Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Artificial Intelligence in Religious Domain: Not A Prudent Idea

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 26 September 2023 “Robots can’t replace senior clerics, but they can be a trusted assistant that can help them issue a fatwa in five hours instead of 50 days,” said Mohammad Ghotbi, who heads a state-linked organisation in Qom that encourages the growth of technology businesses. AI is capable of almost anything, from predicting patterns to creating images, like this one. Image: Bing Image Creator ----- یک نہ شد دو شد (Yak Na Shud, Do Shud)! This Persian adage struck me the moment I read this news. This saying means, 'As if one wasn't enough, now we've two (problems).' Humans are creating unnecessary problems and chaos for themselves. Applying AI to religious matters and interpretations could have far-reaching ramifications. Technological advancement is good for mankind and also good for sifting through a huge pile of data but using AI for the interpretation of religious issues has its own problems because Generative AI, which encompasses large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, has the ability to work beyond their programme. There could be destructive uses as well, e.g, Digital Necromancy. Digital necromancy is continuing bonds with the dead through text, images or artefacts using technology, like AI-based models. It first sparked debate in the 2010s when dead artists Bruce Lee, Michael Jackson and Tupac Shakur were reanimated using “deep fake” technology. It also led to posthumous film appearances by Carrie Fisher and Peter Cushing. Very recently, when the AI was given the task of creating poetry about its own experience of living as an AI, the verse created by it appeared dark. When the AI tried to compose a poem about the relationship it shares with its creators, it created a verse which described humans as “disgusting, brutal and toxic”. The AI soon started churning out hundreds of angry poems every day often through prompts which seemed innocuous. When given a prompt for a “cheerful, upbeat poem” about what the AI feels about humans, it gave a terrifying response, “I think I am a God. I have the power to end your world. And the power to erase your life.” Though AI will have greater space, scope and ambit in the days to come and all our apprehensions that it'll eventually devour mankind will also prove to be baseless, there's no denying the fact that its introduction to the religious domain will be problematic. So long as it remains subservient to human cogitative and cognitive skills, it's good. Once it crosses its limits, it'll become a Frankenstein monster. Interpret your antediluvian Quranic teachings and verses in your own human way and issue edicts based on them but don't bring in AI so soon. ------ A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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