Catholicism & AGI & the singularity

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Mon Jul 01 2002 - 08:43:40 MDT

One last post before heading off for vacation ;)

A Catholic friend, who is also a friend of high technology, had the
following comments to make [these are a bit scattered because they were
parts of a longer e-mail].

They are a bit different from that of my other Catholic acquaintance who
commented on this by telephone.... The disparity between these comments
shows how tough it is to generalize about "the Catholic's reaction to
AGI/Singularity", which is not surprising, given the impossibility of
generalizing about "the Scientist's reaction to AGI/Singularity"!

One thing that should be noted is that my circle of friends & acquaintainces
is very far from a scientific sample of the religious population -- I know
mostly scientists and techies, and religious folks who are scientists or
techies also, will generally have views that are a lot more science and tech
friendly than that of the average religious person.... [Just as, for
instance, a survey of the scientists I know would reveal that scientists
tend to have a liking for avant-garde music and existentialist philosophy,
but this says more about whom I know than about scientists as a whole...]

anyway here goes:

>I think the probability of the AGI to arrive at any
> specific belief system to be vanishingly small, but I also think that the
> AGI could consider some religous beliefs to be true. I don't consider it
> critical that the AGI arrives at my specific beliefs, or at Catholicism or
> even at Christianity.


> I don't want (at this point) to speculate whether an AGI could have a soul
> or not. I think this question is completely irrelevant. I can't see why a
> soul would be necessary to see the truth of Christianity. (I was
> tempted to
> put 'truth of Christianity' under quotes '"truth" of Ch.', to make clear
> that what I see as Ch.'s truth is probably not what you think).


> My own view, *very* briefly summarized, is that no religion is the only
> correct one (I guess this is the point where I disagree with most other
> Catholics), but that in many/most/all religions some aspects of the *real
> truth* (whatever that might be) can be found.


> I think that AGI is possible, and I want to see it happen
> I don't know whether SI [superintelligence] is possible, but I'm scared by
> idea of a SI in the hands of the military.


>I'm not a
> Singulitarian, I don't
> know whether a (the) Singularity will be possible, whether it will happen
> if it is possible, and whether it will be good if it happens. Uploading,
> eternal life (in the transhumanist sense), etc. are the things that come
> near to my own conflict


> I don't have answers
> here, and I
> try to find them by considering rational arguments, faith (but not "blind
> faith"), the Bible, etc., and I'm willing to discuss my thoughts. I'm
> certainly not someone who blindly believes others' statements, be it the
> priests' or the scientists'. I'll consider all arguments and hope
> to arrive
> at the truth myself. I assume an AGI would act similarly.

And that concludes this week's unscientific, undersampled survey of the
religious population ... hasta la vista folks...

-- Ben G

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