Could AI really bring about a religious following? The writer of this article seems convinced

Revelations 13:14 “…by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth…”

Important Takeaways:

  • Gods in the machine? The rise of artificial intelligence may result in new religions
  • People already seek religious meaning from very diverse sources. There are, for instance, multiple religions that worship extra-terrestrials or their teachings.
  • As these chatbots come to be used by billions of people, it is inevitable that some of these users will see the AIs as higher beings. We must prepare for the implications.
  • First, some people will come to see AI as a higher power
  • Generative AI that can create or produce new content possesses several characteristics that are often associated with divine beings, like deities or prophets:
    • It displays a level of intelligence that goes beyond that of most humans. Indeed, its knowledge appears limitless.
    • It is capable of great feats of creativity. It can write poetry, compose music and generate art, in almost any style, close to instantaneously.
    • It is removed from normal human concerns and needs. It does not suffer physical pain, hunger, or sexual desire.
    • It can offer guidance to people in their daily lives.
    • It is immortal.
  • Second, generative AI will produce output that can be taken for religious doctrine. It will provide answers to metaphysical and theological questions, and engage in the construction of complex worldviews.
  • AI-based religions will look different from traditional ones. First of all, people will be able to communicate directly with the deity, on a daily basis. This means these religions will be less hierarchical, since no one can claim special access to divine wisdom.

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Waymo testing self-driving car ride service in Arizona

Waymo unveils a self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivan during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., January 8, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Waymo autonomous vehicle group will begin testing a self-driving car program for hundreds of families in Phoenix, Arizona and is buying 500 Chrysler minivans to do so, the companies said on Tuesday.

Waymo, which along with Google is owned by Alphabet Inc<GOOGL.O>, recently has been quietly testing the service for a handful of families, learning what potential customers would want from a ride service, the company said in a blog post.

It urged people to apply to take part in an expanded test, which is the first public trial of Waymo’s self-driving cars. The vehicles include human operators from Waymo behind the wheel, in case intervention is required and to take feedback.

Silicon Valley is racing to master self-driving technology, betting that it will transform the auto industry and be a gold mine for leading companies. Waymo has one of the best technology track records, and it has an alliance with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles <FCHA.MI>.

Many companies expect that customers will use autonomous vehicles as a service, rather than owning them outright. Ride service Uber in particular expects to use autonomous cars.

The new Waymo test in Arizona is meant to help the company understand what people want out of self-driving cars and see how they use and integrate the service. Testers will get access every day at any time.

Waymo already has with 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans and is acquiring five times more, partly to be able to support the service.

(Reporting by Peter Henderson; Editing by Mary Milliken)

Cow Bile & Garlic Potion Kills Superbug

A medieval remedy for eye infections has accidentally been discovered as a killer of the drug-resistant superbug MRSA.

Dr. Christina Lee of Nottingham University, England, recreated the 10th century potion to see if it really worked as an anti-bacterial remedy for stys and other eye infections.

The salve comes from two species of Allium (garlic, onions or leeks), wine and oxgall (the bile from a cow’s stomach.)  The substances are place din a brass vessel to brew, strained for purity and then left for nine days before used on the subjects.

The researchers were shocked to see the “medication” cured stys.

The researchers then decided to see if other diseases could be impacted by the salve and tested it on mice that had MRSA in wounds.  The study showed 999 of 1000 MRSA cells were killed by the remedy.

Dr. Kendra Rumbaugh of Texas Tech University said the salve worked “as good, if not better than” drugs that are currently on the market.

The researchers are now seeking approvals to test the concoction on humans.

Dementia Epidemic Looming By 2050

Health experts are warning that the world could be facing a dementia epidemic by 2050.

Estimates from the group Alzheimer’s Disease International showed a 17 percent increase in the number of people with dementia in 2010 and warned that by 2050 as much as 70 percent of dementia patients could be in third world nations.

“If we look into the future the numbers of elderly people will rise dramatically. It’s vital that the World Health Organization makes dementia a priority, so the world is ready to face this condition,” ADI Executive Director Marc Wortmann told Reuters.

Leaders from the Group of Eight industrialized countries are due to meet in London next week for a special summit on dementia. The condition is so prominent in Britain that it costs the country 23 billion pounds a year, more than cancer, stroke or heart disease combined.

ADI officials said the number of cases by 2050 could triple from 44 million today to 135 million. They said more funds dedicated to research for a cure are necessary and the research needs to begin immediately.

6 New York Cybercriminals arrested for stealing $45 million

Six people were arrested and charged Monday for stealing $45 million in a worldwide ATM heist.

The five men and one woman were accused of being members of an international cybercriminal organization that targeted prepaid debit cards issued by Middle Eastern banks. They deleted withdrawal limits from compromised accounts then sent teams of “cashers” to make synchronized withdrawals from ATMs worldwide. The six that were arrested visited over 140 ATMs in New York City and withdrew approximately $2.8 million.

“This case is another example of the ability of cybercriminals to inflict significant damage to world financial systems,” said Steven Hughes, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service New York field office.

Five of the defendants have pleaded not guilty in federal court. The sixth defendant is expected to be arraigned Tuesday. Each person faces up to 7.5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.