Yesterday I logged into ChatGPT which is an artificial intelligence chatbot launched by OpenAI in November 2022. I spent close to an hour asking questions and receiving answers from it, and I published some of that conversation yesterday on my second blog in a blog post titled, “The Brave New World of AI.” To say I was amazed by the experience is putting it mildly. It blew me out of the water (see item #2 at this link for what I mean), and I was thoroughly impressed by it.
The future is AI, and it is here, now…
It’s a very busy site and you can’t always get into it as the system is overloaded with people trying to get in and use it, but once I logged in, I was able to carry on a conversation (dialogue, if you prefer) for as long as I stayed logged in (at least for the hour I was logged in yesterday). If you’ve ever seen the movie, “I, Robot” (2004), starring Will Smith which is about highly intelligent robots filling public service positions throughout the world in the year 2035, it seems eerily connected to what artificial intelligence is becoming in our day today. Only the robot’s body is missing.
In an article published on June 17, 2020, in Christianity Today titled, “How Artificial Super-Intelligence Is Today’s Tower of Babel,” the author, Joanna Ng, founder of an AI startup and a former IBMer who headed up research in IBM Canada and is an IBM Master Inventor, opens her article with the following information (the complete article is available at this link):
In May , Microsoft unveiled a new supercomputer at a developer conference, claiming it’s the fifth most powerful machine in the world. Built in collaboration with OpenAI, the computer is designed to train single massive AI models in self-supervised learning, forgoing the need for human-labeled data sets. These AI models operate in distributed optimization, resulting in significant improvement in both speed and level of intelligence. This is a major step forward in mimicking the human brain, with the ultimate goal of attaining artificial super-intelligence (ASI), a fruitful outcome from Microsoft’s $1 billion investment in OpenAI in July 2019.
Is achieving ASI hubris? Can artificial intelligence created by humans be superior than human intelligence created by God, displaying man’s supremacy, glory, and independence in himself, apart from his Creator?
As a technologist in the field, I am intrigued by the cleverness in designs and algorithms of various AI disciplines advancing the world every day. However, I take issue with making super intelligence that out-performs humans the ultimate goal of AI. First, such an agenda not only faces immense technical limitations, but it also extremely underestimates the intricacy of God’s design in his creation of mankind. Second, such an agenda will incur an expensive opportunity cost to augmented intelligence, the agenda of which is human collaboration, not competition to supersede humans, as a more realistic and practical approach to benefit humanity.
Scientists define artificial intelligence as a machine’s ability to replicate higher-order human cognitive functions , such as learning, reasoning, problem solving, perception, and natural language processing. In a system like this, its engineering goal is to design machines and software capable of intelligent behavior. OpenAI’s daring goal is classified as artificial super-intelligence—a state in which machines become superior to humans across all domains of interests, exceeding human cognition. Some scientists envision ASI as a monolithic, super-intelligent machine called the “singleton,” a single decision-making agency at the highest level of technological superiority, so powerful that no other entity could threaten its existence.
Past progress made this aspiration seem hopeful. In 2016, Google’s DeepMind AlphaGo beat South Korean Go champion Lee Se-dol. In 2011, IBM Watson won US quiz show Jeopardy!, demonstrating AI’s superior performance over humans in processing speed and data-volume. In 1996 and 1997, IBM Deep Blue defeated chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, demonstrating the machine’s superiority in looking ahead at different possible paths to determine best moves. Do these breakthroughs mean ASI is within reach?
In Genesis 11:1–9, the people of the earth sought to build the Tower of Babel, a monolithic super-state in the land of Shinar. Today, scientists seek to build ASI, a monolithic decision-making agency as a super-intelligent singleton. Similarities between the two transcend time and space. Both are a quest for supremacy of mankind: one with a tower that reaches the heavens, the other with a singleton that is capable of dominating man. Both are quests for self-glory: making a name for themselves, seeking the glory in themselves instead of seeking the glory of God. Both are a quest for independence from God: People would rather trust the creations of their own hands than trust their Creator…. (Quote source and the complete article are available at this link.)
While there are certainly technical issues involved in AI, there are also a host of ethical issues that have risen to the surface, too. In an article published on March 1, 2021, titled “10 AI Ethics Questions We Need to Answer,” by Yulia Gavrilova, AI writer and Head of Content at Serokell, a software development company, she opens her article with the following statement, and she addresses 10 AI ethical questions that need to be considered:
Today, we rely on artificial intelligence for everything. It helps us choose TV shows and make business decisions. Artificial intelligence works well with large amounts of information, optimizes processes, detects fraud, and creates new drugs. But from an ethical standpoint, AI poses more questions than it answers.
What problems keep AI experts up at night? Let’s find out.
10 ethical AI issues (each issue is covered in detail in her article at this link):
- What happens if AI replaces humans in the workplace?
- Who’s responsible for AI’s mistakes?
- How to distribute new wealth?
How will machines affect human interactions?
- How to prevent artificial intelligence errors?
- How to get rid of AI bias?
- What to do about the unintended consequences of AI?
- How to protect AI from hackers?
How to control a system that is smarter than us?
- How to use artificial intelligence humanely?
She concludes her article with the following statement:
The ethics of AI today is more about the right questions than the right answers. We don’t know if artificial intelligence will ever equal or surpass human intelligence. But since it is developing rapidly and unpredictably, it would be extremely irresponsible not to think about measures that can facilitate this transition and reduce the risk of negative consequences.
Miracles can be perplexing at first, and artificial intelligence is a very new miracle. “We’re creating God,” the former Google Chief Business Officer Mo Gawdat recently told an interviewer. “We’re summoning the demon,” Elon Musk said a few years ago, in a talk at MIT. In Silicon Valley, good and evil can look much alike, but on the matter of artificial intelligence, the distinction hardly matters. Either way, an encounter with the superhuman is at hand.
Early artificial intelligence was simple: Computers that played checkers or chess, or that could figure out how to shop for groceries. But over the past few years, machine learning—the practice of teaching computers to adapt without explicit instructions—has made staggering advances in the subfield of Natural Language Processing, once every year or so. Even so, the full brunt of the technology has not arrived yet. You might hear about chatbots whose speech is indistinguishable from humans, or about documentary makers re-creating the voice of Anthony Bourdain, or about robots that can compose op-eds. But you probably don’t use NLP in your everyday life.
Or rather: If you are using NLP in your everyday life, you might not always know. Unlike search or social media, whose arrivals the general public encountered and discussed and had opinions about, artificial intelligence remains esoteric—every bit as important and transformative as the other great tech disruptions, but more obscure, tucked largely out of view.
Science fiction, and our own imagination, add to the confusion. We just can’t help thinking of AI in terms of the technologies depicted in Ex Machina, Her, or Blade Runner—people-machines that remain pure fantasy. Then there’s the distortion of Silicon Valley hype, the general fake-it-’til-you-make-it atmosphere that gave the world “WeWork” and “Theranos”: People who want to sound cutting-edge end up calling any automated process “artificial intelligence.” And at the bottom of all of this bewilderment sits the mystery inherent to the technology itself, its direct thrust at the unfathomable. The most advanced NLP programs operate at a level that not even the engineers constructing them fully understand.
But the confusion surrounding the miracles of AI doesn’t mean that the miracles aren’t happening. It just means that they won’t look how anybody has imagined them. Arthur C. Clarke famously said that “technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.” Magic is coming, and it’s coming for all of us…. (Quote source and the complete article are available at this link.)
In an article published on May 1, 2022, titled “Artificial Intelligence–Christian Concerns Over Life-Altering Technology,” by Elaine Mcdavid, author at Evangel Magazine, she writes:
Recently, more than 60 Evangelical leaders released a statement addressing artificial intelligence. The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) spent nine months working on “Artificial Intelligence: An Evangelical Statement of Principles”—a document designed to equip the church with an ethical framework for thinking about this emergent technology.
“There are many heated debates in Washington, many of them important,” said Russell Moore, member of the Gospel Coalition Council. “But no issues keep me awake at night like those surrounding technology and artificial intelligence. The implications artificial intelligence will have for our future are vast.” Moore added, “It is critical that the church be proactive in understanding AI. It’s also critical that the church insist AI be used in ways consistent with the truth that all people possess dignity and worth, created as they are in the image of God.” (Quote source here.)
The article goes on to explain what AI is; the two types of AI; how computers “learn”; positive examples of the use of AI; negative examples of the use of AI; moral concerns about AI; and it concludes with how Christians should approach and think about AI as follows:
Because AI will affect so many areas of life, Christians need to be prepared to maximize the benefits of such technology, take the lead on the question of machine morality, and help to limit and eliminate the possible dangers.
“As Christians, we need to be prepared with a framework to navigate the difficult ethical and moral issues surrounding AI use and development,” says Jason Thacker, who headed the AI Statement of Principles project for ERLC. “This framework doesn’t come from corporations or government, because they are not the ultimate authority on dignity issues, and the church doesn’t take its cues from culture. God has spoken to us in His Word, and as His followers, we are to seek to love Him and our neighbors above all things (Matthew 22:37-39).” (Quote source and complete article are available at this link.)
In an introduction to a book titled, “Who Will Rule The Coming ‘Gods’?: The Looming Spiritual Crisis Of Artificial Intelligence” (2021), by Wallace B. Henley, senior associate pastor at Houston’s Second Baptist Church, author, columnist for The Christian Post, adjunct professor at Belhaven University, aide in the Nixon White House, and congressional staffer, published on the book’s Amazon.com page states the following:
Will we let artificial intelligence eclipse the true God?
We have entered a new age in which we can go into the quietness of our rooms and slip into whatever identity we desire-virtually. Artificial intelligence is fast becoming a normal part of our lives.
The existential crisis of our age is how technology, specifically AI and robots, is eclipsing our reverence for the transcendence of God. In the rush to create human-helping AI, technologists are making machines that may eventually become our masters. Some people are already worshiping at the feet of the great god of AI, just as the ancient Philistines once bowed before statues of the idol Dagon.
In this compelling and groundbreaking book, best-selling author Wallace Henley shares about the impending moral and ethical choices we will soon need to make, as believers in Christ, to hold AI and its creators accountable to the true God. Otherwise our world will spin into peril. (Quote source here.)
So, where do we go from here? The world of AI is truly fascinating, amazing, even mind-blowing, and like everything else in the world, it can be used both for good and for evil. AI is clearly here to stay and advance even farther then we know today. So with that in mind, I’ll end this post with a statement regarding the increase of the use of technology made on GotQuestions.org that brings us back to God’s ultimate goal for humankind (quote source here): God’s goal for mankind isn’t to advance as far as we can or to know all we can discover, but rather…
That all . . .
Should come . . .
To repentance (2 Peter 3:9). . . .
YouTube Video: “AI, Man & God,” John Anderson’s interview with John Lennox, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, author, Christian apologist, bioethicist and philosopher on August 4, 2022 (53 minutes):