Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
According to an animated TEDEd tutorial by Briana Brownell, Artificial Intelligence (AI) learns, even teaches itself, three ways: “unsupervised” (gathers and analyzes data profiles, determining similarities and patterns); “supervised” (collects certain of the data sets for further analysis and adjustment as prompted by programmers for whatever project they are working on); and, lastly, by “reinforcement” of data sets and analysis whereby AI predicts outcomes.
This is both exciting and creepy.
Exciting for those who work in IT in that “AI Brain” is getting closer, they tell us, to “Human Brain,” i.e., closer to acting like the extraordinarily-designed network of neurons by which people have always been able to gather, analyze, compare, discern patterns, adjust thinking, reinforce it, and predict outcomes on their own as per normal human development.
And it didn’t take until the twenty-first century.
For as long as humans have been on the planet, this kind of mental power began (and continues) as soon as brain and nervous systems gel inside their warm, wet human labs, aka wombs, in the earliest stages of growth.
Creepy, in that IT personnel are not yet even sure how AI is actually, completely, evidently, doing all this.
(And we’re jumping into the deep end anyway?!)
But there you have it.
Robby the Robot apparently has the potential, now, to very soon evolve into Robert the Amazing Human-like Intelligence, able to leap from “thought to thought,” er, data set to data set, faster than the speed of awe.
(As long as humans remember to make sure the router is plugged in, right?)
But, so far, apparently all the programmers and coders (developers, architects, and engineers) can conjure is a collaboration of man and machine that “combines the human as the creative force, and the AI as the pragmatic partner” (source–and a fascinating read).
In other words, what AI will be missing (but it’s a BIG miss) are such elements of human cognition–and creativity–that include all the “non-linear,” non-“left brain,” non-logical, “hunches,” “gut feelings,” “spiritual epiphanies, even (see below),” and all other such forms of sense and sensibility that comprise a lot of what we learn that at times defies not only reason but also prediction.
Yet real, sometimes even life-changing, results emerge.
I mean, have you ever had a hunch not based on any observable, collectable, or predictable “data” to not go into some building, follow some crowd, continue on a certain path, drive down a particular street and found out later on why that was a very good hunch?
Or, to the spiritual component of the discussion: Have you ever “sensed” GOD–even right in the middle of some bad-a** binge of cynicism?
On What Happens in Vegus
Even in the realm of the purely physiological, maybe we don’t know enough, yet, regarding the non-verbal communication connections having to do with all the ways, means, and reasons the Vegus nerve connects to major organs (including the gut) and all the ramifications of that physical connectedness that might have as much of an impact on us if we, well, “listen” or attend to it like we do the parts of the brain that record, analyze, predict, and apply?
After all, the Vegus stems from the brain stem that, for just ONE Very Important Thing, contains the elements that have kept us alive since the planet greened and we found ourselves suddenly outside of the protective walls of the Garden because SOMEbody got a hare-brained (devil-brained?) “notion”.
BUT, here’s the…
…Sixty-four Million Dollar Question
What prompts AI geniuses to continually go back to the (mother)board and keep innovating, however, is the sixty-four thousand dollar question (what with inflation, now probably more like sixty-four million): how can we cobble together a perfect mash-up of man and machine where mechanical whiz bang melds (in both macro and micro models) with human creativity, empathy, and intuition to create Robert the Amazing 2.0 that, well, can create, empathize, and intuit all by itself? You know, make those hunches, get those gut-feelings, and come up with those notions?
Or rather, how can we engineer AI to do this to itself?!
Then Robert will finally have a last name: Singularity. (Here is another fascinating read on that.)
Humans 1.0, on the other hand, are already able to do much more than Mr. S. by use of something still outside of (alongside, underneath, and/or above?) the confines of what constitute flesh and blood bits and bytes and data sets and the brilliance of the tech wizards.
All on our own, once set in motion by our Creator (with a little help from Mom and Dad), we come equipped with everything we need to eventually create, empathize, and intuit, i.e., the skill set that will always separate the grown-ups from the kids not only in the real world but also in the virtual world.
And in the spiritual realm.
We get this from a power source that will never be available to machines: God.
The same Who, somewhere, somehow in the dense pre-dawn of creation designed not only wombs to incubate the very first “bio computers” but also designed every single bit of raw material required for every invention mankind has and will ever come up with using what we mine from, well, His dirt and with what falls from His sky.
I mean, where else?
From whence and from Whom could come the residue and resonance of some sort of Big Bang that, logic compels us to conclude, had to have to come from some greater power source?
I mean, it’s highly doubtful wannabe gods of the likes of, say, Darwin, had big enough labs to tinker in, especially with the considerably less powerful equipment available to such as him/them back then.
But, Aye, the Rub…
But here’s the rub with this (and every other) invention: for all the good and useful things, in this case computers/robots can do for us, theoretically or when some Number Five goes live, you know there are those whose minds are ever tuned into how to use them for their not-so-good goals.
Taking over the world, for example, and everybody in it.
Because if people on their own with just psychological operations (mostly propaganda) can take control of whole populations for a little while, just THINK about the power of, say, over seven billion (according to one estimate) real mental computers internetting in nano-seconds in the IoB (Internet of Brains), as it were, at the speed and clarity of, say, 5 and 6G?
Boggles the mind, eh?
Toggles terror, too.
Truman Goes Global
Gives the term “World Wide Web” a whole new meaning, as with the flip of a switch we could become a globe full of Stepford wives and husbands and grandmas and grandpas and kids and Manchurian Candidates.
The Truman Show would expand to the Human Show.
Only, what with the potential of certain “software” advertised as an im munity-booster, as it were, now able to be inserted, as it is, inside Truman and everyone else who, at least to date, line up willingly, there is no need any longer for old-school surveillance cameras installed all around town with their limited powers.
Such jabs-with-“benefits,” if cobbled together just so, might even be able to change, erase, and/or replace memories of everything from simple objects to, say, culture and values learning.
Freedom (of thought), as the lyrics of an old tune go, could very well become “just another word for nothing left to lose”.
And I mean nothing, baby, because there would no longer be a basis for critical thinking–which requires context and memory–and, most importantly, also sustains the operation of that power of powers man, alone of all creation, possesses: free will.
Because sometimes critical thinking results in saying “NO!”
And globalists can’t HAVE that in their sand box.
BUT ONLY IF
If –and this is the critical “if”–“they” could but takeover, er, “upgrade” the so-called “God location in the brain” (?) (more below).
Of course if you want to take over the world, you’d have to leave out the empathy part of real cognition and all that it encompasses.
And not just because you’re a psychopath, but in order to silence the refuseniks.
Because if non-empaths could just figure out how to take over the part of the brain that trends transcendent, that is, the part of our thinking that is not only limited to gathering and analyzing data sets and making predictions but that can figure out how to make Robert the Amazing emote, intuit, and create–not merely upgrade–like real humans, just imagine what good (or harm, depending upon your inclination and persuasions) could be done on the road to either Godliness or wannabe godhood!
But do you know what I think the dark side really wants to control?
Our free will. (The better to get everyone to say “baaaah“.)
I mean, it’s hard to take over the unwilling among the masses as long as we still have the power to choose and the reasoning ability–and here’s the spiritual kicker–the conscience to go with.
Because without a conscience, we are in the ride with no (moral) seat belts, warning buzzers, and brakes. And that’s not good for anybody.
However, it’s not really motherboard that holds the power to the kind of God-engineered, human brain-like capability they want that powers and sustains whole universes.
It’s Father God.
They just can’t replicate His blueprint, yet, let alone find it.
And they won’t be able to because He chooses only who choose Him for this ride (see John 3:16).
THE GOD LOCATION
Those in-the-tech-know are teased by something someone couldn’t help but dub “the God Location” in the brain” (source). Of course there is more than a bit of controversy surrounding that notion.
But a yen for things spiritual does come with being fully human.
(Side chuckle: I imagine the only yen Robert the Amazing might crave to date–if he could crave, that is–might be for an occasional squirt of Wd-40 for what creaks and squeaks, unobstructed Wi-Fi for that annoying static, and an occasional night out on the dance floor at Boston Dynamics for a little chill time.)
But seriously, as long as the God Location remains elusive, the power of God, the smarts of the Engineer of engineers, remains untouchable and Bob the Bot (and his funding nabobs) can only go so far in replicating the power of humans connected (maybe even quantumly entangled?) with God.
Here is what I mean.
The thing is, wherever and whatever the God Location is, I’m thinking it’s the effects of that location on humans interested in exploring and responding to it that keep the lights on and the power up in the IT building at AIU in the wee hours.
But the reason they won’t ever be able to do anything but try to control, alter, or limit the gray matter wherein they have a hunch it might be embedded–or destroy it altogether (and talk about a self-defeating quest)–is because God’s location, you might say, encompasses all places, dimensions, and times.
And His power is not predicated upon logic gates–or any other kind of Gates–but by faith.
I mean, after the Dawn of Singularity, you might be able to bring the Brave New Robert to church and it will analyze the music; calculate the cost of the light, sound, and plumbing per square foot; and self-Wiki the biographies and doctrinal orientations of the Bible commenters cited by the preacher.
But besides reporting on the definition of “epiphany” from dozens of dictionaries in the world’s 7000-plus languages at once, along with all the synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms, even juiced-up AI will never know an epiphany, spiritual or otherwise.
And the difference between analyzing and experiencing is everything.
(Reminds me of Mark Twain’s observation about the writer’s biggest challenge: finding the right word because, as he noted, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter; ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”)
AI will never be able to imagine, to predict, to go to infinity and beyond–and everywhere else the mind God created for us can muse and meander–because AI does not have the creative, intuitive, or empathic capital that emanates not from electricity but from eternity, from the Power Source of all power sources, and that makes it all work in sync even if moral circuits are shorted by mortal gods questing not after the power of truth but after only their own power.
And, of course, AI being more metal than mental in any iteration, will eventually join its progenitors in the rust bin of obsolescence when its usefulness is surpassed by all the new and improved Robert Singularities to come.
BEYOND REGULAR “KNOWING”
In other words, a machine will never be able to know, all by itself, that pivotal moment in time such as when, for example, God’s Spirit (for who else’s?) hovering near a particular person in some church congregation (or many at once), seems to “highlight” with new revelation a verse cited in the sermon, or the deeper meaning of the chorus of some old hymn–or prompts new avenues of understanding and experience by way of a sudden shaft of sunlight through a stained glass window depicting Christ on the cross–and suddenly the congregant knows beyond regular knowing for lack of a better way to put it, there is something more to all this church stuff than meets the eye, ear, and left brain.
On a comparable level, and for an example of this kind of phenomenon, think of how one entire series of children’s books, films, and television series’ were based, in part, on a picture of a red-headed girl found in a magazine by the stories’ author (Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables).
Or it could be anywhere else amid God’s amazing creations (or man’s, for that matter) that one could come upon this unique kind of sudden knowing.
And by deciding to put faith, however faint at first, in God sensed there, a new awareness sparks to life, something is born…
Truth, has, at last, simply and profoundly, penetrated the heart, opened the mind, and introduced Holy Spirit to human spirit, and BOOM. But no worries, it’s usually the silent kind of boom.
(Progress to be made there, too, as per ordinary spiritual development.)
THE NEVER-ENDING (SPIRITUAL) STORY
And that’s when it all begins, that is to say, when the Holy Spirit, acknowledged then invited in, begins to slowly but surely change the believer into the image of Jesus Christ.
(Talk about your spiritual quantum leap.)
That we might, again “know” God on a personal level, as they did in the Garden before The Fall, our entrance to this new life having been paid in full by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, our new spiritual BFF, so to speak, now leading, inspiring, prompting, warning, correcting, safeguarding, comforting, reminding, and teaching us. As we tune in.
Indeed, because of that day on Golgotha when demons howled in presumed conquest, for a few hours, by this willing action Jesus “raised us up together, and made us sit toget) her in heavenly places” in another mind-blowing, logic-defying, reason-challenging event AI can/could only comprehend by dictionaries and Wiki-histories devised and revised (and despised thus often, these days, excised) by those who only know man’s limited spirit.
But AI (and his designers) can and DO know, by ordinary logic- and analysis-brain, there are those people, by the billions throughout history, who, regardless of the status, or lack thereof, of their mind, means, and/or matter, nevertheless have a certain power that defies even all those seven billion brains working on cobbling together some ever-elusive, man-made, super-robot.
Yet any one of the believers, young old, able or not, brilliant or not, educated or not, will tell you whereby they get that power for overcoming–and conquering–and for epiphanies (for there are many). It is by that faith, an unmerited gift from the Creator offered to all who seek truth and choose Him.
And faith (that comes by hearing, learning, and meditating on the Word of God) is whereby we become strong even when we are seemingly weakest (which is something else such as AI will never be able to analyze or predict).
For it is not only our own limited strength on which we rely.
It is His, in us.
As put in St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians:
I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through Him[a] who strengthens me. (4:12-13)
The going might be tough, sometimes, but it is the same strength by which minds are freed, hearts softened, and spirits kindled, sparked by the same Power that illuminated creation, the same Breath that enabled man–and all else in Creation–to go live.
No toggles, trillion$, or transmitters required.
Back to the back of that church (or up in the front) where God has found a hungry, willing mind and open heart: His Holy Sprit proceeds to gently woo the newly-epiphanied one closer, perhaps even, that very day, to the foot of some replica of the cross of his or her redemption, whether etched on colored glass or maybe crafted in statue form and hanging above the altar where it’s been for years, but now the marbled blood trailing from the statue’s head, hands, side, and feet somehow seems real, the sacrifice personal, in a sense of knowing AI Brain will never know.
Know what I mean?
Robert Singularity, even with all “his” man-engineered power, will never be able to understand the vital difference between spiritual sense and machine sentience because the Holy Spirit is only interested in one of us–and it’s not him.
Even if another kind of spirit is involved, this one with a nefarious program, because Jesus Christ foiled it’s (read: Satan’s) effort to destroy Him two-thousand years ago, and Jesus can, does, and will do it again (see the Book of Revelation and other of the prophetic books for more input.)
For the new believer, excited as anyone in the honeymoon phase of a relationship, it will be hard to explain to others how in that ordinary moment the earth shifted and eternity opened, but he or she will keep trying.
Perhaps if not so much in words but in some other way, some art form, perhaps (more below–and a call for submissions), or by the myriad everyday ways we “bear witness” of our faith by how we live and treat others, as, by following Christ, we live an increasingly transformed and transforming life…
But for the moment, back to those who want the Gold Cadillac and AI driving it on the road to immortal health and wealth (on this mortal coil, ironically), on their terms.
For all their bucks, brains, and brawn; pomp, circumstance and propaganda–not to mention hubris–they-who-would-be-gods will always fail.
World history illustrates this as well as narrative after narrative in the chronicles of spiritual history where the omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent One rules and reigns.
And takes care of His own.
So, hmmm, (the wannabegods MIGHT muse, if they’re not too busy pillaging, burning, and looting), maybe there IS something, some greater power coming from that God Location.
And they would be right.
But this power is invisible even to the nanoest of nano probes.
OUR INVISIBLE POWER
The user’s field manual, Manufacturer’s instruction book, font of wisdom , aka the Bible, tells why:
“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8 emphasis added), that is to say, “born again“. In other words, no man-engineered GPS mechanism can track where the Spirit of God goes.
But that’s not all.
(And the next statement I think must scare the Hell out of wannabe’s-in-the-know, if not consciously, somewhere deep beneath all their hype and hope and hypocrisy, where they sense, again, that some kind of power is operating in some way and place. I mean because…martyrs…for one thing):
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Even if would-be world-conquerors don’t understand the spiritual nuance embedded in that verse, they do know that certain “religious types” are among the most difficult to herd, even by force, into the hive mind.
But the nature and origin of this freedom power, as it were, is not hidden information.
In fact, here it is:
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
Talk about a powerful inside job!
For if we can get to the foundational thoughts and attitudes of the adversary, beyond all the vitriol and violence, think of all the time-savings and other advantages…
For just two more, the human brain, upgraded by and attuned to “spiritual knowing,” is “switched on” by faith (not some uber-expensive and limited G power) anywhere and at any time–and it is ultimately out of the reach of not only mortal but also eternal mayhem, being “housed” only for a short span of time, down here, in flesh and blood.
In short: the Word of God activated by faith is the best antidote for the hive-mind by which totalitarians want to control others because in all it has to say to us, it holds the secrets to what all people crave for deep down: unconditional love and everlasting security.
And once one has a taste of that, with all its advantages, there is no going back.
WORDS, “WORDS,” EVERYWHERE
God’s reality and wisdom is not only evident in His Word, printed, but also in the “figurative words” of the lush, powerful, magnificent metaphor of tangible creation, recognized by those with eyes to see, ears to hear, tongues to taste, skin to feel, and noses to smell; and in the patterns and cycles of creation both macro and micro, visible and invisible, flesh and blood and mind and heart.
As put in Romans 1:20 (with a bit of a timely warning attached for those resisting the information): “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
But then to metaphorists like me, physical creation is all metaphor once the key of faith opens that door of discernment for all of us.
Which brings me to my next and final point: the value of art (something else AI can only analyze and attempt in a purely academic way but not create with any transcendent depth or meaning).
And, God knows, in this Age of Cancel Culture Decay, we need all the transcendent depth and meaning we can get.
ON THE ART OF FAITH: A CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS FROM ALL OF US
I often think that, of all the artifacts of a nation under totalitarian siege that are most often hidden, smuggled out, hand-copied, if necessary, are the artistic artifacts, tangible testaments, the truth of the people who lived there, suffered, and died–but also Phoenixed again out of the smoldering ruins of some despotic regime.
Artifacts such as are found in the literature, art and music of the oppressed, in the journals and diaries–hieroglyphics on cave walls–such as depict reality “on the ground and in the heart;” such as inspire, encourage, embolden, and uplift others.
Works that go beyond the daily news (film at eleven), real or propaganda, to the universal themes of life that beckon our best and most courageous responses when evil would force (if it could) unquestioned obedience to its rules and regulations (for even false gods have commandments), and bend wills forever to the self-proclaimed masters of the universe (if it were possible).
For the cold, hard news of what is taking place at length reaches everyone, and ordinary resistance builds to eventual victories, but in the meantime, while the soldiers soldier and diplomats work diplomacy, those who depict the human condition–the writers and artists and musicians–both remind the rest of us of the reality outside of the modern-day star chambers, away from the ideologically-controlled ivied towers, and out from behind the shiny desks and bright lights of propaganda mills, and most importantly, they show us how the oppressed survive, thrive, and eventually regain that which the locusts have eaten…
Which is why I am encouraging each of us to contribute the arts and crafts inspired by our faith, artifacts in the regular sense as well as in the sense of Christian ministry, because there is nothing more powerful than the eye-witness accounts and hands-on memorials of those who’ve been there–or who are here right now–and who have, are and will endure.
We need to speak and create in each our own unique genre whether in pen and ink, oil and charcoal, clay, or musical instruments, or by arms to comfort the lonely, prayers to heal the sick, or lessons from that Book to lead, guide, and inspire and dispel the darkness, literally and figuratively.
For we are at the drawing board of our time in history.
And another reason to locate the paint brushes, sharpen the pencils, plan the lessons and sermons–or visit friends, family, and neighbors in need of a little good news and Good News–is that one of the first strategies of totalitarians is to demoralize the masses by trying to convince them spiritual (and all other) absolutes are nonexistent and by mocking and debasing their traditions, values, cultures, and all reminders of same–so the totalitarians can force theirs on us.
And we seem to be in the thick of that, just now.
But only for the time being because we are more than conquerors, we are also overcomers when evil wrecks the world outside and inside, literally and figuratively, for it’s allotted time.
But only for its allotted time, for, as put in Proverbs 16:4: “The LORD works out everything to its proper end– even the wicked for a day of disaster.”
Those who choose to follow God will always have a higher means of information absorption and analysis available to them provided by the One Whose wisdom, power, and might wove together all that is seen and unseen, and despite the mayhem mortals inflict upon His splendid creation and on each other this power carries on and enables us to carry on, too.
Be comforted, encouraged, and emboldened, fellow believers–and those who haven’t yet made your decision (but who soon will, I pray).
Get out your easels, clay, musical instruments, cameras, lesson plans, word processors, wood working tools, recipe ingredients, and all the other implements of your particular art and craft, both tangible and intangible, as gifted by God’s creative genius to YOU, and in sore need in a sore world right now.
I guarantee, it will help others more than you may ever know.
Because despite the seemingly overwhelming power of those who would rather cancel than create, tear down than build up, burn down than “look up,” there is much more to come here–and hereafter.
And all of us will definitely want to be on the right side of this history.
For, as I’ve cited before in various posts (and because I love to remind myself, too):
“It is difficult
to get the news from poems [*]
yet men die miserably every day
of what is found there.”
― William Carlos Williams, Asphodel, That Greeny Flower & Other Love Poems
*also from art, novels, stories, music, the Word of God, prayers, hymns, stained glass, epiphanies, waterfalls, good meals, sunsets…and looking out, up, and beyond the hive-mind and seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling the good news and Good News that abounds.
EVER pregnant with import…