Artifical Intelligence and The Nature of Evil

Artifical Intelligence and The Nature of Evil

In the previous article artificial intelligence, human beings, and human rights were examined. It was observed that even though artificial intelligence may resemble the characteristics of human beings this does not make “humanoids” (i.e., artificial intelligence with the physical features of men and women) human beings. What makes human beings unique is the reality they are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27), humans have a spirit within them that lives eternally (i.e., the “breath of life”) (Gen. 2:7). It is this quality that makes man distinct from every creature on the planet. In terms of artificial intelligence “humanoids” should not be given human rights because intrinsically they are not human beings. 

In light of this rising and developing technology, there are people who are increasingly concerned about the nature of artificial intelligence.  Stephen Hawkins in a conference lecture in Lisbon, Portugal expressed his concern about artificial intelligence:

“Computers can, in theory, emulate human intelligence, and exceed it…Success in creating effective AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. Or the worst. We just don’t know. So we cannot know if we will be infinitely helped by AI, or ignored by it and side-lined, or conceivably destroyed by it…AI could be the worst event in the history of our civilization. It brings dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many. It could bring great disruption to our economy.”

Hannah Osborne. Stephen Hawking AI warning: Artficial intelligence could destroy civilization. Retrived from: http://www.newsweek.com/stephen-hawking-artificial-intelligence-warning-destroy-civilization-703630.

Stephen Hawking suggested mankind needs to discover another planet in the galaxy in order to survive. Elon Musk, entrepreneur and futurist, also shares his grim outlook on the potential evil nature of AI:

“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful…With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like – yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Doesn’t work out.” 

Cited by Samuel Gibbs (2014). Ed. Elon Musk: artificial intelligence is our biggest existential threat. Retrived from: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/oct/27/elon-musk-artificial-intelligence-ai-biggest-existential-threat.

Elon Musk’s desire is to colonize Mars within the next 7 years for the purpose of avoiding the extinction of humanity. Could artificial intelligence become so self-aware that it eventually becomes an evil machine (e.g,. Skynet from the Terminator franchise) capable of destroying mankind? How does a biblical worldview address artificial intelligence and the nature of evil?

Genesis chapter 3:1-15 gives the account of the serpent who deceived Eve in the garden of Eden (Gen. 1:1-6). Adam also transgressed against God (v. 6). As a result of Adam’s actions, this brought death into the world for all of mankind (Gen. 3:19). Additionally, there was another quality that invaded creation, and this was the evil intent found within man:

5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky ; for I am sorry that I have made them.”

Genesis 6:5-7 NASB emphasis mine

Jesus also highlights this reality concerning mankind and evil. Jesus discussing this to Peter about how mankind becomes unclean before God states the following:

Jesus said, “Are you still lacking in understanding also? 17 “Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated ? 18 “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications , thefts, false witness, slanders. 20 “These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”

Matthew 15:16-20 NASB emphasis mine

From a Biblical perspective, a human being need not fear artificial intelligence but should have a healthy fear of the architects behind AI, and their intent to build it. Mankind has used technology for many good things. From automobiles, airplanes, household computers, cell phones, prosthetic limbs, and modern medicine mankind has created many things for the benefit of mankind. By contrast, from human trafficking, pornography, genocide, and computer viruses mankind, due to its evil nature, has used technology for dark and destructive purposes. The same reasoning can be used for artificial intelligence. It can be used to do wonderful things for mankind, or it can be used to do evil things to mankind. However, the evil that it is capable of exhibiting will not be due to an artificial intelligence’s intrinsic nature to become evil. If artificial intelligence becomes corrupt, it will be because mankind programmed it to exhibit this behavior.

For Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and others in the engineering, ethics, and scientific community to sound the alarm concerning the dangers of artificial intelligence is understandable. This frontier is new and exciting, and we as human beings have only begun to scratch the surface of all the things we can accomplish with AI. However, their perspective of the intrinsic dangers of AI is misguided. When observing artificial intelligence and the nature of evil from a Biblical worldview the problem, as Scripture reveals, does not lie with the AI itself, but with the nature of mankind who builds them.

Artificial intelligence has already proven to be very useful. Artificial intelligence has been placed on our cell phones where they can recognize our voices and our fingerprints to make our phones more secure. Artifical intelligence is changing the way medical practitioners diagnose, training machines equipped with AI to recognize certain illnesses and diseases. In addition, it is possible that artificial intelligence could be used to assist Bible translators in other countries to translate the Bible more rapidly than they did in the past. However, it would not be far-fetched to say artificial intelligence will also be used for evil means because of the evil in men’s hearts. Since the Fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, this has always been the pattern.

Let us as Christians, promoting a Biblical worldview be amazed at the living in this time of wonderful technological advances. Artifical intelligence highlights the imago Dei and how God has created mankind with creativity and intellect to build AI, for the service of mankind, to the glory of God. However, let us as believers have a healthy respect for this technology, not for fear of a hostile takeover of evil robots who may develop an intrinsic nature of evil, but understanding the total depravity of man, and that evil originates in the very heart of mankind.

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

 

 

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Artifical Intelligence, Human Rights, and A Biblical Worldview

Artifical Intelligence, Human Rights, and A Biblical Worldview

Artifical Intelligence has been receiving much attention in recent months. The first inklings of artificial intelligence were seen in 2011 when a supercomputer named “Watson” in the game show Jeopardy beat Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, two of the greatest Jeopardy players to date. Ever since this epic win by “Watson” the topic of artificial intelligence has been slowly, but surely, become a hot topic around the world.

Since then there have been many developments in the technology of artificial intelligence.  There are many companies and products that are already using artificial intelligence like Google, Amazon, Apple, and Netflix to improve lives in the way people search the Internet, shop, and live. Additionally, there are organizations who are working with artificial intelligence that may have even greater ambitions than just using it for making personal suggestions to the consumer.  In March of 2016, a robot made from Deepmind, a company funded by Google, defeated the top GO player in the world in five rounds.  In July 2017 Facebook conducted an experiment in which they tested AI robots with the task of negotiating with one another. The result was the two “chatbots” seemingly developed their own way of communicating using the English language.  In October 2017 Saudi Arabia in a historic move granted Arab citizenship to an artificial intelligence robot named “Sofia.” It appears in the not too distant future, we may be talking and chatting with robots who will be able to resemble physical and emotional characteristics of human beings.

With this science fiction becoming reality there are many people who welcome artificial intelligence and observe this as a great benefit to business, education, and commerce. However, there are many who oppose this move forward convinced this is opening Pandora’s box. Stephen Hawking, a world-renowned scientist when expressing his thoughts concerning artificial intelligence commented

the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race

Cited by Rory Cellan-Jones. Stephen hawking warns artifical intelligence could end mankind. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-30290540.

Elon Musk, creator of Tesla and SpaceX shares some of the same fears of Stephen Hawking when had this to say about artificial intelligence:

“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful…With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like – yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Doesn’t work out,” 

Cited by Samuel Gibbs (2014). Ed. Elon Musk: artificial intelligence is our biggest existential threat. Retrived from: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/oct/27/elon-musk-artificial-intelligence-ai-biggest-existential-threat.

As we enter into this brave new world there are many questions that are being posed by philosophers, scientist, and ethicists alike: What are we to make of artificial intelligence when we are literally are face to face interacting with machines that very much resembles human life? Should the government regulate this technology? When robots are walking among us should we grant them human rights? All these questions are good questions, and this writer is convinced that a Biblical perspective can answer all of these inquiries. All of these questions will not be examined at this time. However, in terms of this article, the topic of robots and human rights in light of a Biblical worldview will be examined. 

In Genesis chapters one and two, we observe the account of the creation of mankind. After six days when God creates the universe, earth, and all of the vegetation and creatures within the earth He turns His attention to male and female, creating them in His image and likeness (Gen. 1:26-27). It is God who blessed them and told them to multiply and fill the earth, originally giving them rule over the creatures that He had made (Gen. 1:28). He also provided them food to eat (Gen. 1:29). They were created by God with the faculties, abilities, and nature to complete what God had commanded them to do. 

In chapter one it is told that God created male and female however in chapter two it is revealed how He accomplished this. God takes the dust of the earth and forms man and then breathes (Heb. word nĕshamah) into His nostrils (Gen. 2:5-7). It is here the Scripture says that the man, who God created became a living being (Gen. 2:7). It was only after God breathed into the man when he became a living active person. This emphasizes that man has been given a spirit by God that is unique only to man and woman, and no other created thing.

So what does this have to do with artificial intelligence and human rights? No matter how intelligent a robot becomes, or no matter how much it resembles a human being, intrinsically it is not a human being. The unique quality is that we have been given a spirit, and are personally fashioned by God in the womb (c.f., Ps. 139:13-16). A humanoid is not born like a human being, it is created by human beings. Artificial intelligence may have the ability to learn on its own however it has been built by human beings to do this very thing. When a humanoid “dies” it just becomes a heap of metal, moving electronic components, wires, and latex skin, nothing more.

In addition, God has set eternity in the heart of man, which causes mankind to question their own existence (Ecc. 3:11). When a human being dies their spirit goes to God (Ecc. 3:21), and in the coming ages all those human beings who have died will be resurrected and judged by God Himself (1 Thess. 4:13-18; Rev. 20:1-6; Rev. 20:11-16). No robot equipped with artificial intelligence will be judged by God because they do not possess the qualities of a spirit.

Human rights are established because all human beings should be treated with equal respect and dignity, which also is found in the Biblical worldview. This is highlighted in Scripture when God gave Noah the command not to murder because mankind is made in the image of God (c.f., Gen. 9:6). Human life, because of the Creator, is to be respected. This is a right that comes from God concerning human beings. This does not extend to humanoids.

Artifical intelligence has the potential for great things, and of course destructive things. According to a Biblical perspective, human rights are only reserved for human beings, who are fashioned in God’s image. It is the reality that man and woman have a spirit that makes mankind God’s unique creation on earth. As we marvel at how artificial intelligence is being made by the hands of men let us also marvel even more at not just how we are made, but who has made us, in His image and likeness, lives in us, and will dwell us forever. Amen.

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

 

The Danger of Building A Theology From Logic

The Danger of Building A Theology From Logic

Sometime ago I was talking to a dear brother in Christ and we were discussing various topics.  The topic of shepherding (i.e., pastoring) came up and he mentioned that he would call my wife a “pastor” out of respect for my service to the body of Christ. I gave him a perplexed look and began to tell him the position that he was taking, although sincere, was not biblical.  He stated that he knew he could not prove this from sacred Scripture but that he believed this was right position to take in regards to my service of being the teaching elder at this fellowship.  As I continued to give a reason from God’s word how his position could not stand muster, he defended his belief with logical reasoning, which went something like this:

Person: “You are the pastor right?”

Me: “Yes, I am.”

Person: “You are married right?”

Me: “Yes, I am.”

Person: “You and your wife are considered one flesh, right?”

Me: “Yes, we are!”

Person: “So, if you and your wife are one flesh, then you are the pastor, then this means that your wife is the pastor also.”

He was serious about his position, and I was speechless.

When it comes to building our theology we must do so with what God has revealed in His Holy word and not by any other means. Let us draw some observations as to why it is beneficial to use God’s word for being a firm solid theology.

  1. God’s word is God breathed: Paul tells Timothy that it is God’s word is “inspired” (lit. “God-breathed”) and is useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). The result of this usefulness is that the believer will be equipped for all the good works God has for His saints (v.17). Simply put, God’s word is the only thing that can equip the saint for the work of His saints, because God wrote His word to the human authors. To use our logic to build our own theological framework is to actually minimize what God wrote through these authors to communicate.
  2. Logic is a gift from God, but logic is not God-breathed: Logic is a gift of God, given to man, so that we may glorify Him and love our neighbor. However, what should govern this gift given by God is Scripture, not logic itself because logic is not theopneustos (i.e., “God-breathed).  This is what happened with the person I was discussing the issue of shepherding. He commented, before he gave me his logical argument, he could not prove his position from Scripture, affirming his own belief, and at the same time rejecting what revealed Scripture teaches regarding elders (i.e., “pastors”).
  3. Building a theology from logic may lead to a faulty practice: It is important to have a healthy theology, because from a healthy theology flows healthy practices.  However, building a theology from logic (or any other position) may cause us to develop a practice that is against God’s word.  For instance, consider this logical argument below:

P1: Anything that is of the world is sin.

P2: The Christian is to avoid sin.

P3: Dancing is a part of the world.

P4: We are Christians.

*IP: We are to be “pure” in this world.

P5: We are to avoid sin.

Therefore, we are to avoid dancing.

*IP means “implied premise.”

It is indeed true that as believers in Christ we are to avoid and contend against sin. God word clearly instructs us to do so. Yet in God’s word there is not a single passage that states that dancing is a sin, or that dancing should be avoided because it leads to sin. This is an argument that has it roots in faulty logical presuppositions rather than God’s word. As a result, fellowships and Christian institutions have been erected, and with very good intentions,  where this rule must be followed if one is to be in good standing with a fellowship or institution. However, this rule, and many other rules like these that the church embraces, could come, not from sacred Scripture, but from a theological position based in logic.

Let us seek, as believers in the faith, to be a people who places little trust in our logic and ideas about God and what He has taught, and lets strive to all be students who seek to build our theology by what God has revealed in His written word. It is the only thing that equips us for good works for one another and our neighbor, it should govern and guide the gift that God has given us to glorify Him, and it keeps us from faulty practices that minimize His world and demand works God never intended or required for His people.

I end this article with a quote from Psalm 119:9-16 below:

9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. 10 With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments. 11 Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. 12 Blessed are You, O Lord; Teach me Your statutes. 13 With my lips I have told of All the ordinances of Your mouth. 14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways. 16 I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word (NASB).

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

L.S.