French Researchers Want HAL To Write Fatwas

from the God-of-the-machine dept

The Arabic Daily Asharq Al-Awsat reports that a team of French researchers are hoping to create an "Electronic Mufti" -- an artificial intelligence capable of processing the opinions of historical clerics and generating a fatwa, or religious edict, that answers novel problems as the human template would have. The goal is supposedly to generate "more accurate" opinions, not subject to... human... error.

This has the whiff of a prank about it, but if it's for real, it seems to raise intriguing theological no less than technological questions. Islam tends to frown on pictorial representations of Allah's handiwork, and in particular -- as the Danish Cartoon Fiasco reminded us -- of the Prophet Muhammad, a likely candidate for simulation. Would a simulacrum of the Prophet's thought processes run afoul of the prohibition on representation? One member of the French team, Dr. Anas Fawzi, assures us that Islamic scholars have declared that his project is not "haram," or unlawful. But something tells me controversy is inevitable. Either way, I find I can't help but think of the confessional CyberJesus from the George Lucas classic THX 1138.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Dave, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 5:22pm

    Hacking the Gibson

    This would be many more lolz

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Herr_Loler, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 7:55pm

    I'm Sorry Ali... I'm afraid I can't allow you to wage a Jihad...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 12:33am

    I will personally hire a team of hackers to make this thing issue a fatwa claiming that Tuesday is "Give away free ice cream to anyone who asks" day.

    But seriously, this is stupid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    mike allen, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 2:21am


    having got rid of hundreds of so called gods over the years perhaps the time has come to get rid of the last one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    J, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 6:00am

    The next step will be to ask it the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    O.C., Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 6:25am

    My first thought was of the Butlerian Jihad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 6:53am


    That's easy. It's 42.

    My question would be what happens when religious groups like the KKK and the Muslim extremists find out that it is wrong to do what they do. Them and all those idiots who think that the bible is homophobic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Matt Bennett, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 7:58am

    The ban on "representation" as you say is actually literally a ban "Graven Images" same as the Christian old testament clearly forbids. (and Catholic idols (saints, Christ on a cross) routinely break this rule, actually) They're just a lot more serious about it......and they also love a chance to scream and yell at westerners, regardless of the reason behind it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    lance, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 8:21am

    Re: life

    but we already know the answer is 42 so is this a quiz?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 9:38am

    perhaps they could just get an electric monk.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Ichsan S, Jan 23rd, 2008 @ 9:36pm

    I think thats kinda cool idea, by the way fatwa is collaborative effort of ulama (people with deep knowledge islam religion, gaining it through school or self studied) to answer a problem/problems that faced by moslem society in modern world in their relationship in their way of life as a moslem (it's my opinion). Fatwa is needed because sometimes moslem society cannot find the solution of the problem in the Al-Quran or Hadist (the collection of Muhammad word and action) by literally. Most common fatwa is about halal (okay) and haram (not okay, forbidden). For example is vodka halal or haram, there no mention about vodka in Al-Quran or Hadist, but in Al-Quran it mention about something that make you drunk is haram, so the ulama (s) make a fatwa saying that vodka is haram. Fatwa is the third source for law, after Al-Quran and Hadist, because there's alot of technological changes in world today, i think fatwa is become more influential in moslem world. And i hope there some effort to make fatwa become more adapt to technology. Artificial intelegence generating fatwa ? How about crowdsourcing generating fatwa that would make alot of buzz in the -- so call web 2.0. So it's different from mimicking the prophet (human who talks to god), it's mimicking the human (i'm very sure not one of them talking to god :D) reasoning in solving a problem. The real problem is this t.html

    The funny thing is, this fatwa machine need a fatwa for it's existence

    sorry for the weird english, i'm from Indonesia (now i'm experienced the result of illegal loging, flood). I'll pass this information to some forum, and try to get the opinion of people here in Indonesia.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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