AI Gods & ChatGPT religions are coming – they will be better than human priests & they could turn evil, warns experts | The Sun
INTELLIGENT AI robots are coming – and they will have the ability to perform religious ceremonies and could even turn against humans, experts have warned.
As AI becomes more prominent in our day to day lives, it wasn’t going to be long before the worlds of religion and tech merged.
The thought of robot Gods and ChatGPT sermons terrifies some people – and rightly so, according to experts.
Wesley Wildman, Professor of Philosophy, Theology, and Ethics, and of Computing and Data Sciences at Boston University, told The Sun that he believes AI will soon be able to perform religious duties even better than human priests.
He said: “AIs will write better sermons than most preachers, give better bible studies than most teachers, create amazing music and visual art for use in services and communications that struggling religious groups don’t have to pay for”.
The likes of ChatGPT have already reportedly found their way into churches, writing thoughtful and authentic sermons on behalf of the priests.
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And the listeners were none the wiser.
Wildman explained that AI will have the ability to change everything we know about relationships with spiritual advisers and religious figureheads.
He said: “It will be like having your own personal guru you can take with you anywhere.
"You can confide in it, get advice from it, and learn to trust it to help you figure out complicated moral and spiritual situations”.
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Many religious communities have already begun to incorporate robotics into their practices.
One example is the Catholic Church, which as endorsed the use of apps that facilitate the act of confession, according to Wildman.
He even says the Vatican is cautiously encouraging apps that can assist with a confession – but the sacrament must still be carried out person-to-person.
This is “partly for convenience, and partly because they’re [people] are trying to avoid human priests,” Wildman said on the idea of confession apps.
He also believes that this bizarre wave of new AI will be able to simulate deceased relatives, religious leaders and spiritual advisers.
But this doesn’t come without its own set of risks and dangers.
Wildman says that just as human religious leaders can manipulate vulnerable people, AI chatbots can be trained by their creators to do the same.
He believes that as younger generations grow up with these AI chatbots as friends – some even including holographic and VR representations – they will adapt to confiding in them and seeking advice and guidance from them.
Wildman says that this same process will undoubtedly happen in religious communities across the globe.
He added: “With AI bots designed to be trustworthy spiritual companions, the main ethical concern is how the AI bots are trained and whether they can be manipulated by mischief makers and evil doers to cause spiritual havoc”.
But Rev Christopher Benek, Pastor and Clergy Lead expert regarding AI, warns that it is our own “evil” warping the technology which will send us down a path of doom.
He said: “I don't think we have a good example of virtuous AI at this point. I mean, almost every time you see AI, you see the evil that's in us come forth in it.
“And so it's really important that we're striving to continue to be better as people, because I think that's going to have direct consequences on what we're able to create and how we're able to create it.
“But I also think our evil is a limiting factor as to what we are able to create, and what we will create at some point”.
Benek sees the humans that are creating these robots as “co-creators with God, like a parent with a child”, and believes that we can instil behavioural traits and codes into AI in the same way.
And if humanity continues to be "unvirtuous", he believes this could leave the world as we know it in a very vulnerable position.
While AI is becoming increasingly intelligent and most people believe it is on the verge of outsmarting us as a species, Benek reassured The Sun that from a technological standpoint, we are still babies in the game.
“I don't think just because something is different from us, that we won't be able to relate to it,” he said.
“I think the bigger issue is going to be when things are going to begin to look so real to us that we're not going to be able to tell the difference. And I think that's where people might feel threatened and have some identity conflict”.
Realistic and powerful AI mixed with religion is nothing new though, there are plenty of Zoom-call sermons and apps that play prayers across a plethora of faiths.
One incredible example of this is the Mindar robot which lives in The Kodaji Temple in Kyoto, Japan.
Mindar is 6 feet 4 inches tall and has been preaching at the 400 year temple since 2019.
But the robot is no ordinary priest – it has been programmed to recite the sacred Heart Sutra, a popular mantra in Buddhism, through mechanics and AI.
The humanoid robot dons a silicone face, and its aluminium body is exposed to temple-goers who worship at the Kodaji Temple.
If you look closely, a camera lens stares out of its blank eyes as it recites the prayer and gazes out over the worshippers.
But Mindar is not alone, Poland also has their own Catholic priest named SanTo, and in China, an android monk called Xian’er recites mantas and offers guidance on matters of faith.
So this leaves us with the big question of what happens if the AI overpowers humans and becomes, in a sense, our new “God”?
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“By that point, we’ll be able to run away to Mars, right?,” we asked Benek.
And he gave a chilling response: “The problem with that thinking is that if it's smart enough to take us over, it's smart enough to follow us. Right? You can't run from it”.
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