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Last year the Turing test was passed, where a machine was able to convince people that it was human. There are no problems with computers in Islam as they're just tools, but I'm certain that creating a computer that simulates intelligence would be frowned upon.

Has there been any ruling on the subject or are there any materials that discuss the issue?

This is simply something I'm curious about as I'm sure it will become an issue in future. I'm sure those working on artificial intelligence will be asking the same question.

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    Why are you certain it would be frowned upon? – Daniel Jan 7 '15 at 21:26
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    Like Daniel why are you certain it would be frowned upon? On the contrary islam empowers humans to think and create such, think about algorithms what's its origins? – Abu Nooh Jan 7 '15 at 23:43
  • It's prohibited to create an image of something alive, as it mimics the creation of life. I assumed that the same reasoning would apply to AI- that you are attempting to create life. – PointlessSpike Jan 8 '15 at 8:40
  • I cannot find any specific condemnation of artificial intelligence, and by the logic you are using mathematics is haram. (Mathematics is a numeral representation of this world, i.e. mimicking creation, etc.) I believe you are stretching things into areas they do not fall into. As far as things are in Islam, it is in the matter of halal until proven otherwise. – Opcode Jan 9 '15 at 6:09
  • @Opcode if you could expand on that and put it in an answer, I'll accept it. I'll be interested to see how this issue is addressed in future. – PointlessSpike Jan 9 '15 at 9:02
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Before research...

I'm certain that creating a computer that simulates intelligence would be frowned upon.

From what do you draw this thought? It is an assumption to which as far as Islamic text goes is baseless (perhaps you can provide you reasoning/source so I can expand on it?)

My reasoning to this will start by paraphrasing something from Uṣūl al-fiqh by Imam al-Shafi'i (I credit it to him, but I am not 100% sure, I try to cite the proper source later.) which is, "all actions, which are not matters of ibadah (matters of worship) are halal until proven haram.

So if we apply the proper logic, the default Islamic ruling is it would be halal, unless it ties with a matter of shari'ah, which may put conditions on it. (As far as I searched there was lack of any specific condemnation of artificial intelligence, or anything that seemed to tie with it.)


The lust of research...

So I have been researching this topic for awhile now, and came across possible leads to certain things, I address them below.

Ibn 'Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying, "Every painter will go to Hell, and for every portrait he has made, there will be appointed one who will chastise him in the Hell." Ibn 'Abbas said: If you have to do it, draw pictures of trees and other inanimate things. - http://sunnah.com/riyadussaliheen/18/170

To this hadith comes a complex story, some scholars do not except it as some of my research finds out, however the majority apply it with context to a limited area, in which that representation of a person that was giving a soul by Allah (swt) is haram, however a drawing of a being without a reference to real human being is fine.

So I decided to ask the Imam at my local mosque, this is his view:

It is prohibited to draw a picture of a specific person that once lived, however drawing of imagination is okay.

I asked him for his logic to this conclusion and he shared with me this hadith:

It was narrated that 'Aishah, the wife of the Prophet [SAW], said: "We had a curtain on which there were images of birds, at the entrance to the house. The Messenger of Allah [SAW] said: 'O 'Aishah, remove it, for ever time I come in and see it, I remember this world.'" She said: "We had a plush wrap, with a border on it, that we would wear, and it was not cut off." - http://sunnah.com/nasai/48/314

He expands saying from the preceding ahadith from the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) shows that he did not disapprove of having a curtain with a picture of a bird, making it permissible. Applying this logic works with the Turing test and robots that pass it. So designing a robot like ASIMO is halal.


A little more interesting research...

Mimicking creation, as by your statement, "a computer that simulates intelligence" if this your belief you think why it is frowned upon, it comes down to niyyah also known as intention. If the niyyah is aspiring to create like Allah (swt) creates, than by means yes it is haram. However the Turing test is a test to measure whether the artificial intelligence can fool some humans into thinking it is human as well, this is not intention to mimic Allah (swt) creation. The reality comes to the application of artificial intelligence, not artificial intelligence itself.

So tl;dr:

Artificial intelligence, halal, but with a few restrictions upon application.*

*I am not a scholar, however this is the best I could come up with some research.

  • Excellent answer, lots of lovely research. I like your conclusion as well; it makes a lot of sense and I hope I get to see whether this is put into practice. – PointlessSpike Jan 19 '15 at 10:56
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Turing test is a test of a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behavior similar to a human. That machine is not a human.

ASIMO

This machine (shown above) is known as ASIMO. It is a robot which can walk, talk, climb up and down stairs, hold and bring food in trays. It has a head, two arms, two legs, four fingers and a thumb on each hand and a torso. If it wears clothes and you see it from a little distance, you cannot distinguish if it's a human or not.

Yet, it is not a human. It can do and does a lot more than that machine which passed Turing test. What we see in movies and fiction that robots take over humans, will never happen.

Islam does not condemn scientific research. Islam encourages it. Because of that, we have much better quality of life than people of even a century ago.

At present time, there many instruments which simulates intelligence. They are to facilitate humans. They are not haram.

  • I think you'll have to forgive me if I don't take your word on this- I was looking for other materials that discussed the issue or rulings on the matter in Sharia courts. – PointlessSpike Jan 10 '15 at 19:39
  • @PointlessSpike Can you please explain and update your question with exactly what you are looking for? My answer addresses all concerns presented in your question, and it matched and enhances with what Opcode mentioned in his comments, which by the way you liked. – Farhan Jan 12 '15 at 17:58
  • "I cannot find any specific condemnation of artificial intelligence". Aside from a general impression that Islam encourages scientific research, you haven't commented on whether there is anything out there that indicates one way or another on the subject. It's fine if there's nothing, but a comment to say that you've looked and there's nothing out there that rules one way or another would be perfect. – PointlessSpike Jan 13 '15 at 10:05
  • It is moving statue. – Ari Nov 26 '18 at 11:02
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In my opinion, creating a machine that tries to behave like a human is haram. As it's like trying to create or replace a human that is created by Allah our Creator of all existing things. I'm a Muslim and had education in electronics and computer science. What I've seen already is an artificial cat or a seal or something, made by a Japanese company to accompany elderly people. This is just a beginning and the development continues.

Allah already forbade people to worship statues in the time of prophet Abraham (as) and earlier. Now these statues become "alive" using electronics and artificial intelligence. But what if those "humanoids" are so intelligence and powerful that we people have to abide their rules to stay alive? It's a scary thing and we must be aware of this development.

In my opinion a kafir is a kind of artificial robot too, but in an organic form. Instead of wires and electronic chips, it has blood and brains. And like a kafir, it has no forgiveness, patient, caring and other properties of a Muslim. So I consider a kafir as an artificial intelligent robot. If you see what an Israeli soldier do to a Palestinian child, you can't call such a soldier a human (meaning with properties of a Muslim, like feeling sorry for being rude and so on).

So, creating a human like robot with advanced sophisticated artificial intelligence is in my opinion preparing to create a Dajjal.

wa Allahu a3lam.

  • I'll forgive you for thinking me incapable of forgiveness because clearly you don't have much experience interacting with kufr. You've made some interesting points, and I suspect many will agree. – PointlessSpike May 13 '16 at 11:11
  • @PointlessSpike I don't know you, so I don't judge you or have a thought about you and finally it's up to Allah to judge you and me. So I'm kind of surprised why you feel offended by me. I just give my opinion about this subject, cause it's an interesting question. A kafir is one who doesn't believe in Allah as the only one God with no partners. It's not like an insult or something and I definitely don't insult you. I'm talking in general here and not about you. – AndaluZ May 13 '16 at 12:04
  • @AndaluZ- I was making a joke, actually. I wasn't offended. You're free to have whatever theories you like. As I said, many people will agree with you. – PointlessSpike May 13 '16 at 12:35
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Every thing in life, outside of ritualized ibaadah, is HALAAL unless Allaah and His Messenger Sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam forbid it. Regarding ritualized ibaadah - everything there is HARAAM unless it was ordered by Allaah and His Messenger sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam.

Robotics is a wide arena covering many aspects:

1) Shape and Form 2) Intended Purpose 3) Technology Base 4) Use of living organisms

Shape and Form

What is known to have been clearly prohibited by The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) is to create images or objects that appear "alive" - people and animals in particular and possible imaginary or unseen beings such as angels, jinn, monsters, hybrid animals, imaginary creatures...

If the shape or form of a robot does not come under these - there an be no prohibition.

Intended Purpose

If the intent is to cause the beholder the impression that the object is alive with a living soul - this falls under the same image making prohibition as the wording of the hadeeth states that the creator of that object will be ordered after their death to breathe a soul into it - and that they cannot, but Allaah will make it come alive and punish them in the barzakh.

If the intent of the robot does not include causing the beholder the false impression of it containing a living soul - then there is no prohibition.

An intelligent and capable machine is simply that - a highly capable computer.

Technology Base

Robots are simply computers, electronics, software... nothing haraam in and of itself.

Use of living Organisms

If the robot is an extension of a person - there is no harm in that. If the robot is an extension of an animal - there may be many aspects of oppression of this animal. If the robot uses neurons harvested from animal or human brains - simplt to form neural networks, without pretending to have a soul - then I see no harm in that.

Wallaahu 'aalim Mr. Robin Hossain CEO i-Zone-3 Technologies, Inc.

  • Your post start with the fallacy: "Every thing in life, outside of ritualized ibaadah, is HALAAL" the only ruling which applies says: everything basically is halal, and nothing is haram unless there's a clear text prohibiting it. The rest of your post seems reasonable – Medi1Saif Oct 23 '17 at 7:04

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