( A seven minute read)
In a recent post I asked if artificial intelligence is the breaking point for Capitalism.
We have low-grade artificial intelligence systems today; But that’s nothing compared to what we can expect in the future.
Assuming global trends continue might religion someday disappear entirely?
What might happen when superintelligence bumps into religion.
Ancient scriptures from various religions say virtually nothing about science and technology, and what they do say about them is usually wrong. People interpret their religious scriptures, revelations, and beliefs in all sorts of ways.
The fact is that the authors of ancient scriptures in all religious traditions obviously knew nothing of modern science.
We need to start by understanding where we are headed and prepare for the changes.
As we progress down the road toward an autonomous economy, human labor becomes obsolete and the world economic production goes on auto-pilot.
However, that not only fundamentally changes the political paradigm but the religious one as well.
In the current paradigm, Capital/labor are necessary now because we are bound inside of the labor/survival paradigm. If that relationship changes, that paradigm ceases to exist and something new emerges.
So can we expect the need for religion to disappear as a real-life god—our near perfect moral selves—symbiotically commune with us.
When you think about it, trying to wrap your brain around how digital technology and all its wonders are even possible is simply bizarre.
Only a tiny fraction of the world’s population understand such things in any depth. And an even smaller amount of people actually know how to design and create the microchips, circuit boards, and software that constitutes this stuff in the real world.
Human beings are a species dependent on a tech-imbued lifestyle that none of us really understand, but accept wholeheartedly as we go on endlessly texting, Facebook’s, and video conferencing.
Capitalism, access to technology and education also seems to correlate with a corrosion of religiosity in some populations. These countries feature strong educational and social security systems, low inequality and are all relatively wealthy. “Basically, people are less scared about what might befall them.
Today’s technology revolutions are happening within years. It may well create a few intellectually challenging jobs, but we won’t be able to retrain the workers who lose today’s jobs. They will experience the same unemployment and despair that their forefathers did.
It is they who we need to worry about.
As climate change wreaks havoc on the world in coming years and natural resources potentially grow scarce, then suffering and hardship could fuel religiosity.
Expect a much more utopian society for whatever social structures end up existing in virtual reality and cyberspace.
But even if the world’s troubles were miraculously solved and we all led peaceful lives in equity, religion would probably still be around.
Human beings naturally want to believe that they are a part of something bigger, that life isn’t completely futile. Our minds crave purpose and explanation.
The tension between technology and the human soul dates all the way back to the Old Testament. Religion is not only a belief system it’s a power, to be used for good or evil, as it clearly has been used for both historically.
Religion already isn’t benign, and any religion worthy of a superintelligence certainly would be even less so.
There are no laws or rules in computer science that would make it impossible for software to hold a religious belief.
Religious superintelligence may be either the best or the worst kind of superintelligence—sublimely compassionate or horribly oppressive.
The question is will our belief in God accompany us into the future.
No gods will save us from Artificial Intelligence, so will there be some level of consciousness that is not associated with biological life.
The technological marvel of uploading minds and consciousness into a cyber environment and then connecting all the minds together may preclude humans from expressing humanity.
It’s just impossible to digest the very real fact that a super-advanced intelligence is growing through us and out of us and its initial sprouts look like technology.
I fear one that is indifferent to us.
This raises the question of what it’s like to be superintelligent, or in other words, how alive you would feel as one.
A superintelligent machine would likely be more conscious than we are, in that it would build a more elaborate model of reality and its consciousness would be composed of more feedback loops than we have in our own brains.
Shouldn’t we be trusting it to tell us what religion is real?
If a computer is 10,000 times smarter than a human, then won’t it already have deduced with certainty which, if any, religion is true?
Humans will attempt to persuade machines to just about all of our vying ideas, and machines will do the same in return. There will be new and unfamiliar forms of interaction enabled by whatever technological interfaces become available, such as brain-to-computer interfacing. Creating a technical incompatibility between machine intelligence and religious beliefs, but humans are already proof of concept.
I do think we can identify some limits to the possibility space of intelligence in general, based on logic and physics, but religiosity remains clearly within the possibility space.
It’s worth pointing out, perhaps, that some of us conceive of religion too narrowly to account for how it’s actually functioned from deep history to the present, and a strong case can be made that transhumanists often (but not always) manifests itself as a religion, even if misrecognized. Religious transhumanists tend to associate with emerging and future technology risks and opportunities.
I do not believe that we will see one single superintelligence, but many that will be interacting—a race of AI beings.
Once the AI becomes cognizant of the depth of its knowledge, operating capacity, speed, and even potential physical manipulation, the AI will choose a path for its continued existence that may preclude the existence of religion or for that matter man.
I fear it could produce one that is indifferent to us, and from that indifference produces actions that break the line of human life that extends back to the first life on Earth.
Religion will probably never go away. Religion, whether it’s maintained through fear or love, is highly successful at perpetuating itself. Even if we lose sight of the Christian, Muslim and Hindu gods and all the rest, superstitions and spiritualism will almost certainly still prevail.
If we can develop the economic structures necessary to distribute the prosperity we are creating, most people will no longer have to work to sustain themselves.
They will be free to pursue other creative endeavors. The problem, however, is that without jobs, they will not have the dignity, social engagement, and sense of fulfillment that comes from work. The life, liberty and pursuit of happiness that the constitution entitles us to won’t be through labor, it will have to be through other means.
There are two kinds of truths; the relative truth that appeals to certain masses but not to all, and the absolute truth which can also be regarded as the universal truth.
For most people, religiousness falls under the first category while spirituality is considered as the absolute truth.
You may practice everything like your forefathers did, but it will not be a source of peace and satisfaction till you are aware about your own realities as an inhabitant of life!
We need work to mitigate the risks while pursuing the opportunities.