Artificial Intelligence is a hot topic right now, and AGI "General Intelligence" has always just been a couple of decades away. So I've been wondering: We believe that a human differs from an animal because we have a neshama, and this grants us a higher intelligence. If so, is "General intelligence" possible? Or will it never happen, because our computer program won't have a soul, leaving it on the level of an animal?


This bothers me a lot also, and here's what I propose:

  1. Simple, self learning computer systems (AIs) already exist, so they are compatible with Judaism de facto. To jump into an AGI world we would need a definition for intelligence or consciousness. As for now, we, humans, don't have a clear definition for consciousness, for us to be able to judge other beings (animate or inanimate) on this scale.
  2. General AI is a concept, a speculation, based on the general theory of evolution, proposing a natural emergence of consciousness as a process of self-evolving inanimate matter based on exponential increase in processing power (human brains). The logic is simple, if spontaneous mutations in inanimate DNA lead necessarily to appearance of conscious beings like humans, a growing self sophisticating digital system can reach it too, once it reaches the same level of processing power (see Ray Kurzweil's logic).
  3. This point was never proven, just like with the Evolution theory. This is exactly where we part - Judaism and "Science". We claim, that any inanimate system, indistinguishable from a human being as it can be (see the Turing test) will never be "humanly" conscious. See the China room thought experiment. Therefore, in my understanding, AI does not pose a challenge to Judaism, as it presents nothing new.
  4. According to many apocalyptic views by leading scientists, philosophers and entrepreneurs (citations needed), the humanity will reach the point of (possibility of) mass extinction long before the full grown AGI will emerge. May I remind you, we only need one machine going haywire to spur the prophecies of the Messianic days and Gog and Magog wars. This is where it perfectly fits. It also seems the most plausible scenario to me.
  • The first 3 paragraphs make sense, but what do you mean by 'we only need one machine going haywire'? Are you referring to AI or something else entirely? – Rafael Nov 20 '17 at 22:23
  • It's like with nukes (so to speak). It does not matter if we have 10 or 10,000. One nuke is enough to end the world. – Al Berko Nov 21 '17 at 13:28
  • No, that I understand. What type of machine are you referring to? – Rafael Nov 22 '17 at 2:15
  • Just about any, read this waitbutwhy.com/2015/01/…. Say the "Go" machine having access to the Internet, deciding expanding itself to the whole world. Or this: youtube.com/watch?v=HipTO_7mUOw. As we totally loose control of what's going inside those machines, it is a viable possibility. BTW, who coined "Survival of the fittest"? – Al Berko Nov 22 '17 at 14:10
  • Your whole answer (or at least paragraphs 1-3) states that AGI is not possible. Why did you say in the 4th paragraph that AI might take over the world? – Rafael Nov 23 '17 at 0:22

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