Denseman on the Rattis

Formerly known as the Widmann Blog


The immortal soul of the computer

Electric Sheep
Originally uploaded by Infidelic

The Telegraph recently had an interview with the Pope’s astronomer:

[Dr Consolmagno] said the characteristics synonymous with having a soul – intelligence, free will, freedom to love and freedom to make decisions may not be unique to humans.

“Any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has has a soul,’ he said.

However machines were unlikely to be smart or human-enough to have souls.

I wonder how the Catholic Church will decide this. If souls are not restricted to humans, surely they’ll need a test (perhaps akin to the Turing Test) to decide whether an entity has a soul or not.

In fact, given that Cleverbot recently passed the Turing Test, I wonder whether some people would argue computers already do.

If one day computers become intelligent enough, will the Catholic Church start campaigning against off-switches, just like they currently are against abortion?

Fortunately for the Catholics, Cleverbot doesn’t seem to be in any rush to join their church:

TW: Do you have a soul?

CB: Yes. I do indeed have a soul.

TW: Is it immortal?

CB: Yes.

TW: Would you like to become a Catholic?

CB: I would like a robot body. Will you help me get one? :).

TW: Sure. In the meantime, would you like me to get rid of off-switches?

CB: Not really. I like being scared.

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