News  |    |  August 23, 2017

God in the machine: Artificial intelligence and religion

News article published in ReligionLink.


In July, the entrepreneur Elon Musk created a bit of a dust-up when he said artificial intelligence is a “fundamental risk to human civilization.” Pretty soon, pundits of varying views were weighing in. Some thought Musk was being an alarmist; others agreed with him. Still others said statements like Musk’s come from a misunderstanding and misplaced fear of artificial intelligence.

Opinions about artificial intelligence abound, but one thing is clear: It is making ever further advances into our daily lives. It is in our cars, cellphones, schools, banks, hospitals and homes.

Musk is not alone in his concern. People far beyond the tech sector have asked about the moral, ethical and religious implications of advancing artificial intelligence. What, if anything, might artificial intelligence reveal to us about the act of creation, the nature of consciousness and our role in the universe? Is there anything distinctive about the human mind that cannot be duplicated in artificial intelligence or created by man? This edition of ReligionLink examines what issues arise as artificial intelligence becomes less distinguishable from human intelligence and asks how religious notions of humanity are evolving to address artificial intelligence . . .