The push for strong AI must have a spiritual basis, because after trying and failing to achieve “AGI” from Turing to Neural Nets, most researchers learned something about the human beings they were attempting to model. If it could be done, as Battlestar Galactica warns, we would burn many of our bizarre biases and belief systems into their firmware. Cylons are monotheists, after all, just like people in most other organized belief systems.
There are people who believe there will one day be a point of “singularity” when human intelligence is overtaken by machine intelligence, and they speculate that a new, super-intelligent organism cross-bred from man and machine could be one of the monumental developments this singularity could bring about.
Lee Gomes writes that singularity advocates talk at length about the need for Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), which is seen as a key singularity milestone. Yet he says AI researchers have been trying, so far unsuccessfully, to achieve this goal since the 1950s. “There is a schism between the AGI and the AI worlds,” Gomes notes. “The AGI faction thinks AI researchers have sold out, abandoning their early dreams of ‘general’ intelligence to concentrate on more attainable (and more lucrative) projects.” Gomes agrees with this assessment, but while AI researchers insist that the revision of their approach was unavoidable given the naivete of their earlier ambitions, singularists are undaunted in their belief that new approaches will yield AGI breakthroughs.
Gomes entertains the notion “that the discussion of singularity involves a sublimated spiritual yearning for some form of eternal life and an all-powerful being, but one articulated by way of technical, secular discourse,” and he perceives significant intersection between singularists and proponents of “life extension.” He adds that the popularity of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence program among singularists reflects a desire for a messianic figure from space, which seems to again indicate that the need for spiritual enlightenment through advanced technology is a running theme among the singularity set.