelligence can in turn build upon itself. Because this artificial intelligence would not be restricted by the need for biological evolution, like humans are, it could grow exponentially quickly surpassing human intelligence, eventually becoming trillions of times more advanced than human intelligence.
Good AI, bad AI
If The Singularity did come about, and many brilliant minds like Hawking predict that it will (and soon). Human intelligence would be surpassed quickly. For many theorists, it’s only a question of when. But one unanswered question is whether this will be good or bad for humankind. Hollywood movies depicting artificial intelligence often portray a dystopian future where artificial intelligence has altered its own directives and is now bent on eliminating humankind. But according to many theorists, the opposite reality could become true. As intelligence grows exponentially, AI could prove more and more useful to humans resulting in unimaginable advancements in technology. The real question is whether an artificially intelligent being would seek to harm or help humans.
AI and religion
One question about AI that is only just now being talked about is whether AI could become religious. Humans have pondered about their purpose in the universe and how they came to be since their beginning. If human intelligence can be boiled down to electrochemical reactions in the brain, then, theoretically, artificial intelligence, like human intelligence, could begin to think about those same kinds of questions leading them to a religion of sorts.
Marvin L. Minksy of MIT hypothesized that artificial intelligence might even be able to develop a “soul” of sorts. He jokes that perhaps artificial intelligence will one day stumble upon a computer science textbook, read about the development of artificial intelligence, and ultimately reject the idea that they were first created by humans and develop their own belief system about how they came to be. If artificial intelligence were to become religious, we can only hope that they would choose a peaceful belief system that is inclusive towards humans rather than an exclusive and violent one.
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