“Artificial intelligence (AI) is technology and a branch of computer science that studies and develops intelligent machines and software” . Think robots, cyborgs, and transhumans.
“The field,” the reference continues, “was founded on the claim that a central ability of humans, intelligence—the sapience of Homo sapiens—can be so precisely described that it can be simulated by a machine.”
The goal: “technological singularity”–“a theoretical moment in time when artificial intelligence will have progressed to the point of a greater-than-human intelligence that will ‘radically change human civilization, and perhaps even human nature itself’ “ ; another kind of Big Bang, silent version, when for the very first time, some dark and possibly stormy night in the Lab of Dreams, Robby the Robot quietly flips his own switch from 0 to 1 and becomes—da-ta-da-daaaa–Cyberman, faster than a speeding nanosecond, more powerful than terabyte squared, able to leap tall quanta in a single computation…
The end product is still mostly the stuff of myth, science fiction, and late night talk radio until scientists can work out the (synthetic) evolution from machine to man.
Of course there is some controversy about the ethics around creating artificial beings. Nevertheless, computer experts are working to perfect various combinations of the thinking abilities possessed by real humans: reasoning, problem solving, planning, learning, language processing, motion and manipulation, creativity and the like. They are working and hoping for the moment when hypothesis gels into humanoid.
WHAT ABOUT WISDOM?
But I wonder—what about another attribute of human beings: wisdom? Wisdom, i.e., “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise” , a.k.a. sagacity, sense, shrewdness, good judgment, prudence, and circumspection. This is another potent force humans possess—or can possess. And it is the driving wind behind the ethical questions around super computers.
I wonder about the wisdom needed to most effectively employ all that AI, to make not only logical but good sense of it. Where does this unique attribute of homo sapiens factor in to all the bits and bytes and inputs and outputs and late nights in that lab with the “Authorized Personnel Only” sign on the door and armed guards on the perimeter? Because the ramifications of a soulless/spiritless/conscienceless “being,” as intelligent as it may be, are not only the stuff of technology think tanks but also the stuff of religious and philosophy texts, protocol and policy manuals, and regulations and laws scribed in every tongue and tribe throughout time because inventions of mass deduction can easily become inventions of mass destruction. Think nuclear power.
The heart of man even with moral and spiritual guidance is dark enough. One shudders to think of the effects of an artificial being “smarter than us” but without any heart at all. Of greater concern than even the “ghost in the machine,” I fear, is the “god in the machine” where the sixty-four-billion-dollar (or whatever it takes to get one of these up and running) question is: what will it ultimately make of itself– super hero or super villain?
Psychiatrists label an individual lacking core attributes of wisdom, notably, circumspection and prudence, a sociopath. What new diagnosis will emerge when a machine morphs, as is theorized, all by itself, to a man–sans soul (or some semblance thereof)? Back to what drawing board, then, when, for the smart bot, the money would be on creating its own drawing board beyond the reach and comprehension of mere mortals?
Nevertheless, interesting stuff!
But on another level, just think: could there be an entirely different way to “radically change human civilization and perhaps even human nature itself”? A “way” that would take into consideration all aspects of human beings, not merely mental prowess but mind, too; not just sentience but also spirit?…
What if there is already a “greater than human intelligence” Who long ago came to life one dark and possibly also stormy night in Bethlehem not a la some science fiction fantasy or technological quantum leap but in the usual human way? One Whose God-like powers far surpass those of the grandest human invention and yet, though “being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-11, NIV).
Consider IXOYE: Jesus Christ, Savior, both Son of Man and Son of God .
And why did Jesus do this? Why trade the sublime for servanthood and die such a terrible death? As one apologist put it: “The reason Jesus had to die for our sins (Ed. He chose to die for our sins, see Philippians 2:8) was so that we could be forgiven and go to be with the Lord. Jesus is God in flesh (John 1:1,14; Col. 2:9) and only God can satisfy the Law requirements of a perfect life and perfect sacrifice that cleanses us of our sins” .
Jesus Christ, Transcendent of transcendents, as it were, Man of men, King of kings submitted to the ignominy of the cross so that you and I might have new life, too. But not merely evolved brain and body “parts,” but a new core being, if you will, a new source of life and inspiration and motivation altogether. So that, in fact, in the spiritual reality, we could be born again (see John 3:1-7).
Jesus died so that in the midst of the laboratories of our own experiments and hopes and dreams and failures and successes and longings we, too, can know a Way, Truth, and Life by yielding not to the hoped for “salvation” of AI (with what unintended consequences to be manifest we can’t be sure) but to IXOYE (Who has proved His perfect love for us on the cross by dying for our sins in our stead—an intended consequence).
Jesus is not a super man–or machine—come to life because of the engineering genius or “will of man” (John 1:9), but a Savior Who, because of the love of our Creator, knowing we can’t achieve the perfection we strive for on our own (for who has not sinned?) made The Way for us—faith, the “switch”. And He even gifts us with that!: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God […]” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
And therein is the ultimate, “radical transformation” of civilization and of human nature, of you and of me as one by one we are saved, healed, delivered, and changed by the power of God through His Son, Jesus Christ—changed not by artificial intelligence, but by the Designer of real intelligence graced with knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.
Just ask the one or ones you may have noticed a change in of late and who mention something about Jesus. A broken heart healed, a relationship restored or resolved, a disease or infirmity cured, a mind cleared, a countenance once dark, now light. Joy emerging even from sorrow…
And see how Jesus can transform you, too, not in some theoretical moment, but in real time.
It all starts here.
 http://www.wordexplain.com/Christattributes.html The author of this site provides an excellent outline including graphics of the attributes of Jesus Christ as referenced in the Bible.
 “IXOYE” is an acronym comprised of the first letter of five Greek words: Iesous Xristos Theou Yios Sotare which means Jesus, Christ, Son of, God, Savior.” http://carm.org/questions/other-questions/what-does-ixoye-mean
Images from the public domain
Here are just some fun articles on AI.
- “Our Final Invention” –Will Artificial Intelligence End the Human Epoch? (dailygalaxy.com)
- Artificial Intelligence (eddjosephcastillo.wordpress.com)
- The Unexpected Ways that Artificial Intelligence Might Emerge (io9.com)
- The Future is Here and it Doesn’t Need You: Top Ten Movies About Killer Artificial Intelligence (tor.com)