Should we be worried about advances in Artificial Intelligence?

Question:

Hey Mr. Jeffrey,

Supposedly there is technology that can read thoughts. I didn't think that was possible. What should be the Christian reaction to all this techology? Also should all this crazy A.I. technology make a Christian nervous?


Answer:

The current state of technology is not nearly to the point of thought reading. It is more like intention guessing in a limited context based on clues. For example, guessing the words someone intends to say even when they don't vocalize the words by reading the signals for facial positions. Or detecting when a driver decides to stop before he moves his foot. [Mike Elgan, "Mind-reading tech is here (and more useful than you think!)", ComputerWorld, 7 April 2018]. None of this is picking up random thoughts out of the air. In fact, all require electrodes to be attached to the head to monitor the neural firings and all have to be trained since everyone's brain is not exactly the same. Therefore, you don't have to worry about someone picking up your thoughts as you walk through a grocery store.

There is a fundamental problem with Artificial Intelligence. Machines by their very nature are deterministic; that is, they are predictable. If you ask a computer to draw an elephant, you'll get the same elephant every time. If you ask a person to draw fifty elephants exactly the same, you'll get fifty different drawings because people are non-deterministic. We are not fully predictable, even when we are trying to be the same. Current trends in AI are adding small levels of randomness (noise) to the process to get computers to get closer to simulating brain activity and the results seem magical, but it still remains that computers are predictable.

What remains missing is the key element that makes mankind different from the animals. All of us have a spirit, like the Spirit of God, and we don't know how that spirit interacts with our physical bodies. "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thessalonians 5:23).

Regardless of what technology manages to accomplishes, our focus remains the same: to live righteously before our God. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22-25).