Reflecting the Mind of the
Vatican Since 1850

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Conscious Machines? Reflections on so-called ‘Artificial Intelligence’
What makes us human? To this question many people – including such famous figures as Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari and OpenAI founder Sam Altman – answer, “humor,” “imagination,” “emotions.” We argue that these answers are philosophically and theologically naive and ultimately inadequate. Rather, the defining characteristic of the human condition is to be found in consciousness, which is also commonly regarded as the “holy grail” of artificial intelligence (AI) research.

In this article we would like to show that so-called “generative artificial intelligence” cannot, in principle, be as intelligent as we are, that machines will never be “self-aware.” Of course, these claims require a more nuanced explanation, to avoid accusations of anti-scientific thinking and clerical arrogance, two traps into which theologians have occasionally fallen since the beginning of the modern era.
© Union of Catholic Asian News 2024
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