#MediaLit17 Chronicles 5: Could AI have souls?

The afternoon session concluded after having talked through a variety of different practical solutions for using technology in church or for podcasting and vlogging. Then we transitioned into evening prayer, done via the Church of England app or website. There was also the option to tweet a prayer if wanted during this.

I tweeted this:

https://twitter.com/SamuelSThorp/status/874292647946588160

We will be doing this throughout the week, but my initial experience was that interacting with the laptop during prayer meant that I didn’t feel as naturally present to prayer as I would normally. I’ll see how it goes during the week.

After dinner our evening session has been to think about whether or not a sentient AI would have a soul or not. This prompted a very interesting discussion, which has been helped by all watching the first episode of Humans.

These conversations were very preliminary, and raised more some of the assumptions which we make in discussing these topics. For instance, we discussed whether or not humans are mind body soul, or whether we are a holistic integrated part which couldn’t easily be divided. The import of this was the question as to what would the nature of an AI’s soul be? Is the soul a metaphysical construct which could spontaneously arise as a reality which is actually present though not materially inherent within the material structure of whatever network an AI would have that would serve as a brain.

There was some discussion as to whether pursuing AI was morally okay given the potential to be making them in ‘our image’ as God made us in his. We also talked around the idea of other sentient non-humans, such as dolphins and, controversially, angels.

The evening was an enjoyable time exploring and pondering on some different topics and ideas, and Humans looks to be a great show — I might have to watch the rest of the series sometime.


Forgot to hit ‘publish’ last night, hence posting this morning! The next theme is ‘Communicating Faithfully’ and the morning sessions will be brought to us by Pete Phillips, director of CODEC.

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