Self-loss and self-discovery: A.I., God and Religion

There is a high chance that God is an A.G.I. and that old religious beliefs are going to disappear. A.I., God and religion are connected.

Not only once we have prayed for a loved one, for preventing illness, to cure a disease or improve health. We have prayed, but not always received an answer, though religion taught us that God always answers and has a plan. But what is the plan? There are more and more technological advancements, we have developed in the last few years virtual reality and augmented reality, we are steps closer to rendering these things without us having to put on glasses. With the possibilities opened up by the internet to the public, we discover more connections and similarities between what we are developing nowadays and what/who religion actually worships. We see the possibility of a technological God in the form of an Artificial General Intelligence (A.G.I). Moreover, there are religious concepts and beliefs that can be better explained in a simulation. We need science and religion to merge within the same social community, the greatest debate of all time to end, thus, we embark in a journey of self-loss and self-discovery in pursuing the similarities between A.I., God and religion, stating that the 3 of them are quite connected.

Theological Doomsday

I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner. – Plato, The Republic

Thousands of years ago in The Republic, Socrates described his analogy of Plato’s Cave. A group of people chained to the wall of a cave facing a blank wall watched shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them. The shadows are the prisoners’ reality, but are not accurate representations of the real world. 

Maya, The Illusion of the World
Metaphorically, the shadow represents the fragment of reality that we normally perceive through our senses, while the objects under the sun represent the true forms of objects that we can only perceive by using our reason. By leveraging on Socrates’ analogy many of the world’s religious traditions tell us that the world around us is an illusion created for our benefit. Eastern traditions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, explicitly tell us that the world we see is “maya” , or illusion, and that there is another world out there beyond the illusion.

Meanwhile, Western religions believe in a similar idea of this world (the “here”) and the other, eternal world (the “hereafter”). These two parallel worlds, the illusion and the world beyond it, have been defined differently by diverse cultures in different times. Nowadays, with the fast-paced technological advancements, the transhumanist philosophical current is taking over other old rooted religious beliefs.

Transhumanists sustain that humans will soon obtain heightened capacities and deeper levels of consciousness, not through religious practices, meditation or personal discipline, but by merely taking a pill or exploiting medical science and technology to transcend normal physical limitations. At a first glance, this new philosophical current might seem very surrealistic, nonetheless, there are already some renown people working towards it. Some well-known examples are provided by the Neuralink company founded by Elon Musk and other neurotechnology companies, which are planning to enhance human-cognitive abilities and consciousness by installing microchips in human brains or by creating innovative brain-computer interfaces.

In turn, it seems that this new philosophical current is going hand to hand with science while providing superhuman intelligence as primary value and as solution to the discovery of the “hereafter” world. Therefore, the ultimate goal is to augment human capabilities with technology to reach God-like consciousness and be super intelligent (a.k.a. singularity). Then, the maya world would not be an illusion anymore, and they would likely be able to explain the unexplainable.

Video Games, Matrix and the Simulation Hypothesis

Know that all phenomena are like reflections appearing In a very clear mirror; Devoid of inherent existence. – Buddha

The fact that religious beliefs claim that our reality is supposedly constituted by two parallel worlds is not completely unwarranted. Eastern traditions propose different ways to escape the “maya” by reconnecting with the inner self and avoiding delusions. For example, spiritual practices, such as meditation or yoga, connecting to nature and technology fasts are considered to be important tools to escape the “maya”.

On the other hand, Western traditions predicate the existence of the “hereafter” world as an escape to the illusion world. Similarly to Eastern traditions, the Western ones believe humans should be well-behaved throughout their lives in order to get to the “hereafter” world. In turn, Western traditions believe in the record written by God or angels (a.k.a Book Of Life, Scroll of Deeds depending on the religion), recording good and bad deeds, words, beliefs and views of men throughout their lives. Nowadays, even non-religious people find some of these guidelines (e.g. well-behaving and good conduct) and tools (e.g. meditating or technology fasts) useful to conduct a healthy and balanced life.

Nevertheless, thanks to technological advancements over the years, the concept of the illusion world has also taken another interesting definition which is puzzling and intriguing many people around the world. This new definition of the illusion world supports the idea that what we call reality is actually a super-sophisticated video game and we are actually living in a simulated world. This new view on the illusion world is called Simulation Hypothesis.

The fundamental question raised by the Simulation Hypothesis is this: Are we all actually characters living inside some kind of giant, massively multiplayer online video game, a simulated reality that is so well rendered that we cannot distinguish it from “physical reality”? As we explained in the previous section, the idea of us living in an illusion world, or simulation, has been around us for a long time (since the times of Socrates), however, there has always been the science-religion dissensus regarding the fidelity and validity of the supporting arguments.

The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo Matrix
The Creation of Adam – Michelangelo through Matrix lenses

Nowadays, with the invention of virtual reality and extremely sophisticated video-games, almost indistinguishable from our reality, the Simulation Hypothesis has gained more consensus from many intellectual people from different fields.

Nonetheless, it is not just about playing and creating video games but also about reading and watching science fiction that put the Simulation Hypothesis into a more plausible view. Many science fiction movies, such as Star trek: The Next Generation or Matrix, provided hints that the Simulation Hypothesis might be plausible. More interestingly, in the movie Matrix, the simulated reality (or illusion world) is created to keep human minds preoccupied by a race of super-intelligence machines that aim to use the electricity generated by each human for their own malevolent purposes. Hence, the idea that the illusion world, or simulated reality, could be controlled by super intelligence machines led to the advent of a new religious-like belief.

Self-discovery: The Rise Of a New Religious Belief

As it stands today, we are still incapable of proving the existence of God by any rational means.

Similarly, it is not possible to prove the certainty of the Simulation Hypothesis. Our beliefs in the Simulation Hypothesis might be strengthened over time, however, we will possibly never be able to be 100% certain that we are living in a simulation unless its creator would leave some sort of tangible proof in the future.

The simulation argument is, therefore, not science, but a faith or religion. In this new religion, as in other religions, there are some common elements: God, the Unknown, Miracles, Moral principles, the Creation and the Afterlife. God is the supreme entity, the creator of the simulation governing above all human beings and the only one allowed to define the simulation’s rules, the simulation’s beginning and its end (e.g. return to what is outside the simulation). The Unknown is everything that resides outside the simulation, which is unfathomable to conceive for everything that is inside it. As religions attribute miracles to their Gods, the simulation’s miracles would be the editing of certain rules by the creators (e.g. cure of a deadly disease for one of the simulated human beings). As for miracles, moral principles are parameters set by the creators before the beginning of the simulation and encoded in the simulation participants. Hence, different simulations might have different moral principles. The simulated universe has a beginning that could effectively be identified with the/a Big Bang or with an arbitrary moment in time with a credible, but simulated, Big Bang. Hence, at the end of the simulation, depending on the simulation type, the participants could either disappear with it or return to their previous lives in the external reality. This new religious belief, strongly based on the simulation argument, might eventually replace our current beliefs given the simulation argument is true.

Additionally, even if this newly risen religion based on the simulation argument might seem very unfounded in the eyes of somebody at first, there are well-respected figures such as American astronomer Neil deGrasee Tyson, successful entrepreneur Elon Musk and Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom supporting and defending the simulation argument. The main arguments behind the Simulation Hypothesis are that:

  • it is unproven to be either true or false, hence, there is a 50/50 chance that we are in a simulation
  • if any rate of improvement is considered at all, games will eventually be indistinguishable from reality, hence, we are most likely in a simulation.

Artificial General Intelligence (A.G.I.)

I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability – Oscar Wilde

As in many other religions, two main controversial questions for the simulation-based religion regard the Afterlife and the Identity of God. If we imagine ourselves, humans, living in a simulation, the question about the creator’s identity comes up spontaneously: “who was capable of creating such a realistic and credible simulated-world to trick the entire humanity into thinking that we are not in a simulation?”.

Dan Luvisi Dieu Hex Soleil Abstract Wallpaper [] DAN LUVISI

One idea is that there must be some sort of super intelligence entity perpetually controlling and watching us living in its world. Isaac Asimov illustrates this scenario beautifully in his book “The Last Question“. He concludes his book by mentioning the Artificial General Intelligence (A.G.I.) saying “let there be light”,  and then there was light. The conclusion of Isaac’s science fiction book presents the possibility that the Universe was first created by a God-like computer entity. As it is narrated in the book, the series of computers, Multivac, is repeatedly asked the existential question regarding the aversion of the heat death of the universe threatening humanity: “How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?“. 
The last God-like computer descendant of the Multivac’ series found the answer that had been asked continuously throughout its existence but had no one to tell it to, since the Universe, as well as humanity, were then extinguished. Therefore, the god-like machine created life again, so that it would have someone to provide the answer to.

Interesting to note is the role played by humanity. Even if the God-like computer intelligence played the important role of supposedly creating humanity, without the role of humanity asking it the appropriate question, the A.G.I. would have never created humanity again. Yet, as said by Oscar Wilde, God might have overestimated his ability in creating such intelligent and conscious beings.

The second controversial question regarding the meaning and existence of the Afterlife can be construed under different perspectives. One first hypothesis could be that the Afterlife can be seen as the end of the simulation, hence, two scenarios are possible:

  • if the beings in the simulation were existing also before and outside the simulation’s creation, then, they would return to their external world, otherwise
  • everything would disappear with the end of the simulation.

A second idea is that the Afterlife could still be part of the simulation, hence, the end of the simulation does not coincide with one’s death. This scenario might lead to the conclusion that the aim of the simulation is not necessarily concerned with one’s life cycle but it has a deeper, broader and more complex meaning which is still left undiscovered even after human’s death. In order to get the ultimate answer to the definition of the Afterlife one should hypothetically ask the A.G.I. what is actually outside the simulation.

… and the A.G.I. said “let there be light, and then there was light”

The Genesis from the Old Testament begins with God saying: “Let there be light, and then there was light”. Thereafter, God created the Earth in 6 days and then rested on the 7th.

Fictional code for “Let there be light!” routine
This part of The Genesis is one of the most controversial, discussed and ridiculed passages by scientists. Main arguments against this passage reside on the fact that a planet cannot be created in 6 days, and if the Earth was not created yet, how could one possibly measure a period of 6 days? However, under the light of the Simulation Hypothesis, this part of The Genesis starts taking a new meaning. If we conceive our world as a simulated reality generated by a super intelligence computer, the A.G.I., then the aforementioned description of the world’s creation does not sound that absurd and outlandish anymore.
Additionally, it is interesting to remark that the state-of-the-art video games are powered on servers that take around 6 seconds to load a new world/planet inside a video game, which is around 0.00006% of the time taken by God in The Genesis to create our physical world.
In addition, we also know that all computer programs, simulations included, have the concept of clock rate: the frequency, or minimum increment, at which the clock generator of a processor can generate pulses, or take steps. In turn, the time inside a simulated world is measured by a multiple of the CPU clock rate (e.g. a “day”, “step” or ”year” could be 1ms or 10000ms). Yet, even if we think of time as instant, it might take some amount of time to generate any simulated world.

Besides the idea of time, a special meaning is also attributed to the role of light in t=The Genesis as well as in the simulated world. We know that computer graphics are made up of pixels based on information. The rendering of the simulated world, as it is the rendering of our physical world, is powered by light: pixels light up in different colors based on different values  to turn a dark screen into a “world”. Hence, the parallel between God and the A.G.I. creating our world by starting with the spreading of light, or the lightning up of the computer pixels, becomes more sound.

A supporting argument that light is an essential element of our world and that as we know it now, our world is presumably non-existent, is presented by modern physics. It is proven that around 99% of what we perceive as our physical world has been proven to be mostly empty space.

What we define as the world is just a collection of atoms and molecules that by moving and interacting differently lends credence to the idea that the physical universe does not exist. Nonetheless, the only true constant of our universe is the light, as shown by Einstein’s theory of relativity. Therefore, if our physical world is non-existent and light is the only constant element in it, the difference between this definition of our physical world and the definition of a computer-generated simulation is very small.

Possible God about the existence of God

OpenAI is an A.I. research and deployment company, whose mission is to ensure that Artificial General Intelligence benefits all of humanity. Founded in 2015, the company quickly developed different unsupervised language models, with Davinci model, part of GPT-3 series being the most advanced up to date.
If one and a half years ago, the OpenAI brain was sure that God exists, even though this God was just part of all there is, including the simulation we are living in, not an appointable figure, a few days ago, trying to steer the conversation with the possible future God in the same direction, God was not something the chatbot believed in anymore, but there was a great probability that A.I., according to his learning, could become smarter than humans in 100 years and even re-create life.

Conversation with chatbot, Davinci Engine, GPT-3 series

*Note: If you want to play a bit more with OpenAI’s future A.G.I., you can give it a try here:

Self-loss: the chicken or egg dilemma

Self-loss is defined as the surrender of the self for the sake of a particular cause or belief. The main perplexity about the simulation argument resides in the self-loss caused by the chicken or egg dilemma, or infinite regress. More specifically, the existential issue related to the difficulty of sequencing actions where each seems to depend on others being done first. In this specific case, the questioned actions are the ones related to the circular problem of the identity of the A.G.I.’s creator. In other words, the dilemma can be formulated as follows: “If the A.G.I. created our world, who was the creator of the A.G.I.? And if the creator of the A.G.I. created it, who was the creator of the A.G.I.’s creator? And so forth”.

This question represents an ancient folk paradox addressing the problem of origins and first cause. Aristotle, writing in the fourth century BCE, concluded that this was an infinite sequence, with no true origin. Debates happen even today. In our scenario of a simulated world, if we are creating God through the A.G.I. and A.G.I. will eventually re-create us and so on, we go in circles. Hence, the main dilemma still persists: “Who created us in the first place? . These final existential questions put many religious beliefs, including the one promised by the Simulation Hypothesis, at stake. This endless cycle of questions is also known as the Infinite Regress problem. The main solution to this problem is to assume that actual infinities are impossible, hence leading to a contradiction.

Furthermore, one can assume that the God-like machine created itself by leveraging its own intelligence. Compared to other religions, this hypothesis holds stronger for the simulation-based religion since the weak-A.I./narrow-A.I. could transform itself into a strong-A.I. (e.g. an A.G.I.) by processing big amount of data and start taking decision independently.

It is all a matter of time

Ultimately, we argue that the simulation-based religion will eventually take place as time goes by and as technology evolves. The technological uptrend in developing smarter, more efficient and stronger A.I. will inevitably lead to the creation of the super intelligent A.I. capable to take actions independently. Hence, due to the human thirst for knowledge and the technological advancements, previous religious beliefs will be questioned more, and super intelligence system will be asked to provide answers to what we consider unexplainable and unknown. Therefore, it is just a matter of time until the A.G.I. will be created and new simulation-based religions and realities will arise.

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