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landmark
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God and robots: Will AI transform religion?

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/technology-58989691

Sometimes I am secretly grateful I won't be around in fifty years...
R.S.
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This was interesting... thanks landmark!

I think there are very few arenas that AI won't infiltrate. This almost seems a natural outcome of technology inhabiting every aspect of our lives. Whether it's good or bad in this instance (or in any instance) is an open question. Some will embrace the future Godbots and some will shun them.

All in all, this sort of thing doesn't concern me as much as the Deepfake technology. But that's a different discussion.

Ron
PS - I'm hoping you're still with us in 50 years. Smile
"It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry." Thomas Paine
landmark
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Quote:
Whether it's good or bad in this instance (or in any instance) is an open question.


It's bad. It's very bad.

It's part of the dehumanization of humanity.

The one small chance homo sapiens has of lasting a bit longer is to hold on to the human part.

Quote:
PS - I'm hoping you're still with us in 50 years.


Thanks for the thought, but that would make me a Guinness World Record holder.
R.S.
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On Oct 25, 2021, landmark wrote:
Quote:
Whether it's good or bad in this instance (or in any instance) is an open question.


It's bad. It's very bad.

It's part of the dehumanization of humanity.


Do you mean technology in general dehumanizes us? Or only specific applications of it?


Quote:


Quote:
PS - I'm hoping you're still with us in 50 years.


Thanks for the thought, but that would make me a Guinness World Record holder.


Well, I'm still rooting for you. But hey, technology can help you get there. Smile
"It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry." Thomas Paine
arthur stead
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Thanks for sharing that, Landmark. Very interesting.

It reminded me of the excellent Amazon Prime TV series "Humans."
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I would argue that artificial intelligence IS human, even majestically so. Besides, religions could use with some transforming. At least Robot priests can't sexually abuse their charges. Seriously, though, AI robots delivering a programmed sermon or spewing out Barnum-statement dogma in response to questions on demand, as an adjunct to live clergy, is no more troubling to me than recorded sermons, CCTV broadcast of church services, televised services, printed or digital religious trivia games, etc. The tendency always is to mistrust new technology and overreact to it’s potential downsides but we shouldn’t forget that very human beings created these technologies because we are, by evolutionary nature, pathologically curios creatures with a species-unique capacity and drive to dream, explore, ponder, develop, and create. Your ability to watch a BBC video about AI, on demand, from your home, and share your comments about it with thousands of people instantaneously, are themselves majestic human achievements, no more to be feared (although they once were and in some cases still are) than the advancements and applications of so-called AI (really just computers with task-specific and "learning" programming) discussed in the video.
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I haven’t read any of the links but to answer the question posed in the title my experience is yes they have.
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Eightball.com and similar sites have been around for decades. No need for high tech.

Some Eastern religions have prayer wheel spinners to mechanically increase the number of prayers being sent.

So, what's new? We used to speak of GIGO as a problem. Now AI seems to be AIGO - Anything In, Garbage Out.

For those interested, check out what AI meant back in the late 80's, early 90's when the craze started. Compare the expectations and definition with what is consider AI today.

Yup, your smart toaster is AI when the user is as dumb as toast.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

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landmark
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On Oct 27, 2021, E.S. Andrews wrote:
I would argue that artificial intelligence IS human, even majestically so. Besides, religions could use with some transforming. At least Robot priests can't sexually abuse their charges. Seriously, though, AI robots delivering a programmed sermon or spewing out Barnum-statement dogma in response to questions on demand, as an adjunct to live clergy, is no more troubling to me than recorded sermons, CCTV broadcast of church services, televised services, printed or digital religious trivia games, etc. The tendency always is to mistrust new technology and overreact to it’s potential downsides but we shouldn’t forget that very human beings created these technologies because we are, by evolutionary nature, pathologically curios creatures with a species-unique capacity and drive to dream, explore, ponder, develop, and create. Your ability to watch a BBC video about AI, on demand, from your home, and share your comments about it with thousands of people instantaneously, are themselves majestic human achievements, no more to be feared (although they once were and in some cases still are) than the advancements and applications of so-called AI (really just computers with task-specific and "learning" programming) discussed in the video.


"Eat your broccoli, dear."
"I say it's spinach and the he11 with it."

I once wrote an ELIZA computer program when I was younger. That was the generic "therapist" text-based program back in the day. It wasn't human.

Computers are not human.
Televisions are not human.
Holograms are not human.
Blow-up dolls are not human.
They may have their place as human inventions, but they are not human.

That we have to be reminded of that, to me, is sad. It's particularly sad in the field of religion, where I would like to think that one of the main aspirations of religion is for adherents to understand our essence as human beings in the world, our relationship to other human beings, and our relationship to that which we cannot understand.
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On Oct 28, 2021, landmark wrote:

Computers are not human.
Televisions are not human.
Holograms are not human.
Blow-up dolls are not human.
They may have their place as human inventions, but they are not human.
That we have to be reminded of that, to me, is sad.



Personally, I don’t think the situation is quite so ominous. And I don’t think our “humanity” is technology-dependent. Humans were quite barbaric and devoid of “humanity” well before modern technology came along.


Quote:
It's particularly sad in the field of religion, where I would like to think that one of the main aspirations of religion is for adherents to understand our essence as human beings in the world, our relationship to other human beings, and our relationship to that which we cannot understand.


Thousands of different religions in the world with thousands of different interpretations. And obviously they can’t all be right (although they could all be wrong). So I don’t see how adding programmed dogma to the human dogma changes things all that much. Confirmation bias and other factors will lead adherents to their preferred source whether it’s AI based or not. And in the end, the deep philosophical questions will probably always remain. AI will neither solve them nor detract from their importance.
"It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry." Thomas Paine
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"obviously they can’t all be right." I understand that Thomas Merton once taught a class at Harvard based on the premise that all religions are right.
With this announcement of theme about 1/3 of the students walked out. Those who remained say it is the best class they ever took,
and that it had a profound impact on their personal search for spirituality and related questions.

Since I view that all 'dogma' is inherently wrong, I agree that the source of the dogma is unlikely to impact spiritual myopia.

Many preachers today rely on a computer app to borrow or 'create' a sermon as opposed to any divine revelation or insight. Folks at home for Zoom service may be on cellphone too.
Organized religion and "search for spiritual or philosophical truths" may have little in common.
So, so calling our "Hey, Mithrus" to get a prayer as opposed to "Hey, Siri" to find your way home from a grocery store are equally a sign of lack of intelligence. (opinion)
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

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E.S. Andrews
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On Oct 28, 2021, landmark wrote:

Computers are not human.
Televisions are not human.
Holograms are not human.
Blow-up dolls are not human.
They may have their place as human inventions, but they are not human.



When I say that so-called artificial intelligence "IS human, even majestically so," I mean as a creation and reflection of the extraordinary curiosity and capabilities of the primate species called Homo Sapien ("the wise human"), not that an AI enabled "robot" literally is Homo Sapien.
R.S.'s comments on the matter, above, align with my own.
R.S.
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On Oct 28, 2021, funsway wrote:
"obviously they can’t all be right." I understand that Thomas Merton once taught a class at Harvard based on the premise that all religions are right.


I'd love to hear that argument. As a general matter, and to the extent that religions make conflicting claims, they cannot possibly be all right. I'm sure the sophistry ran thick in his argument.


Quote:

With this announcement of theme about 1/3 of the students walked out. Those who remained say it is the best class they ever took,
and that it had a profound impact on their personal search for spirituality and related questions.


"Spirituality" is an ambiguous and inherently subjective notion. People give (sometimes wildly) differing definitions of what spirituality means to them. I don't put much stock in claims of "spirituality."


Quote:

Many preachers today rely on a computer app to borrow or 'create' a sermon as opposed to any divine revelation or insight.


Again, "divine revelation or insight" is a claim of someone's personal feeling. It can't be checked for accuracy. And in many cases, it conflicts with the "divine revelation" received by adherents of other religions. That being said, what's to stop the preacher from adding his "divine revelation" to the computer app?
"It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry." Thomas Paine
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To be fair religions make conflicting claims within their own dogma!
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ELIZA or Elisha?

What are "good" or "life" or even "goals" to a computer program?

Whose tools? What assigns numbers to our feelings, thoughts, actions...?


All is one. Despair is made of nothing.
Life and being are imperfect.
Strive to become one.

Your daily CRC is 50001. The zeros are alarming but they are only in the middle rather than the beginning or ending. Acknowledge the five and get on with your day even if it means dealing with three zeroes. There will be one.

Eli*a seZ Smile

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landmark
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And obviously they can’t all be right (although they could all be wrong).


Rightness or wrongness has nothing to do with it, anymore than I care about literature or art being right or wrong.

I am talking about the (human) attempt to reach other human beings. We look to others for transmission of certain experiences. Or we can just ignore the others and, eyes down, stare at the cards as we do our Four Ace Assemblies.

It is advantageous to some (a minority) of the population, that the rest of us (the majority) converse with recordings.
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All is one. Despair is made of nothing.
Life and being are imperfect.
Strive to become one.


Words similar to that have been written often. It is rare that people change from just reading words. When (1) the time is right, (2) the student is ready, (3) and the teacher comes, and (4) and there is transmission within a human context, then change may occur.
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When the student is ready the teacher will appear.
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R.S.
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On Oct 29, 2021, landmark wrote:
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And obviously they can’t all be right (although they could all be wrong).


Rightness or wrongness has nothing to do with it, anymore than I care about literature or art being right or wrong.

I am talking about the (human) attempt to reach other human beings. We look to others for transmission of certain experiences. Or we can just ignore the others and, eyes down, stare at the cards as we do our Four Ace Assemblies.

It is advantageous to some (a minority) of the population, that the rest of us (the majority) converse with recordings.


Okay. But again, those who feel the need for genuine human interaction will always seek it out while others may not mind an AI sermon. I don't think this is some sort of existential threat to our humanity. And to be clear, I also don't see AI's foray into religion as some great and beneficial innovation. It will just be one more option.
"It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry." Thomas Paine
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On Oct 29, 2021, R.S. wrote:
I also don't see AI's foray into religion as some great and beneficial innovation.


So, AI is an entity now with its own volition? It is a concept that has changed definition over the years, but none suggesting self awareness.

Yes, there are those who pretend that every faster computer is making gains in being "intelligent," but that is just redefining what intelligence is too.

Some human is going to decide on the voice used by this computer drive preacher and load its memory with snippets of scripture and philosophy.
Some human will write algorithms for selecting and piecing these together based possibly on words input by the supplicant. That is not intelligence.

Show me where a computer came up with the idea of being a preacher and I'll pay attention.

"current claims and hopes for progress in models for making computers intelligent are like the belief that someone climbing a tree is making progress toward reaching the moon."
Hubert L. Dreyfus, Stuart E. Dreyfus; Mind Over Machine.

I have no problem with folk listening to recordings from a computer rather than a recorded sermon from a pulpit by a human. I agree with you that it will make little difference.
Just don't pretend that such a computer is intelligent because it does the task of dogma regurgitation faster than a human.

I wrote some computer programs in the 80's that are still being used because they come up with better solutions to some problems better than humans do and mainframes too.
But there is no intelligence involve beyond my looking at an old problem in a new way. A computer today can run my program faster than back then, but will come up with the same answer.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

eBooks at https://www.lybrary.com/ken-muller-m-579928.html questions at ken@eversway.com
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