Iranian Authorities Say AI Could Help Issue Fatwas Faster Than Ever Before

Looking Backward Government officials in Iran are looking to modernize — by using artificial intelligence to help clerics issue fatwas, or Islamic law rulings, at unprecedented speed. As the Financial Times reports, state-linked officials in the theocracy’s holy city of Qom are encouraging clerics to experiment with AI in an attempt to appear more progressive as the country marks the one-year anniversary of explosive protests following the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who was killed in police custody for allegedly wearing her headscarf wrong. “Robots can’t replace senior clerics,” said Mohammad Ghotbi, the leader of a state-affiliated tech incubator in Qom, “but they can be a trusted assistant that can help them issue a fatwa in five hours instead of 50 days.” While most Shia clerics spend weeks or months poring over Islamic texts, Ghotbi and his allied ayatollahs suggest that AI could speed up both the research and the public release of fatwas, which traditionally are issued on everything from patriotism to personal hygiene — but have, over the past few decades, often been issued in protest of Western cultural subjects, such as the infamous one against the novelist Salman Rushdie. “The seminary must get involved in using modern, progressive technology and artificial intelligence,” Ayatollah Alireza Arafi, a member of Iran’s powerful Guardian Council and its Assembly of Experts, told the FT in July. “We have to enter into this field to promote Islamic [civilization].” AI Figureheads Indeed, the FT reports that Qom’s leading AI research center, the Noor Computer Centre…Iranian Authorities Say AI Could Help Issue Fatwas Faster Than Ever Before

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