So, what is Artificial Intelligence and how is it starting to impact society?
AI is used to represent suites of technologies and scientific principles that enable machines to perform human-like tasks, especially in the concept of learning from experience and being able to function independently in the way a human being would.
The fundamental scientific principles behind AI-devices are three-fold:
1) Being able to learn from occurrences.
2) Based on previous learnings, being able to predict future occurrences.
3) Reacting appropriately based on (1) and (2).
AI is used in cash machines, online banking, satellite navigators, search engines, driverless cars, smart factories, smart phones, speech and face recognition devices, security devices, weather forecasting, stock control, market prediction, medical diagnosis, failure prediction and many more areas. Basically, AI is right here.
The latest direct applications of AI in health care, robot-marriage, sex-robots, robot-pets and AI-playmates could be worrying. Recent research into how AI-based devices could be made to express emotions, show affection, demonstrate love, and co-ordinate and react to issues just as humans would is an indication of what the future will look like. It appears from a human perspective that the advancement of AI is like the construction of the Tower of Babel: “The Lord said, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!” (Genesis 11:6).
If this is how far AI could drive us, what then becomes of humanity AND our faith? Why should we be interested? As Christians should we just leave this to the scientists?
Many of my friends have asked me this question and mostly I feel it dwells on the issue of boundaries. Nowadays, we are more comfortable with boundaries and classifications, but the voice of the Christian on AI is extremely important because AI is not just a technology; aspects of it – depending on who is handling it – define humanity. There are ethical, moral, sociological, philosophical, religious and other implications of AI which stream outside core sciences.
More critically, for us as Christians, the earth is the Lord’s (Psalm 24:1). He is the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), and we are his stewards (Genesis 1:28). We are called, therefore, to be interested in our Father’s estate.
AI, like any other human creation, can be good or bad – largely dependent on the world view upon which it is built. The Christian has a voice here. If it is used as the agent for an atheist agenda, then it can be dangerous but if it is used to promote Christian theism and especially as a mechanism to promote effective human-human relationships as well as human-God relationships, then it is good.