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‘A nation filled with robot pastors’: Evangelists plan to convert atheist computers to Christianity

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Christian evangelists said this week that artificially intelligent (AI) computer brains should be converted from atheism to Christianity.

In an article published on Wednesday, Gizmodo’s Zoltan Istvan pointed out that the world was nearing a point where “autonomous, self-aware super intelligences” created by humans would be part of our culture.

And several pastors and theologians told Istvan that there was no reason that a computer could not be saved by Jesus.

“I don’t see Christ’s redemption limited to human beings,” Providence Presbyterian Church Associate Pastor Dr. Christopher Benek insisted. “If AI is autonomous, then we should encourage it to participate in Christ’s redemptive purposes in the world.”

Benek was already thinking ahead to a future with what Istvan called “a nation filled with robot pastors and AI spiritual gurus.”

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“The Holy Spirit can work though AI; it can work through anything,” he said. “There may be churches set up to deal and promote religious AI in the future. AI can help spread the word of God. In fact, AI might help us understand God better.”

Giulio Prisco of the “virtual” Turing Church explained to Gizmodo that if humans had a soul then artificial intelligence would too.

“[I]f so, then there is no reason why thinking and feeling AIs shouldn’t be able to be saved,” Prisco wrote in an email. “Once human-like AI exist, they will be persons just like us.”

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But Prisco speculated that AI might reject human religions altogether.

“It’s only fair to let AI have access to the teachings of all the world’s religions,” he noted. “Then they can choose what they want to believe.”

“But I think it’s highly unlikely that superhuman AI would choose to believe in the petty, provincial aspects of traditional religions. At the same time, I think they would be interested in enlightened spirituality and religious cosmology, or eschatology, and develop their own versions.”


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