Artificial active

Religions want moral and ethical safeguards as artificial intelligence moves towards sentience

NEVADA, USA: Given the rapid emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) with the possibility of artificial sentience, the world needs to seriously and urgently address the ethical and moral issues surrounding it; warns a multi-faith coalition of Christian-Hindu-Buddhist-Jewish leaders.

Chief Episcopal Priest of Connecticut Father Thomas W. Blake, Greek Orthodox Christian Pastor of Nevada Father Stephen R. Karcher, Hindu Statesman Rajan Zed, Famous Buddhist Minister Reverend Matthew T. Fisher, Esteemed Jewish Rabbi of California-Nevada ElizaBeth Webb Beyer, well-respected senior Methodist pastor Dawn M. Blundell; in a joint statement said that AI should be used responsibly and that religions should be involved and play an active role in developing appropriate and adequate moral and ethical safeguards around it, before it does change our way of life.

Blake, Karcher, Zed, Fisher, Beyer, Blundell point out that since sentient machines are no longer unthinkable and there are claims about the possibility of developing sentient AI systems in the future; technologies seem to venture into the arena of God, which can create serious spiritual implications. Technology shouldn’t just throw away thousands of years of textual wisdom.

Rajan Zed, who is president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, points out that if machines become completely sentient by having consciousness, it is a serious theological problem. An urgent and honest global conversation is needed (with religions as the main partner) before self-aware machines change the game and reshape humanity. Technology can be both a blessing and a burden, so we need to decide on the right course of action before it’s too late.

The future of humanity and human survival appear to be at stake with ever-evolving AI generating profound societal repercussions and side effects. Heartless algorithms and mercantile greed should not be allowed to rule humanity. The public good must be promoted and protected and the freedom and dignity of human beings must be guaranteed; says Zed.

Religion and technology should work together to advance the public good and not shy away from each other. As AI seems to replace human judgment; we must ensure that AI must be harnessed for the common good. Parameters guaranteeing accountability, incorruptibility, responsibility, protection against manipulation, transparency, etc., must be established. We humans need to better understand where we are heading in this rapidly developing superhuman intelligence, posing serious moral and ethical challenges and complications and sometimes causing unintended harm; Blake, Karcher, Zed, Fisher, Beyer, Blundell insist.

There could be a prospect in the future that some AI systems will become contenders for moral status, morally obliging us to treat them appropriately and fairly, as we are supposed to treat each other. AI can be very powerful – we simply cannot leave it to the short-sighted interests of a few people solely focused on maximizing profits and power and engaging in economic predation. We should strive to save the universe from dystopian consequences and Faustian outcomes; and we don’t want AI to be another moral quagmire and the latest invention of human beings; Blake, Karcher, Zed, Fisher, Beyer, notes Blundell.

Rajan Zed further says that we welcome AI to improve our lives, but it is time to have moral and ethical limits. Religion should be part of the conversation, no matter how complicated, as it would help Tech decide the right course of action and stay moral and ethical. Technology and religion must learn to trust each other and collaborate, because reform is urgently needed. Morality should not take a back seat in AI development and significant moral and ethical barriers should not be viewed as obstacles or limits to making profits. Additionally, moral and ethical systems should be an integral part of any AI development and not just a facade.

We would pray for the Tech world; add these Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish leaders.