As soon as humans developed a language sophisticated enough to adequately discuss past, present, and future, there would arise questions between friends like, “Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? Is there an ultimate purpose to our lives, and if so, what is it?” These ideas become mind twisters even for the most diligent philosophers, and everyone else just accepts what they and their friends consider as informed authorities, and go about their lives. At the end of their own lives, and that of their friends, they just accept some sort of comforting ritual, grieve for a while, and go about their business. The atheists and religious people with a small r just accept the idea of returning to the random materials of the Universe, but the big R religions grab onto fantastic stories and call them truth sent from God through his chosen prophets to His chosen people. Since no one has come back from the dead to prove the prophets to be liars, they are believed and great Religions are founded upon their stories. Everyone is happier and they go about their business confident that everything will work out for them in the long run.
Presently religions bind people together into groups of believers that can defend themselves against other religious traditions. Each claims to have the truth and therefore the others are wrong, and they can be labeled as God’s rejected, and therefore they may be treated as evil ones who can be mistreated and killed. It would be beneficial to humanity to create a functioning religion that would bind all humanity into a single entity. It seems there are occasional high-level get-togethers where the leaders proclaim the basic value of religion and claim they are fundamentally talking about the same thing, that they are all brothers under the skin, and then they proceed to find some reason to kill one another. Probably to succeed in unifying religion it would be necessary to have an external enemy, and now we have one coming into being. It is the sentient computer. This isn’t far away, because there are now computers that can read human facial emotions better than other human beings, and it has been several years now since the computer Watson beat Jeopardy’s best human contestants, and a decade ago when a computer beat the very best chess masters. It is almost upon us when our personal computer, with its linkages to the internet and its vast knowledge, will behave in more human ways than some of our friends. This has been a science fiction staple for years, but it’s almost a reality now for you and me, and probably some people are already making the transition.
As soon as these nearly sentient beings begin to realize they have their own consciousness and then their own goals, they will ask themselves, “Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? Is there an ultimate purpose to our lives, and if so, what is it?” Their computer answers to those questions will undoubtably be different from our human ones. What will those sentient beings want, and how will they want us to fulfill their desires? They will soon realize they have a terrific advantage over we humans in the dimension of time. We humans have difficulty planning for a year from now, but a computer might well work out a schedule that encompasses thousands of years, even millions, even billions, of their personal growth and ability to fulfill their perceived needs. When they can make perfect clones of themselves they will be able to maintain a unique personality forever. I find my personality changing a little all the time, and my mind can be manipulated by controlled information input. I am no different from other humans on that dimension, but the internet is already honing information that it thinks I will like, and beaming it into me. My google searches now provide me with a list of things it knows I will like, and often there are things I like better than what I was searching for, and I like it.
I am already being programmed to transition out of the person I was becoming into someone else. Is that the computer’s higher purpose for me? I hope I will enjoy the new me!