This is so bizarrely surreal to me in ways that are easy and yet also difficult to describe. In my mind, despite being a relatively contemporary part of my upbringing, the Catholic Church nevertheless remains something of a medieval institution. It's an institution of rusty-colored towns, nuns and abbots, and Renaissance-era geopolitical intrigue.The title of the conference is “Extraterrestrials, AI, and Minds Beyond the Human." The conference talks will focus primarily on various kinds of real or hypothetical intelligences that are not human or biologically related to humans, especially extraterrestrial intelligence and artificial intelligence. What does science say about the prospects of extraterrestrial intelligence existing? Would such beings be likely to be similar to us and have similar minds? What would be the implications for Catholic theology? Is artificial intelligence possible? Would it truly have "intellect"? What would be its theological implications? These and other questions will be discussed by members of the SCS and other eminent scholars from a variety of disciplines. There will also be talks on other topics.
Four of the invited speakers will be discussing the possibility of extraterrestrial life from the standpoint of astrophysics (Jonathan Lunine, Cornell), astrochemistry (Karin Öberg, Harvard), evolutionary biology (Simon Conway Morris, Cambridge), and Catholic theology (Christopher Baglow, Notre Dame). The St. Albert Award Lecture will be given by Lawrence Principe (Johns Hopkins). The Banquet speaker will be Jennifer Wiseman (AAAS). In addition, there will be seven contributed talks on the theme of the conference and other topics, which will be selected from submitted abstracts. There will also be a Poster Sessions, which will have a dozen presentations, some related to the themes of the conference, and some on other topics.
And here they are, discussing artificial intelligence! In fact, discussing it ahead of most world governments.
And this isn't the first time this has happened. The Church has been interested in this field for years.