“Fusing My Religion”
The stories and forms that religion takes are still driving the aspirations we have for AI. What lies behind this strange confluence of narratives? The likeliest explanation is that when we try to describe the ineffable – the singularity, the future itself – even the most secular among us are forced to reach for a familiar metaphysical lexicon. When trying to think about interacting with another intelligence, when summoning that intelligence, and when trying to imagine the future that such an intelligence might foreshadow, we fall back on old cultural habits. The prospect creating an AI invites us to ask about the purpose and meaning of being human: what a human is for in a world where we are not the only workers, not the only thinkers, not the only conscious agents shaping our destiny.
So we use the words our ancestors have used before us. Just as the world was shaped by the word in some traditions, the ‘logos’ of Christian thought, we are shaped by the word, whether we think of ourselves as secular or not. We usher in the AI future on the wings of angels, because the heavy lifting of the imagination isn’t possible without their pinion feathers – whether we think of them as artificial or divine.
Or as REM said it:
The hint of the century
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
Now I’ve said too much
Originally shared by Zoltan Istvan
Very interesting new feature in Aeon on AI that also discusses my short fiction The Jesus Singularity: https://aeon.co/essays/why-is-the-language-of-transhumanists-and-religion-so-similar #transhumanism