In Douglas Adams’ cult classic, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a supernatural computer called Deep Thought revealed that the ultimate meaning of life boiled down to… the number 42 .
ow, with the development of sophisticated technology, an artificial intelligence (AI) system being lauded as an all-knowing deity may not be so far away, according to one academic.
Professor Neil McArthur, at the University of Manitoba, in Canada, predicts that humanity is about to witness the birth of a new kind of religion, as online sects are emerging that appear to specifically worship AI.
He adds that new chatbots have left users “awestruck – and sometimes terrified – by their power” and that these are emotions that “lie at the heart of our experience of the divine”.
However, he warned that it could also “take a dark turn”. Prof McArthur said there is no organised religion dedicated to AI, but “it’s all happening on discussion boards like Reddit, with people starting to argue there’s an intelligence or consciousness behind AI”.
Writing in The Conversation, the academic website, he argues that in AI religion, people will be able to communicate directly with it on a daily basis, religion will be less hierarchical, followers will discuss doctrine, and it will be “endlessly diverse”, which could trigger disputes leading to conflict.
Telegraph Media Group Limited