ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 145

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Yuval Noah Harari warns AI can create religious texts, may inspire new cults

Historian and philosopher says technology could attract worshipers ready to kill in the name of religion, urges tighter oversight and regulation of sector

Israeli historian, philosopher and best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari poses for a photo at his office in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, March 30, 2023 (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Israeli historian, philosopher and best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari poses for a photo at his office in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, March 30, 2023 (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli historian, philosopher and best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari has warned that artificial intelligence is now able to compose its own religious texts that would likely attract worshipers.

Harari told the AI Frontiers Forum event in Switzerland that adherents could potentially at one point be instructed by computers to kill other people.

“In the future, we might see the first cults and religions in history whose revered texts were written by a non-human intelligence,” Harari said in quotes carried by the UK Daily Mail newspaper Tuesday.

“Of course, religions throughout history claimed that their holy books were written by unknown human intelligence. This was never true before. This could become true very, very quickly, with far-reaching consequences.”

Harari said that software such as Chat GPPT has mastered the human language and can use that skill to mold culture.

“For thousands of years, prophets and poets and politicians have used language and storytelling in order to manipulate and to control people and to reshape society,” he noted. “Now AI is likely to be able to do it. And once it can… it doesn’t need to send killer robots to shoot us. It can get humans to pull the trigger.”

“Contrary to what some conspiracy theories assume, you don’t really need to implant chips in people’s brains in order to control them or to manipulate them,” he added.

Harari, author of the best-selling book “Sapiens,” joined others in urging that regulations be laid down on AI.

“‘We need to act quickly before AI gets out of our control,” he warned. “Drug companies cannot sell people new medicines without first subjecting these products to rigorous safety checks.'”

“Similarly, governments must immediately ban the release into the public domain of any more revolutionary AI tools before they are made safe.”

Recently an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic sect banned the use of AI. The New York-based Skver sect warned adherents that artificial intelligence is “open to all abominations, heresy and infidelity without limits.”

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