Mental activities are a fascinating mystery that humans have tried to unveil since the very beginning of philosophy. We all try to understand how other people “tick” and formulate hypotheses, predictions, expectations and, more broadly, representations of the others’ goals, desires and intentions, and behaviors following from those. We “think” spontaneously about others’ and our own mental states. The advent of new technologies – seemingly smart artificial agents – is giving researchers new environments to test mindreading models, pushing the cognitive flexibility of the human social brain from the natural domain to towards the artificial.
This book discusses major issues of the current AI debate from the perspectives of philosophy, theology, and the social sciences: Can AI have a consciousness? Is superintelligence possible and probable? How does AI change individual and social life? Can there be artificial persons? What influence does AI have on religious worldviews? In Western societies, we are surrounded by artificially intelligent systems. Most of these systems are embedded in online platforms. But embodiments of AI, be it by voice or by actual physical embodiment, give artificially intelligent systems another dimension in terms of their impact on how we perceive these systems, how they shape our communication with them and with fellow humans and how we live and work together. AI in any form gives a new twist to the big questions that humanity has concerned herself with for centuries: What is consciousness? How should we treat each other - what is right and what is wrong? How do our creations change the world we are living in? Which challenges do we have to face in the future?