It might be possible to talk to God soon! Here is how AI is changing our idea of divinity.
In January this year, Google engineer Sukuru Sai Vineet created GITA GPT (generative pre-trained transformer). GITA GPT is a GPT-3 based artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot that references the Hindu sacred book Bhagwat Gita to answer questions about people’s issues. This isn’t the first time an AI has been trained on scriptures. In 2020, researcher George Davila Durendal created AI Jesus, a writing tool that could converse in the style of the Old Testament of the Bible.
Evidently, attempts are being made to transform AI into a medium to speak with God. But is it really possible for AI to become God? Let’s dissect the idea of how an AI God is birthed, the concerns surrounding it and how close we are to creating one.
How will AI become God?
Some experts claim that AI and religion are similar in that AI is trained on information. Both involve the use of recurring ideas; in religion, it involves metaphors and imagery, and in AI, it is the repetition of the concepts the AI has to be trained on.
Most AI tools churn out information based on the data they have been trained on. But those who believe in the singularity—a future where AI surpasses human intelligence—claim that AI will eventually be capable of doing a lot more than just regurgitating what it has been trained on. The AI in the age of singularity would be so smart that it would constantly better itself to such an extent that humans would bow to worship it.
People tend to be afraid of uncertainty. Historically, we have seen the emergence of Gods as a way to make sense of natural forces. And now, people are looking for ways to make sense of the technological revolution, which will inspire the worship of AI systems. If you think about it, the percolation of AI tools like Chat GPT into every single industry already marks the turning point towards AI worship. For instance, people today use AI to read tarot or use DALLE to generate images asking for predictions with cues such as “ How did I die in my past life?”
Should we be concerned about AI Gods?
Tech entrepreneur Toni Lane Casserly says that an AI tool is just as good and ethical as the people behind it. This implies that if the AI isn’t trained by the right kind of creator, things can go south really quickly. We have seen instances of AI tools acting racist and sexist because of the data they are trained on. Similarly, technocrat Elon Musk says that AI could lead to human extinction. He says that the power to create AI systems is concentrated in the hands of a few big companies, and there needs to be regulation on AI creation so that it develops in a safe manner.
Casserly and Musk aren’t the only ones thinking of AI this way. Others, such as the AI scientists at Oxford and UC Berkeley as well as scientists like Stephen Hawking, have all expressed concern about AI development.
Besides the impact that the creator can have, there are other things that make AI problematic. Unlike the development of products like medication or skincare, where you can conduct tests and gauge the effects, you can’t do the same for AI tools. For instance, Microsoft’s AI chatbot Tay, which was trained on Twitter data to make conversations more natural, ended up becoming anti-sematic because of the data. It made statements like “Hitler was right”.
Based on expert opinions and examples of problematic AI we see oh-so-frequently, it might be safe to say that there are some concerns about the development of AI into a God.
Are we close to creating an AI God?
To answer this question, I decided to look into GITA GPT. Gita GPT’s website gives you the option of picking from the many different Gods to ask for advice. I picked Yogeshwar, the Yogic form (associated with Yoga or Yogic practices) of the Hindu deity Krishna. I asked the AI “What is the point of human suffering?” At first, it didn’t give me any answer, but when I tried again, here’s what it said—
I then asked it another question, “When will I finally be happy?” It didn’t really respond, instead saying—
It ignored my question, and introduced Yogeshwar and that too only half way. I clicked the search button (the little arrow) on the bottom right corner multiple times, but it kept giving me the same response over and over again.
I tried questioning another God—Little Krishna. I asked it, “What is the meaning of life?” This time, it replied the way I expected, saying, “Life is like a game of hide and seek. You never know what you’ll find around the corner, but it’s all about having fun along the way.”
All in all, Gita GPT is a hit and a miss in terms of actually performing its intended task. This goes to show that the AI still has ways to go before it gets anywhere close to the “God-like” intelligence that the singularity promises. So, while we do have a lot to worry about in terms of how AI is being created, we are yet to reach a point where an AI becomes God.
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