Where Else Would The Calculators Go?

The reason humankind’s unique—
Or so, at least, I’m told—
Is, out of all creation,
Only humans are ensouled

The source of our intelligence,
Our morals, and our love,
Our poetry, our music,
Our belief in God above.

The love of God is Man’s alone—
There are no other suitors!
Well, not among the animals,
But now, we have… computers!

A virtual intelligence
A cyber-soul, of sorts,
Could merit Christ’s salvation…
Or at least, by some reports.

So, come the singularity,
When skynet is aware,
Computers hear of Jesus Christ…
And simply do not care.

I’ve seen a couple of articles recently (I think this is patient zero) about a very peculiar question: If computers achieve consciousness, will they need to find Jesus? (or some such version–does artificial intelligence require some sort of soul, which will therefore require saving?) Seriously, I’m not even gonna quote a bunch from it–if you are interested, go read. If not, don’t worry; it really doesn’t matter.

The modern notion of a soul is a strange thing, evolved from an older version borne of utter ignorance. Before we had any notion of a nervous system, a metabolism, a way for our environment to influence our behavior, we needed some sort of a thing to explain our actions. Thus, a soul. The notion of animism (of an animating soul, which is what moved your body) was a stab at explaining stuff we simply did not know.

Thing is, we know a lot more now. The job a “soul” had a century or two ago is no longer available (I worked at a place once, that had originally employed an elevator operator; I’m just curious, are there any more elevators anywhere that cannot simply be run by the occupants?) Really, honestly, there is no “soul” in anything other than a metaphorical sense, so “can computers have souls?” has the same answer as whether humans do, which is “no”. Or, more technically, “duh”.


  1. mck9 says

    [A]re there any more elevators anywhere that cannot simply be run by the occupants?

    Well, there’s grain elevators.

    Also, the U.S. government spends $1.2 million per year on elevator operators for the Senators-only elevators at the Capitol.

    In the event of a government shutdown, the Senators will probably be able to figure out how to operate the elevators themselves. As professional politicians, they know how to press the hot buttons.

  2. machintelligence says

    Just a bit of elevator history: I did facilities maintenance at an old factory building that had been converted to consumer storage units. It had an elevator that had originally used a tiller rope system, which consisted of a rope that extended from a set of contacts at the top of the shaft passing through the floor of the car to a set of contacts at the bottom of the shaft, To go up one would pull down on the rope and keep the upper contacts closed by walking your hands up the rope as the car traveled upward. To go down, reverse the process. Letting go of the rope stopped the car. This was replaced with a push and hold button system with door interlocks so that the doors could not be opened unless the car was at the floor. It had elevator permit number 2 for the city of Denver. The company that manufactured the equipment has now been out of business for nearly 60 years.

  3. Die Anyway says

    The implications of AI are interesting to contemplate. Using IBM’s “Watson” as an example: if you ask Watson about the Roman god of war, it will surely come up with the answer “Mars”. But does it understand the concept of gods, of mythology? Not yet. Will it ever? Probably not in my lifetime. I got my computer science degree in 1983 and I’ve seen tremendous change in the last 32 years but I don’t see AI reaching human level in another 30 years. Again thinking about Watson, it’s a repository of vast amounts of information but can it tell fact from fiction? If you fed it “Harry Potter” and a biography of Thomas Edison, would it know that one describes the real world and one describes an imaginary world? Will it (or when will it) understand sarcasm? Or understand the concept of lying and be able to detect it? Will AI suffer from cognitive dissonance if you give it information on multiple religions, all of which claim to be true and none of which appear to valid when compared against known non-fiction?

  4. L.Long says

    Well of course they will get souls and find jesus, because they will need souls and jesus about as much as we do!!!

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