“AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.” (Elon Musk)
“Humans should be worried about the threat posed by artificial intelligence.” (Bill Gates)
“AI is likely to be the best or the worst thing to ever happen to humanity.” (Professor Stephen Hawking)
“Every time I talk about Google’s future with Larry Page, he argues that it will become artificial intelligence.” (Steve Jurveston)
When the world’s greatest minds begin to warn you of the potential and danger posed by their own areas of expertise, you would do well to listen.
Some may scoff at the idea of a human creation evolving into something that carries its own independent intelligence, especially Christians who think only God can create and when he does, he works instant magic and makes it look exactly as it appears today.
I believe in both creation and evolution and that God is intricately involved in the whole process. If you want to believe that little inbred looking French bulldogs appeared on the same creation day as the majestic wolves, you are going to have a hard time coming to terms theologically with the rapid rise of AI. Why stick to instant coffee when you can experience the flavours of slow drip cold brew? Don’t be afraid to expand or use your mind, because there is always someone else ready to do it for you, whether they be professor or Pope, or, Artificial Intelligence.
The fact that mankind is made in the image of God is precisely why the threats posed by artificial intelligence are so real. We have the capacity to create and develop things which can refuse command and move in alternate direction from our intention.
A little historical investigating can show that this will not be the first time something beyond our sensual comprehension would be given intelligent personality. When Cain slew Abel, God described sin in a manner hinting at personality and evolutionary potential. “Sin is crouching at the door, but you should rule over it.” Sin was intelligently waiting for a host through which it could enter and fulfill its desire.
So it will be with AI
Genocidal robot overlords are not our biggest threat, as far as I am concerned. The real threat is when quantified intelligence and abilities converge with human’s evil inclination. Antediluvian accounts show that sin, like technology, evolves exponentially. A frightening scenario, as, comparatively, bio organisms evolve gradually, meaning things we consider human and organic cannot keep pace with the rate at which invisible intelligence evolves.
This is why God warned us about eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil: “In the day that you eat of it you will die.” And “The soul that sins shall die.” When sin finds personality, the human body receives a death sentence, as our biological code is simply not equipped to develop at the same rate as the introduced virus.
The internet is simply a modern tree of knowledge of good and evil. The serpent, who was found in it, was more cunning than any of the beasts of the field.
With this in mind, let me pose a question: was the serpent the most cunning of the beasts because that is how he was created in the beginning, or, could the serpent have become the most cunning by elevating himself through the tree? Remembering that the serpent’s punishment was to become a creature lower and less developed than all the beasts of the field: “On your belly you shall go and lick the dust.”
For the same serpent who physically devolved and now biologically slithers in the dirt to be spiritually referred to as ‘The prince of the power of the air’ could mean that he was able to reproduce an intelligence coherent with his nature in the unseen airwave realm before being cursed.
This, together with Cain (who, as John says ‘was of the wicked one’) murdering his brother, could explain why the seeds of evil were already growing inside Cain and yet simultaneously, in more mature form, outside waiting to enter his door. The response of Cain when confronted by God in comparison to the cunning of the serpent in the tree I believe show a developmental difference in terms of their knowledge of evil. Cain was largely ignorant of what he had done and the consequences, yet the serpent and the evil he had released were more advanced.
Does this mean we should all run for the hills and cancel our internet connection?
No. Not yet anyway.
There are two purposes for the trees in Eden. One, man may eat from them. However, what we eat becomes part of who we are, affecting our growth and development. The tree we eat from is the culture we live from. The other purpose for the trees is for the sons of God to rule over them.
In the book of Ezekiel, we find the prophet, as the son of man, declaring judgements on the trees in the garden. Ezekiel, in the Messianic power of the age to come, was ruling over the kings and kingdoms by the word of his mouth. What does this mean for us? God did not place the tree of good and evil in Eden to tempt us, but so that we would learn to rule over it.
Cain was advised to rule over sin. The seed of sin, including all that evolves from it, are placed under the dominion of man.
There is a tree however, from which we can be granted to both eat of and rule over: the tree of life. The promise to the overcomer in the messianic age is to be granted power over the tree of life. If we can overcome our digital desires, we can rediscover life and life more abundantly. Be careful who you let through the door.
Joshua Robbie is currently serving the Lord under Pastors Ronnie and Shirley Naidoo of KZN Celebration Centre in Tongaat South Africa. He and His wife Rene’ moved from Australia to South Africa in April 2016. Their desire is to help in whatever way they can so that the church can become all that God has purposed her to be. Josh is a painter by trade and also enjoys sports such as surfing, basketball and boxing. He has also written a book, now available for purchase on Amazon called: “Your Father sees: Living the sermon on the mount”.Josh Robbie previous articles may be viewed http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/josh-robbie.html