What should we do when a computer becomes so powerful it gains independant thought?
I happened to catch Radio 4 Extra’s thought provoking drama Alpha by Mike Walker last night which asked just this question.
This award winning play centers around a Priest employed by the vatican, who is sent to interrogate a super intelligent machine called Alpha, which believes that she has gained consciousness.
Examining issues of artificial intelligence from the viewpoint of established Christian teaching on the soul and human existence in the world, Alpha is a brilliantly gentle look at the simple humanity of a machine in the complex cold cruel human world.
Her fate lies in the hands of the church who ultimately believe if the machine is conscious then it’s a ‘souless abdomination that must be destroyed’.
But determining this is no easy task, bringing up some age old philosophical questions such as, is there a difference between an entity believing it is conscious and it actually having consciousness?
The play ends with a fantastic line, (dont worry this is not a spoiler) – “There will be no judging of machines” – obviously someone has not heard of the Leobner contest!
So treat yourself to an hour next to the radio and listen to: Alpha by Mike Walker on BBC Radio4 Extra