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Bender Column Missed Point of 6.915

In reference to the column by J. Ryan Bender, "Taking on God in Course VI" [Sept. 9], I recommend that anyone concerned about my course, 6.915, God and Computers, see the syllabus at http://www.ai.mit.edu/ people/annef/syllabus.html.

The purpose of the course is to help artificial intelligence pursue its goal by making researchers aware of their unscientific biases. I personally think that religion is a worthwhile attempt to approach the world! I am just as convinced that religion has nothing to offer AI; since it does not deal with mechanistic explanations of humankind, it cannot offer any insights for the construction of intelligent machines. I am absolutely convinced that any religion - and it doesn't matter if it calls itself "Scientism," "Objectivism," "Lutheranism," "Judaism," "Buddhism," etc. - should be rejected as soon as it displays its theories in a fundamentalistic, dogmatic and absolutistic manner. I am finally convinced that the more clearly scientists recognize and try to eliminate the religious elements within their own research, the better their research will become; in this sense course 6.915 will support AI in reaching its goal to finally create a fully intelligent machine.

Finally, I would like to draw readers' attention to an associated public lecture series on "God and Computers," where a variety of atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Christians and Jews will discuss the relationship between religion and cognitive science or computer science. Here, people will have the opportunity to discuss questions like the ones raised in Bender's column.

Anne Foerst

Postdoctoral Fellow