Artificial Intelligence and Religion

AI Shaping Religion, AI vs. God and Worship of AI

If other areas use the field of AI for their purposes why not for religion?

I did a rapid search on this topic and in a short time I found three interesting thoughts.

  1. AI shaping religion. It would be possible to go more in-depth and look at how AI is shaping religion in a more general sense, and there is a story on this in CNBC published May 2018. This talks of how AI is shaping religion through technological applications, ending up with a speculation on artificial general intelligence (AGI) and whether conscious machines can choose their own religion.
  2. AI vs. God. A member of the AI & Big Data group in Forbes wrote an article called AI vs. God: Who Stays And Who Leaves? Talking mainly of the transfer from monotheism to transhumanism. It is of course a pure speculation on whether AGI will bring an end to religion.
  3. Worship of AI. You could ask if there is a growing worship of AI. This has been done by Remington Tonar in his piece on Medium The Church of Artificial Intelligence: A Religion in Need of a Responsible Theology written in August 2018.

All these three somehow seem to connect loosely to the last keyword, so let us present two different definitions of transhumanism.

Transhumanism is a way of thinking about the future that is based on the premise that the human species in its current form does not represent the end of our development but rather a comparatively early phase.
-Whatistranshumanism.com

Transhumanism (abbreviated as H+ or h+) is an international philosophical movement that advocates for the transformation of the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies to greatly enhance human intellect and physiology.
-Transhumanism on Wikipedia

I found a series of links to the topic of religion and AI. However I thought it would be fascinating to see if there has been research going in this direction. This brought me to research on understanding religious violence through the use of AI, an Oxford University collaboration.

The findings revealed that the most common conditions that enable long periods of mutually escalating xenophobic tension occur when social hazards, such as outgroup members who deny the group’s core beliefs or sacred values, overwhelm people to the point that they can no longer deal with them. It is only when people’s core belief systems are challenged, or they feel that their commitment to their own beliefs is questioned, that anxiety and agitations occur. However, this anxiety only led to violence in 20% of the scenarios created — all of which were triggered by people from either outside of the group, or within, going against the group’s core beliefs and identity.
- AI systems shed light on root cause of religious conflict: Humanity is not naturally violent (Science Daily)

Disagreements cause violence? AI is very much based at attempting to understand human psychology or in some ways surpass human capacity for specific tasks (Narrow AI). The article argues that psychology is the foundation as well for religion and culture, so the root cause rests in how our minds process information that our world presents it. Another direction within AI and religion thus seems to use the field of AI to understand religion.

Another question would be to study technologists working for religious communities or Faith-based startups. Perhaps next time.

I hope you enjoyed this short article.

This is day 13 of my project #500daysofAI.

What is #500daysofAI?

I am challenging myself to write and think about the topic of artificial intelligence for the next 500 days with the #500daysofAI.

This is inspired by the film 500 Days of Summer where the main character tries to figure out where a love affair went sour, and in doing so, rediscovers his true passions in life.

AI Policy and Ethics at www.nora.ai. Student at University of Copenhagen MSc in Social Data Science. All views are my own. twitter.com/AlexMoltzau

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