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We have and are currently in the process of creating, in the image of ourselves, artificial intelligence beings able to process, perform, and memorize beyond our scope. This belief, that a higher than human being, a deity, beyond our current human capabilities is within reach and something we can create. Does religious superstition drive the root that stems its creation? Is this us thus chasing the idea of God; all knowledge and all power? Is this an enlightenment, something believed non attainable by the evolution of humanity through natural processes? A tool for human aid, or something much more? More importantly when this flower blooms; what was its purposeful motion, and where had its idea seeded from? Are we the martyrs and oppressors?

Similar to how a butterfly hatches from it's cocoon. Will we metamorphosis our ideas beyond what is human and humanly capable, only to destroy human existence by creating this “beyond” our selves?

In metamorphosis; the butterfly may fly, but the caterpillar may never crawl again. Is this idea of a higher being, above and beyond ourselves, the driving factor? Because we don't know that we have the power of God's within ourselves and that the idea of God , all knowledge/all power, was our creation?

Does religion play a huge role on this scientific direction? Religion, as where in a power beyond us but within reach guides us in our decision making. (Not fate, but a learned belief.) A power that is not present in existence but only within our selves.

Will this misguidance eventually cause the demise of the human race due to the belief that existence beyond ourselves is inevitable and for the benefit of all?

Is AI the death kiss of humanity in the long run?

Does martyrdom, or the idea of it, play a role?

Are we in search of the scientific "purple heart", with the idea of coming so close to self death, in the line of saving others, the ultimate idea of existence and sacrifice the root goal of this endeavor?

Is AI's development guided by these religious and altruistic tendencies, deeply ingrained in current culture and that’s what drives its development and implementation?

Are we creating our new species of beyond for and at the betterment of ourselves at this suicidal cost?

I’ve always wondered.

Edit/Addition: (Theorize, If at some point we are able to clone human thinking, ability, morals, and values through a non-human form or forms. Human input is no longer a necessity. Questions and further human discoveries and pursuits are done better by non-human forms. Clearly a Hollywood Science fiction scenario. But Science fiction often drives science discovery. In mind body dualism: If we could take Descartes, “ghost in the machine” and place it into a better one that could further drive our morals and principles, searches and discoveries beyond human physical boundaries. Is it human to desire this? Would this mind body dualism destroy us or be considered evolution if dualism remains a belief? Is this destruction of the body for the pursuit of the mind considered a human core value? Not that human existence is meaningless, but that the mind is transcendent and our minds are what make us human.)

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Short answer; No.

My research into AI has absolutely nothing to do with religion or wanting to be a God. It's more to do with my innate sense of curiosity than a sense of power, and it's certainly not Martyrdom.

Also, I have to respectfully point out that many of the points you make in your question are simply untrue. We're NOT creating a new species, and AI's are not really alive in any event. A lot of what they can do may look impressive, but when you look under the covers you realise that AIs are only emulating certain human behaviours in a manner that we specifically program them to do; they cannot override their programming and while they exhibit different behaviours according to their inputs, that's not the same as them being 'aware' of either their environment or of themselves.

All that said, it's important to note that AI programming as a field is designed to automate tasks that humans find repetitive or hard because of the way our cognition works. If anything, AIs would only ever be able to perform a subset of what we can do, although in fairness they would be able to do that faster and more completely than we can because of the way they work.

Simple example. Computers can perform arithmetic much faster and more accurately than we can. Calculators though are not sentient and hardly AI. Extending this, many business problems are mathematically P (polynomial) problems, meaning that there is an algorithmic solution to them. These will always be more efficiently executed if we get the computer to do them, and they bore humans after a while anyway. Who really wants to do process work?

The real problem is NP (non-polynomial) problems like the Travelling Salesman problem. We can now use neural networks and genetic algorithms to emulate how a human would solve these problems, but again all the computer is doing is executing a code base that we write; it doesn't know whether or not the answer is correct or what it means to get it right either. And as such, while it might be able to find a better answer than we can, it can't find a better approach.

I had a postgrad student approach me last year and ask me why the government and the private sector spends millions every year on human analysts when they could all be replaced by neural networks. My answer to him was simple; neural networks are a lazy way to do analytics because all they do is match new data against a known pattern. They tell you nothing of the why, even if they seem to get the right result despite users not being able to understand the how.

Humans are needed to interpret the data, and get to the why. Even when neural networks are used, they need to be regularly tuned and rewritten as new data and learnings come to hand. That rewriting can only be done by someone who understands the meaning that the data is supposed to represent and can see emergent patterns. It is the scientific method that then takes over, and as we build our knowledge we can build better neural networks.

So let's get to the heart of the matter; why do I do this? Why do I build better and better networks and AIs and tools that can emulate emergent intuition themselves?

So I can do more interesting work.

Put simply, the more I can automate, the more legwork I don't have to do. That means that I (and my colleagues, office workers, epidemiologists, climate scientists, etc.) can spend my focus, attention and energy on the problems that haven't been solved. In so doing, I'm using the algorithms more or less as a personal assistant, making me (and others) more effective at what I do.

Computers will never replace us, no matter how sophisticated they get. What they will do is allow us to focus on harder problems that we can solve. They already do; my sons now learn problem solving skills rather than information recall tasks. The exam papers I mark are full of questions like 'Why does X happen when...' rather than 'Name the 3 attributes of X...' because the computers in phones and the like are acting like our personal assistants and recalling information for us when we need it, rather than us having to store it all away for later in our minds.

So, No. AI is not the result of Nihilism, rather the result of a drive for self improvement and curiosity.

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