Al-Ghazali and Artificial Intelligence

What can the 11th-century Islamic polymath, theologian and philosopher al-Ghazali tell us about artificial intelligence and the possibility of conscious machines, long before Alan Turing developed his imitation game, also known as the Turing test?

It is impossible, moreover, to create knowledge in inanimate matter. For we understand by the inanimate that which apprehends. If apprehension is created in it, then to call it inanimate in the sense we have understood becomes impossible. And if it does not apprehend, then to call what has been created “knowledge” when its recepticle does not apprehend anything is [also] impossible.


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*Al-Ghazali, 17th Discussion: On causality and miracles, in his Tahafut al-falasifa, translated by Marmura (2000)

Image credit: Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

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