So should we baptize machines?

The hype about artificial intelligence has some speculating that at some point a computer might have what we might call a soul.  So some theologians are wondering if machines advance to that point, should they be evangelized?  Should they be baptized?

Thomas D. Williams writes about this line of reasoning and why it is unlikely that machines would be able to become Christians.  In addition to “artificial intelligence” meaning something completely different from the human ability to reason, machines would not have inherited original sin so would not be in need of saving (the AI apocalypse crowd may be projecting human-style sinfulness on inanimate objects), and Jesus, according to the Athanasian Creed, came “for us men and for our salvation,” not for animals, much less for machines.  See Williams’s argument after the jump. [Read more...]

The new artificial intelligence paragon

The tech world is getting excited about “Nara,” a new search algorithm built on the analogy of how neurons connect with each other.  It will be an even more sophisticated way of selling us stuff.  But it also is being hailed as an “artificial brain,” a robot taking us even closer to a machine becoming a person.  But is it really?

It strikes me as brain-like and person-like only in the sense of the intellectually and spiritually impoverished reductionism of contemporary thought, which reduces human beings  to “consumers” and culture to commercialism, being unable even to conceive of anything more in life. [Read more...]

Why artificial intelligence won’t conquer humanity

Some smart people, from Bill Gates to Stephen Hawkings, have been raising the alarm that computers might get so intelligent that they could conquer the human race.  But artificial intelligence specialist David W. Buchanan explains why this isn’t something we need to worry about, saying the alarmists are committing the “consciousness fallacy,” confusing intelligence with consciousness. [Read more...]

Putting “ethical governors” on killer robots

Drone warfare makes some people squirm for the ethical issues it raises, but right now drones are still controlled by human beings.  The upcoming technology, though, would make them autonomous, allowing them to make their own “decisions” about whether or not to kill.  To meet the moral objections in giving machines the option to kill human beings, some techies are proposing tacking on separate software they are calling  “ethical governors” that could automatically run the decisions through international law protocols before going lethal.

What do you think about this?  Can there be “artificial morality’” just as there is “artificial intelligence”?  (After the jump, a defense of killer robots that goes into these issues.) [Read more...]

A supercomputer didn’t really pass the Turing Test

The media reported that a supercomputer passed the Turing Test, a measure of artificial intelligence in which a computer can pass as a human being.  But it turns out that this is just one of the many examples tracked on this blog (as some of you commenters have pointed out) of incompetent reporting on science and technology.  Here is a link to the big story.  Then, after the jump, a link to a tech site debunking the claim, along with some specific points that the article got wrong. [Read more...]

Updates

The rest of the story on recent posts. . . .

The computer named Watson ended up wiping the floor with the human used-to-be champions on Jeopardy. The human race is evidently doomed. So if Watson is smarter than people, should we elect him president? What does this mean?

The Patriot Act, which gives the government expanded wiretapping and surveillance powers in fighting terrorism, is being extended, for three to ten months, depending on how the Senate Bill and the House Bill are reconciled. But both houses voted for extension. Earlier, as we discussed, some Tea Party Republicans led by Rand Paul joined with liberal democrats to stop the bill. But that was for a special fast-track approval that required a supermajority vote. The House subsequently passed the bill under the normal majority-vote process.

The Borders bookstore chain has filed for bankruptcy.


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