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

TJI Pick
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Published: 5 May 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

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

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 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,” he said.

“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 ChatGPT has mastered the human language and can use that skill to  mould 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.”

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

Yuval Noah Harari warns AI can create religious texts, may inspire new cults (Times of Israel)

Could ChatGPT create a new RELIGION? World is on the verge of a contemporary faith started by an AI writing its own sacred texts, historian claims (Daily Mail)

Image: Avi Katz

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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