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.