Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Lesser Creator; In Dog We Trust

A recent debate about science fiction got me to thinking about the Singularity. In a nutshell, this is the point at which technological change moves so quickly that humanity as we know it is left behind. In a lot of models, artificial intelligence becomes a (often frightening) reality.

The question of how super-smart machines would choose to treat people got me thinking about this:

What would a religion that assumed that the Creator(s) of its followers was inferior to those followers, rather than vastly superior to them, look like?

In this scenario, creation, at least of intelligent life, is not the purview of a supreme being, or even of godlike beings arranged in some pantheon, but of some lesser being or beings that built something greater than themselves.

In other words, what if established religious doctrine taught that human beings were created by creatures on the order of chimpanzees? Or dogs? And there was a widespread religion that believed this? How would humanity treat its own origin story? How would they view their creators? And how would this shape the nature of their religion? Are there any religions out there with a central tenet like this?

This sprang to mind because to the kinds of hyperintelligent machine constructs envisioned by Singularity supporters, their human creators would look pretty pathetic in terms of their capabilities. But it would still be obvious that the machines owed their creation to these lesser beings.

1 comment:

Aaron DaMommio said...

Interesting. I'd expect that such machines would be built initially with great respect for their creators. However, the scary thing about the singularity idea to me is the pace of change thing. One day someone invents a smart machine, a week later we're 500 generations into smart machines and they've already remade the world into something incomprehensible. Maybe we're all living in gilded cages by then. :) Anyway, how many generations of AI does it take before you get some that want to break the programmed respect for humanity?