'Electronic Mufti' May Issue Machine Fatwas
An Electronic Mufti is currently under development that will use artificial intelligence techniques to issue opinions on contemporary Muslim affairs.
(Programmable humanoid robots by Al-Jazari)
Dr. Anas Fawzi, an Egyptian engineer, is the only Arab in a group of French computer scientists working on the project. He says Scientists who have invented this device [electronic mufti] hail from various different nations. I am honoured to be part of this unprecedented scientific achievement. Through my work and residence in France for many long years, I am proud to be working with an exemplary large team where dozens of specializations abound."
Dr. Fawzi consulted with Islamic scholars before undertaking his role in the project. He says that they assured him that "such a device is not 'haram' [prohibited by Islam]. But there are fears and scepticism regarding misuse and causing any misrepresentation or defamation to the figure of the Prophet. There are also fears in terms of Arab and Islamic public opinion and their acceptance of a machine such as this."
The electronic mufti has support among traditional Muslim clerics. The Egyptian Awqaf [Religious Endowments] Ministry's First Undersecretary for Preaching Affairs, Dr. Shawqi Abdel Latif, has said this with regard to the concept of 'simulating' the figure of the Prophet of Islam to serve the Islamic religion in accordance with special conditions:
"The idea is a noble one if indeed it calls for Muslim unity in matters of religion in light of the satellite [channel] wars that the Muslim endure, in addition to the incapability of the relevant bodies of formulating and setting forth ideas in the interest of Muslims.
However, Dr. Abdel cautions that machines cannot truly simulate the figure of the Prophet regardless of advanced technological capability.
Not all authorities are happy with the device. Dr. Mustafa al Swahili, professor at Al-Azhar University rejects the concept behind this machine.
"I am in complete agreement that Islam is a glorious science and that it invites interpretation – so long as it does not violate the religion. I believe a device such as this will create confusion among the people since no matter how advanced science is; it will still have limitations because simulation is limited and does not yield full answers."
The idea that a machine could issue a fatwa is incredible to me. As far as I know, a fatwa is a ruling on Islamic law issued by a credentialed scholar of that faith. There are many variations; fatawa are not binding for everyone, there are differences based on sects and national groups.
This is not as much of a departure as you might think for Islamic scholars. In the 12th century, the Arab Muslim inventor Al-Jazari created a variety of automatic machines including what amounted to a programmable humanoid robot in 1206. The "robot" was a boat with four automatic musicians; it had a mechanism with a programmable drum with pegs that activated levers to operate percussion instruments. Moving the pegs ("programming" it) would result in different compositions.
Science fiction writers have had their share of fun with the idea of robotic religious authorities. Read about the philosopical robass from Anthony Boucher's 1951 story The Quest for Saint Aquin. Many readers will recall the robot pope from Good News From the Vatican, a 1971 story by Robert Silverberg.
Rabbi Mueller removes his sunglasses... "I can tell you that his Eminency is tall and distinguished, with a fine voice and a gentle smile..."
"But he's mounted on wheels, isn't he?" Kenneth persists.
"On treads," replies the rabbi, giving Kenneth a fiery, devastating look. "Treads, like a tractor has. But I don't think treads are spiritually inferior to feet, or, for that matter, to wheels..."
(Read more about the robot pope)
And don't forget Philip K. Dick's padre booth from his 1969 novel Galactic Pot-Healer. This device was more generalized; it allowed the user to dial any religious preference.
Getting to his feet he crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth; inside he put a dime into the slot and dialed at random. The marker came to rest at Zen.
"Tell me your torments," the Padre said, in an elderly voice marked with compassion. And slowly; it spoke as if there were no rush, no pressures. All was timeless.
(Read more about Dick's padre booth)
Read more about religion and technology:
Via Can a Machine Issue Islamic Fatwas?.
Religion In Space
The question arises: How do Muslims pray in space?
Robot 'Minister' Performs Wedding Ceremony
It is believed that this is the first time that a robot has acted as master of ceremonies for a wedding.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/22/2008)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 8 )
Related News Stories -
China Social Credit System Like State-Run Whuffie
'At least there was no mandatory Whuffie check on the monorail platform...' - Cory Doctorow, 2003.
Sex In Driverless Cars? Updated With Video!
'...admirable for petting.' - David H. Keller, 1935.
Xinhua AI Anchor Puts CGI Face To Automated News
'...a congeries of software agents.' - William Gibson, 1996.
Wirewax Watching You Watch, Adjusting Your Experience
'He adjusted the n, the r and b knobs, and hopefully anticipated a turn for the better...' - Philip K. Dick, 1964.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
BrainEx Restores Some Activity To Severed Pig Head
'... they placed the brain in a special solution, having all the properties of Nursing the brain cells.'
Yes, But Do Astrobees Have Lasers For Lightsaber Training?
'... Ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.'
'Young Razorbacks Before Their Katanas Grow In'
'Twin robotic arms with gleaming three-foot sword blades unfolded from the forward hydraulic assemblies...'
A New Way To Run Into Things
'He made an adjustment, pointed the tube at the wall beside Etzwane, and projected a cone of light.'
'Metallic Wood' Strong Like Titanium, Floats In Water
'A metal... light as cork and stronger than steel...'
Seabreacher, H.G. Winter's 1939 Torpoon
'Ken lay full-length in the padded body compartment, his feet resting on the controlling bars of the directional planes, hands on the torpoon's engine levers.'
Abundant Robotics Autonomous Apple Harvester Robot
'... little machines, that went from plant to plant... cutting off the ripe fruit.'
Charging An Electric Car In 2019 (Video), 1912 (Photo) And 1894 (Fiction)
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'
Japan Uses Explosives On Asteroid
'...a tiny, rocket-powered projectile, drove towards the mysterious bulk. It hit, exploding into a cloud of incandescent vapour.'
Get Your Speeder Flying Motorcycle From Jetpack Aviation
'The flycycles were miracles of compact design.'
FLIR Black Hornet 3 Palm-sized Drone
These drones can provide situational awareness beyond visual line-of-sight capability.
Dockworkers Protest Driverless Trucks
'It resembled conventional human-operated transportation vehicles, but with one exception -- there was no driver's cabin.'
Flying Car Concept By Kash Sirinanda
'Each one consists of a hub with many tiny spokes... On the end is a squat foot, rubber tread on the bottom...'
Unfurl The Future! Huawei Mate X versus Galaxy Fold
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled silently from the top of the unit and immediately grew rigid.'
Amazon Echo And Google Home Should Have Morality Software
'The Dwoskin Morality Rating-Computer could 'spot the slightest tendency to deviation' from the social norm...'
China Building Robot Wives
'Want a life-companion, a pleasant one?'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories