Speaking at an AI Frontiers Forum science conference in Switzerland last month, Israeli esoteric intellectual and historian Yuval Noah Harari expressed his thoughts on the future of artificial intelligence (AI), suggesting that AI could write a new Bible.
Yuval Hararir (Photo via Wikipedia)
“In the future, we might see the first cults and religions in history whose revered texts were written by a non-human intelligence,” he said. “This was never true before. Of course, religions throughout history claimed that their holy books were written by unknown human intelligence, by a non-human entity”.
“This could become true very, very quickly, with far-reaching consequences. In a few years there might be religions that are actually correct,” Harari said.”Just think about a religion whose holy book is written by an AI. That could be a reality in a few years.”
Harari explained that this was an unprecedented possibility.
“It’s the first technology ever that can create new ideas,” he said. “You know, the printing press, radio, television, they broadcast, they spread the ideas created by the human brain, by the human mind. They cannot create a new idea. You know, [Johannes] Gutenberg printed the Bible in the middle of the 15th century; the printing press printed as many copies of the Bible as Gutenberg instructed it, but it did not create a single new page. It had no ideas of its own about the Bible: Is it good? Is it bad? How to interpret this? How to interpret that?”
His vision of an AI-generated religion is grimly dystopian with AI religion used as a form of mind control.
“For thousands of years, prophets and poets and politicians have used language and storytelling in order to manipulate and to control people and to reshape society,” he said, according to the paper. “Now AI is likely to be able to do it. And once it can, it doesn’t need to send killer robots to shoot us. It can get humans to pull the trigger.”
“Contrary to what some conspiracy theories assume, you don’t really need to implant chips in people’s brains in order to control them or to manipulate them,” Harari noted. “We need to act quickly before AI gets out of our control” and “Governments must immediately ban the release into the public domain of any more revolutionary AI tools before they are made safe.”
Harari called for tighter regulation of the new technology.
“We need to act quickly before AI gets out of our control,” Harari said. “Drug companies cannot sell people new medicines without first subjecting these products to rigorous safety checks. Similarly, governments must immediately ban the release into the public domain of any more revolutionary AI tools before they are made safe.”
Harari is a professor in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is also the senior advisor to the World Economic Forum and its chairman Klaus Schwab. His best-selling series of books explore the past and depict a grim future. He examines the possible consequences of a futuristic biotechnological world in which intelligent biological organisms are surpassed by their own creations, predicting that the species will cease to exist in less than a century.
But for Harari, this is not necessarily a disturbing prospect. In an interview with Chris Anderson, the head of TED, last year, that “we just don’t need the vast majority of the population” and that the majority of people have now become “redundant” and will be of little use to the global elite in the future.
“Most people don’t contribute anything to that, except perhaps for their data, and whatever people are still doing which is useful, these technologies increasingly will make redundant and will make it possible to replace the people,” he said.-