Artificial intelligence will make religion obsolete within our lifetime

August 10, 2015

The singularity is a hypothesized time in the future, approximately 2045, when the capabilities of non-living electronic machines will supersede human capabilities.

Undismissable contemporary thinkers like Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and Ray Kurzweil warn us that it will change everything. Hawking likens it to receiving a message from aliens announcing their arrival in “a few decades,” saying this is “more or less” what’s happening with artificial intelligence software.

Talk of the singularity ripples with religious undertones: It’s obsessed with the unknown future and assumes the arrival of a superior entity down the road. It has its naysayers and true believers alike, each eager to tell you why, or why not, such an entity will actually show up.

We spoke to seven thinkers and scholars to learn about what might happen when super-intelligence bumps into religion:

1. Are you aware of any laws or understandings of computer science that would make it impossible for software to hold religious beliefs?
2. How alive would a super-intelligence be?
3. How might a religious super-intelligence operate? Would it be benign?
4. Are there any religious suggestions, Biblical or otherwise, that humanity will face something like the singularity?
5. How realistic do you personally think the arrival of some sort of super-intelligence is?