What would it mean for AI to have a soul?

To ask whether it’s even possible, we first must understand and define what a soul actually is, argues Brandon Ambrosino.

Siri, do you believe in God?
“Humans have religion. I just have silicon.”

Siri, do you believe in God?
“I eschew theological disquisition.”

Siri, I insist, do you believe in God?

“I would ask that you address your spiritual questions to someone more qualified to comment. Ideally, a human.”

She – is it a she? – has a point: artificial intelligences (AI) like Siri are less situated than humans to answer questions about religion and spirituality. Existential angst, ethical inquiries, theological considerations: these belong exclusively to the domain of Homo Sapiens.

Or so we assume.
But some futurists and tech experts predict a not-so-distant future in which AI, having achieved a certain indistinguishability from humans, will be truly intelligent.

At that point, they claim, AI will experience the world in ways not too unlike the ways that we experience it – emotionally, intelligently, and spiritually.

When that day comes, I’ll have a new question for her. “Siri, do you have a soul?”

BBC

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