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Minister Wants To Convert Artificial Intelligences To Christianity
Reverend Christopher Benek, associate pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church in Florida, is sincere in his belief that artificial intelligences should be welcomed into the Christian faith.
(Seok Gyeong-Jae, bride and Tiro the Robot 'Minister')
"I don't see Christ's redemption limited to human beings," Benek said in an interview with the futurist Zoltan Istvan. "It's redemption to all of creation, even AI.
"If AI is autonomous, then we should encourage it to participate in Christ's redemptive purposes in the world."
Benek believes there is an important aspect to artificial intelligence being overlooked by celebrated scientist Hawking.
"Hawking's concerns sound scary on the surface, and they are shared by many, but he isn't considering one very important aspect of humanity that will affect AIs," Benek said in a blogpost last year.
"Hawking is ignoring that the vast number of the world's human beings consider themselves to be spiritual beings and how that belief has positively affected the world.
There is seemingly no reason that robots and AI's should remain among the laity. In his 1971 story Good News From The Vatican, writer Robert Silverberg tells the story of a robot cardinal who might one day become pope.
This is the morning everyone has waited for, when at last the robot cardinal is to be elected Pope. There can no longer be any doubt of the outcome... a compromise is in the making. All factions are now agreed on the selection of the robot. This morning I read in Osservatore Romano that the Vatican computer itself has taken a hand in the deliberations. The computer has been strongly urging the candidacy of the robot. I suppose we should not be surprised by this loyalty among machines...
(Read more about Silverberg's robot pope)
Clifford Simak wrote on a similar theme in his 1981 novel Project Pope.
(Project Pope by Clifford Simak [cover])
I should also mention Philip K. Dick's Padre booth from his 1969 novel Galactic Pot-Healer:
Getting to his feet he crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth; inside he put a dime into the slot and dialed at random. The marker came to rest at Zen.
"Tell me your torments," the Padre said, in an elderly voice marked with compassion. And slowly; it spoke as if there were no rush, no pressures. All was timeless.
Joe said "I haven't worked for seven months and now I've got a job that takes me out of the Sol system entirely, and I'm afraid. What if I can't do it? What if I've lost my skill?
The Padre's weightless voice floated back reassuringly to him. "You have worked and not worked. Not working is the hardest work of all."
Fans of Futurama may recall this depiction of a "bot mitzvah".
("Bot-Mitzvah" from Futurama)
Don't miss 'Electronic Mufti' May Issue Machine Fatwas and Information Age 'Pray-O-Mat' if you're as absorbed in this topic as I am.
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