(A)rian (I)ntelligence

In a recent open letter, The Future of Life Institute, notes:

“AI labs [are] locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control.”

After noting that “contemporary AI systems are now becoming human-competitive at general tasks” the letter then asks a series of disturbing questions:

Should we let machines flood our information channels with propaganda and untruth? Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones? Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization?”

The obvious question that last one begs is, “Do we, in fact, have control of our civilization?” That sounds awfully deterministic to me, like a kind of scientific Calvinism.

We all know the universe and everything in it is the product of millions of years of random mutations, right? Right? Control? Determination? Intelligent Design? Why, that sounds downright theistic. Or at least like a conspiracy theory. “You mean someone is actually controlling all this?” Maybe The Future of Life Institute just said the silent part out loud.

What the open letter is admitting is that, once again, it seems that the experts have invented something they can’t control (like gain of function). It’s funny how scientists, for whom evolutionary thinking is a given, are afraid of letting their creation evolve.

Speaking of evolutionary thinking, how did AI get here? Spontaneous generation was long ago ruled out. So, what is AI? Is it an intelligence like ours or is it the same thing as ours? It can’t be the product of evolution because it’s artificial. It’s manufactured. If it is, in fact, an intelligence like (or the same as) our own, can we say it is the result of a kind of procreation?

Scientists once again are showing us how much they take on faith without ever referring to God. What, exactly, is intelligence? Scientists can’t quite nail it down. I also detect the old Arian heresy has returned. Christ was once believed to be the highest intelligence ever “made” and thus He might be harnessed by the State to wield imperial power.

The Nicene Fathers insisted, however, that Christ was “begotten, not made” — one and the same substance as God the Father — thus beyond anyone’s control — and thus denying the Arian princes access to this totalizing power. Unfortunately, the pope claimed it for himself and the Church. Hence the Protestants had to wrest it back.

It is time for a New Reformation, a return (like the first one) to the Word of God. The future of life (eternal) depends on it.

Author

  • The Rev. Jake Dell is the Priest-in-Charge of St. Peter’s Lithgow in Millbrook, New York. He is a member of the board of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion-USA.

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