This is probably going to be one of the most random posts I’ve ever written (arguably) and it’s going to involve the use of your imagination. Whether you’re religious or not, I hope that this post causes you to think not only about your own actions but also about the influence of interpretation within religion. I feel like this could be an interesting movie or book but since it sounds like a more religious and AI-oriented version of 1984, maybe not.
So imagine for a moment that we live in a more technologically advanced world. AI has long been a functional part of our world. If you’ve ever seen I-Robot with Will Smith, imagine the robots are basically the same as that. They are almost like drones controlled from a central AI hub, so to speak. The key difference being that in this world, these robots serve only one function: upholding a holy book.
I’m going to try my best to avoid using a specific holy book, just for arguments sake. Obviously each holy book has varying sins and punishment. There is no room for interpretation by these robots. They are fed the closest to the original holy book texts as possible and that’s it. Humans don’t get the opportunity to add in “oh we think this means X” or “it’s long been known that Y is an exception”. All sins are punishable exactly in the stated way. If no punishment is stated or the deity within the holy book is the one to judge, the robots make an informed decision based on the crimes/sins and corresponding punishments that are mentioned (more on that in a moment).
For example (and I’m going to make this ridiculous rather than use a real-world example): If it was stated that naming your dog Brian was to be punished with head shaving then that would be one of the functions these robots would carry out. If they witness someone calling their dog Brian, they’d gather enough evidence and then carry out the punishment. These robots wouldn’t be law enforcement or do anything related to society’s laws. These robots would uphold only restrictions, laws, commandments, etc mentioned within a religion’s holy book.
There would be some variations of course. There are many sins or crimes within holy books that God can forgive if he so chooses. As such, this worldwide AI would possess a database with profiles for every single person. One of the many things within this profile would be your sin sheet. This would contain all the sins you’ve ever committed. Sins which aren’t punishable by anyone other than God would be tallied up and after each new sin of this type, an equation would be used to determine whether a punishment should be carried out.
So, for example, let’s assume that calling your cat Simba is a sin which isn’t punishable by anyone other than God. This AI has evidence of you doing it 4 times. What would happen, is that your odds would change each time and essentially a dice roll or coin toss would decide your fate. Just to keep things simple, you earn 10% each time such a sin is committed and now you’re on 50%. A random generator within the AI would determine whether you’re to be punished or not. Almost like a coin toss. This is the AI’s way of letting God decide. If the random generator (which is weighted based on your sin percentage) decides it’s punishment time, then the AI views God as allowing that outcome to take place.
The odds would never bee 100% in favour of punishment. That way there would always be the possibility of that 1% being chosen through divine intervention. It’s also worth noting that there wouldn’t be multiple holy books used. Worldwide there would just be one: whether from Christianity or Islam or another isn’t important. If you’re thinking of answering this question, you should use your holy book or the holy book used most within your society.
My question to you is this: would you feel safe? I’d particularly love to hear your point of view if you are indeed religious. If all interpretations that you attach to your faith were removed and all that was left was the holy book, would you feel safe in such a society? Would the world be a better place than it is now or would it be worse?
To be clear, these robots aren’t like those in the films. I’m not talking about Skynet or Ultron or anything, these robots are doing EXACTLY what they were programmed to with no misinterpretation. They aren’t malfunctioning or making decisions outside what they’re programmed to.
Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts and opinions? Let me know down below!
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