There was a story many years ago about an artificial intelligence that was created to aid researchers by absorbing knowledge in many fields. It would digest the information for a researcher and see if anything it found in other areas would be useful to the researcher. The prototype A.I. was visited by a priest in order to determine if it had a soul (if not, it could be turned off and duplicated, so it could be marketed to the world). I thought the title of the story was "Ariel" (the name of the A.I.?), but have been unable to locate it though the web. I also thought it was in Omni magazine (or one of the collections from it) but it does not show up in any index I can locate.

Anyone know the story, the title and the author (and where it could be found)?

  • What kind of story? Novel, graphic novel, TV series, audio play... Also, how many years is many years? – Mr Lister Jul 8 '13 at 19:32
  • Short story, perhaps from the 1980s. – David Motto Jul 13 '13 at 3:07
  • There is a novel named Ariel about A.I., but there's no priest. goodreads.com/book/show/2043285.Ariel – FuzzyBoots Sep 16 '15 at 22:41
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    In Charles Beaumont's story "Last Rites" a priest is asked to decide whether a robot has a soul, but it does not fit your description otherwise, so I don't think it can be the one you're looking for. You can read it here. – user14111 Jul 23 '16 at 7:15

It might be Vitalics by Miracle Jones? It's about a priest visiting an AI to determine whether it has a soul.

  • And was the upshot that he was trying to determine if it could be duplicated? – Valorum Sep 16 '15 at 21:44
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    As best I can tell, the story is more about whether the AI has enough of a soul to be baptized. Pushkin, the AI in question, was in the field of advertising, mining all public information to determine how to convince people to buy a product. It was roundly considered a failure because, while the movies it made were effective, no one knew why. – FuzzyBoots Sep 17 '15 at 0:11
  • Based on David's comment on the other answer that it's a "gentle story", I have doubts on this one. It's pretty raw. – FuzzyBoots Sep 17 '15 at 0:12

Was it the Greg Iles novel The Footprints of God ?

The story revolves around a supercomputer being built in a secret government lab working on a project called Trinity. When one of the project's scientists dies, David Tennant, the ethical caretaker, discovers that he had been killed for his refusal to accept the ultimate project's aim, a merger of the human mind and the machine, in order to produce an unrivalled super computing machine. Tennant subsequently tries to piece together the truth behind the project while he and his psychiatrist Dr. Rachel Weiss are pursued around the globe.Tennant suffers from a series of regression episodes, which are considered to be seizures by his doctor, who says they are caused by overexposure to a super-MRI scan. During these episodes, he has strangely vivid dreams, in which he witnesses the beginning of the universe (the Big Bang) and the history of mankind. Subsequent dreams seem to be memories of Jesus of Nazareth, something that Tennant, an atheist, finds strange and bewildering. They take a bizarre turn when he sees himself as an NSA assassin sent to kill him, and also as his dead friend, Andrew Fielding, in his last moments.In the end, it seems that someone was in fact showing him these dreams, to tell him something.

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    Welcome to Science Fiction & Fantasy! Could you give a bit of explanation, what events or details from this book match up with the OP's description? – Kevin Jul 8 '13 at 20:16
  • Sorry, what I am looking for is a short story from the 1980s perhaps; I think the Greg Iles novel is from a later period. Based on the above description, there is very little in common between the Iles novel and the story I am looking for - it was a very gentle story about a priest and an A.I. – David Motto Jul 13 '13 at 3:05

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