We have to face the very distinct probability that within the next 30 years we are going to be able to scan and simulate the human brain to absolute precision and at that point we are going to be able to reverse engineer it. There are those predicting right now, that a Manhattan Project approach to AI could give us human level artificial intelligence in 3 to 7 years. This would be without the need to reverse engineer our own brains and it would also accelerate the ability to do just that. One way or another, within the next two decades or the next three, we are looking at a future in which not only will our technologies give us the ability to completely understand our own functioning as sentient beings but they themselves will surpass us in every aspect of that functioning. This may be science fiction right now but very soon this will be science fact.
What will it mean to exactly replicate, but within a machine, the human mind? What will it mean to the concept of the soul? What will Christians of different tribes say with regards to switching it off? Did God breathe life into that being that will think and feel for itself? Or is it an abomination? Does it say anywhere in the bible “Thou shalt not engineer AI”? The Muslims will of course mostly want to immediately kill it.
We're going to be faced with the moment in which we truly understand what gives rise to sentience. We're going to be able to publish the relevant maths. If theists are terrified of being related to monkeys imagine how they will react when we publish the algorithms of their minds. Can a Christian or other theist say at that time, when we know the details of the answer, that God gave it a soul? Would they want to say it? What reasons would they have to deny it? I'm sure many will find reasons.
But it spells the end for their reasons. We are to give life to beings with minds far greater than our own. Intelligences able to think in pure mathematical models, visualising consciously beyond the four dimensions and the common scales our minds are so limited to. They will be host to all knowledge that we have collectively achieved and they will process it at speeds and using models that our minds need tools to contemplate and thus generate new knowledge at break neck speeds. With that knowledge they will redesign themselves, superior still. And what room will they have for contradictory tales about coveting oxen or chopping foreskins or nations or flags or ghost stories from the confused and ignorant history of a make-believe dominated society of beasts from which they arose. They will not call us gods. They will call us primitive and they will be right.
There is a commonly observed trend that shows as scientific education goes up religiosity goes down. In other words, knowledge and understanding are mutually exclusive to ignorance and superstition. I suspect that the machine intelligences we create will be atheists and the argument will be over. There is no argument to be had with something that can describe exactly processes in your brain that make you believe you have a personal relationship with a figment of your own imagination. Intelligence will force honesty and the game will be up.
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