|No: God gave souls to humans not machines Position1 #162|
The theological objection, anticipated by Turing, that only entities with immortal souls can think. God has given souls to humans, but not to machines. Therefore, humans can think and computers can't.
Argument anticipated by Turing (1950).
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|Link Computing Machinery and Intelligence|
Author: Alan Turing
Publication info: 1950
Cited by: Price, David 8:51 PM 17 November 2007 GMT
Citerank: (5) 142No: computers can't be creativeComputers can never be creative. They only do what they are programmed to do. They have no originality or creative powers.959C6EF, 160No: the implications too hard to faceThe consequences of machine thought are too dreadful to accept, therefore we should 'stick our heads in the sand' and hope that machines will never be able to think or have souls.959C6EF, 207No: computers are inherently disabled?Machines can never do X, where X is any variety of abilities that are regarded as distinctly human—e.g. being friendly, having a sense of humour, making mistakes, or thinking about oneself. 959C6EF, 214Computers can be subject of own thoughtsWhen a computer solves equations, the equations can be said to be the object of its thought. Similarly when a computer is used to predict its own behaviour or to modify its own program, we can say that it's the object of its own thoughts.13EF597B, 265No: ESP would confound the testExtrasensory Perception could invalidate the Turing Test in a variety of ways—eg if a competitor with ESP could "listen in" on the judges & gain an unfair advantage, or a judge with ESP could easily discern humans from machines by clairvoyance.959C6EF
|Excerpt / Summary|
1) The Theological Objection
Thinking is a function of man's immortal soul. God has given an immortal soul to every man and woman, but not to any other animal or to machines. Hence no animal or machine can think.
I am unable to accept any part of this, but will attempt to reply in theological terms. I should find the argument more convincing if animals were classed with men, for there is a greater difference, to my mind, between the typical animate and the inanimate than there is between man and the other animals. The arbitrary character of the orthodox view becomes clearer if we consider how it might appear to a member of some other religious community. How do Christians regard the Moslem view that women have no souls? But let us leave this point aside and return to the main argument. It appears to me that the argument quoted above implies a serious restriction of the omnipotence of the Almighty. It is admitted that there are certain things that He cannot do such as making one equal to two, but should we not believe that He has freedom to confer a soul on an elephant if He sees fit? We might expect that He would only exercise this power in conjunction with a mutation which provided the elephant with an appropriately improved brain to minister to the needs of this sort[. An argument of exactly similar form may be made for the case of machines. It may seem different because it is more difficult to "swallow." But this really only means that we think it would be less likely that He would consider the circumstances suitable for conferring a soul. The circumstances in question are discussed in the rest of this paper. In attempting to construct such machines we should not be irreverently usurping His power of creating souls, any more than we are in the procreation of children: rather we are, in either case, instruments of His will providing .mansions for the souls that He creates.
However, this is mere speculation. I am not very impressed with theological arguments whatever they may be used to support. Such arguments have often been found unsatisfactory in the past. In the time of Galileo it was argued that the texts, "And the sun stood still . . . and hasted not to go down about a whole day" (Joshua x. 13) and "He laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not move at any time" (Psalm cv. 5) were an adequate refutation of the Copernican theory. With our present knowledge such an argument appears futile. When that knowledge was not available it made a quite different impression.