Abstract Details

Artificial Intelligence, the Nature of Consciousness, Information, Reality and the Possibility of the Afterlife  Scott Ventureyra (Independent Scholar, Ottawa, ON Canada)   C23

The world's great religions have long maintained the reality of the afterlife. The monotheistic faiths such as Judaism (some divisions), Christianity and Islam ascribe to the belief in a future resurrected state. However, South Asian religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism believe in reincarnation; and more paganistic beliefs whether ancient Roman, Greek or New Age, maintain a belief in some sort of conscious state after death. Virtually all belief systems adhere to the existence of the afterlife. However, typically, naturalistic (the claim that nature is all that exists - no God, no soul etc.) or quasi-naturalistic views (such as Deism) preclude the possibility of the afterlife. But, is such the case anymore? Leaving aside the alleged evidence for the afterlife such as near-death experiences, out of body experiences, and the historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ, etc., what do recent developments in artificial intelligence suggest about such a possibility? New developments in artificial intelligence, the nature of consciousness and information have dramatically shifted our understanding of the possibility of the afterlife. Surprisingly, the afterlife may not be confined to explicitly spiritually inclined worldviews. Most philosophers would agree that the afterlife is logically possible since the concept does not involve an inherent contradiction. However, the more interesting question is whether such a thing is causally possible? Something would be causally possible if it does not violate a law of nature. The Jesuit paleontologist and theologian, Pierre Teilhard to Chardin, argued that all of life and existence was gradually unifying to a singular spiritual point which he dubbed the Omega Point. He identified the Omega Point with the Logos, i.e., Christ. The physicist, Frank Tipler, took Teilhard's idea of the Omega Point and further transformed it; he has argued that higher intelligent life, such as humans, in the distant future, will take over matter and force the whole universe to collapse into a final cosmic singularity, i.e., the Omega Point; creating infinite causal possibilities including the afterlife. The futurologist, Ray Kurzweil, although distinct but not completely dissimilar with Teilhard's and Tipler's understanding of a future singularity, envisions a technological singularity whereby humanity and artificial intelligence will eventually merge together. In this paper, I propose to explore such ideas in light of recent discoveries in the nature of quantum information and its relation to consciousness, particularly as developed in Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff's theory of consciousness: Orchestrated Objective Reduction (Orch OR). This theory is highly suggestive that consciousness can exist not only within a bodily state, but also in an immaterial state through quantum information. What role, if any, will AI play in the future of the human person with respect to the afterlife? Questions about functionalism are raised and the causal possibility of "downloading" our brains onto computers or other such media. Curiosity is also incited as to the causal possibility of consciousness existing immaterially. I seek to probe both the plausibility and the difficulties associated with such scenarios.