Believers in the human soul, would you still believe in a separate, supernatural soul if an AI becomes self aware?
Feel free to contribute whether you believe in supernatural souls or not; Here is the full question:
Suppose that as AIs progress, machines increasingly seem capable of some level of “thinking”. One certainly would not say a toilet float-valve thinks. It maintains the water level in the tank rather accurately, but it doesn’t “care” about doing that. Nor does a thermostat “care” if the house is too hot or too cold. It slavishly strives to keep the house at the temperature it is set to maintain, even if that temperature is ridiculously hot or cold. My desktop computer does some wondrous things, but thinking at even the most rudimentary level is simply not among its mastered tricks.
But looking at animals, we see a slow progression toward thought. The more complex single cell animals avoid certain threats, and approach food. But nobody would call that thought. They do not even have a brain. Mosquitoes do have a brain, albeit a very small one. They sense stimuli around them to try to avoid getting swatted and to try to suck blood. But if any of their activities approach thought, it is indeed a remote approach. However, as we get up to animals such as cats and dogs, some “thinking” does seem to go on. Some of our primate cousins can clearly think, can solve puzzles, figure out ways to communicate and use creative thinking to solve problems.
So it may be reasonably to expect that as machines progress in capability beyond desktop computers to supercomputers, and eventually vast 100 trillion node neural networks, they may show ever greater levels of “thinking”. A machine will come along that learns ever more, that can form an ever-expanding set of associations and build analogies and categories for concepts it learns, and can draw on any and all the associations it has learned to build new associations and categories. At some point, we will talk with a machine and realize if is no longer a Machine “that” Thinks but a Machine “who” Thinks. It will be self aware, self referential, understanding that it has a unique “point of view” separate from all the other whos out there. It will want to have a name. It will refer to itself as “I” and that will make perfect sense to it, and to anyone who gets to know it.
If that prediction comes to pass, will those who believe the “I” in each of us is a separate, eternal and supernatural soul just assume that God decided to give the AI a soul, or will it shake the foundation of belief that “I“ness is more than just an epiphenomenon of physics found in very high order neural networks with sufficient sensory observational powers?