Friday, July 28, 2023

The Looming Spiritual Crises: Who Will Rule the Coming "gods"?

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American military use of artificial intelligence will be more ethical than that of other nations because the United States is a “Judeo-Christian society.”

That opinion was voiced recently by U.S. Air Force General Richard G. More. The three-star officer believes that because of the broad scope of religious belief and expression in the United States, there will be a more principled approach to the use of AI by the military as America's military crosses the threshold of our war machines being entirely directed by artificial intelligence rather than trained humans.

Be informed, not misled.

Ethical concerns.

While the U.S. military does not have weapons entirely controlled by artificial intelligence in its inventory, whenever these weapons are deployed, the AI driving these weapons will likely be programmed with a “Judeo-Christian” value system, Lt. Gen. Richard G. Moore Jr., deputy chief of staff for plans and programs in the U.S. Air Force, suggests.

According to a March report, lethal autonomous weapon systems, or LAWS, “are a special class of weapon systems that use sensor suites and computer algorithms to independently identify a target and employ an onboard weapon system to engage and destroy the target without manual human control of the system.”

Last Thursday, at an event hosted by the Hudson Institute, Moore was asked when the U.S. could start deploying LAWS and if the military had an ethical duty to keep humans involved even when the technology was ready.

A growing segment of the international community has been calling for a ban or regulation of laws due to ethical concerns. Moore explained that the development of ethical AI will be a significant feature of the Defense Department’s budget in 2024.

Who will rule the coming "gods?"

We have entered a new age in which we can go into the quietness of our rooms and slip into whatever identity we desire-virtually. Artificial intelligence is fast becoming a regular part of our lives.

The existential crisis of our age is how technology, specifically AI and robots, is eclipsing our reverence for the transcendence of God. In the rush to create human-helping AI, technologists are making machines that may eventually become our masters. Some people are already worshiping at the feet of the great god of AI, just as the ancient Philistines once bowed before statues of the idol Dagon.

Wallace Henley, pastor, and best-selling author, in his compelling and groundbreaking book, asks the question that must be asked---and answers it regarding the impending moral and ethical choices we will soon need to make, as believers in Christ, to hold AI and its creators accountable to the true God. Otherwise, our world will spin into peril.

The following is drawn in part from Henley's book; and part from my own observations. I encourage you to read his book.

Henley says, "Great was the outcry" from secularists and others when the General claimed that Judeo-Christian values would be considered AI advances in the military.

However, the General’s opinion must be carefully thought through, especially in light of a powerful civilian's statement several years ago.

Referring to AI, former Google engineer Anthony Lewandowski said, “What is going to be created will effectively be a god … If there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?”

Lewandowski expressed that view as he announced the formation of the First Church of Artificial Intelligence.

Note how quickly these thoughts of both men go to the spiritual consideration of AI and its rapid development. 

Lewandowski’s religious organization would have been called “The Way of the Future.” Ultimately the plan for the church was abandoned. Still, the very thought of it revealed how people in an aggressive secular culture can see AI as a mechanical oracle to be worshipped.

The AI church did not come into existence, but the “religion” proliferated. 

And, I might add — The  AI “church” effort revealed that there is a growing number of technological geniuses who believe we humans now have so much power available to us that we can create “god.”

For example, NPR says, "But if we take seriously the reliable — and, thus, invaluable — scientific and historical knowledge we now possess, we can redefine God in a radically new and empowering way that expands our thinking and could help motivate and unite us in the dangerous era humanity is entering."

The Bible says God created us in His image, but having lost the vision of true Transcendence, some are attempting to make “god” in the human image.

Humanity’s endless preoccupation with self, beginning in the Garden of Eden, has reached critical mass. The sense of God’s transcendence has been eclipsed in the hearts of the multitude by fascinations on the immanent scale. Humanity is so enthralled by the horizontal that it forgets to look up to the vertical, “the Lord high and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1-6).

The dangers for us, our families, and our civilization are immense. The existential crisis is that in the very age when the recognition of and reverence for the transcendence of God is being eclipsed, technology is on the verge of such powerful achievements as quantum computing and dramatic breakthroughs in robotics. Some dream of manufacturing robots that humans can worship, while others seek to produce robots that will worship humans.

We have nothing to fear if the human creators of AI mechanisms are themselves aware of their accountability to the true God for the gifts, talents, and skills He has given them for glorifying Him and serving His creation.


If the AI designers on the immanent level, a theory holding that the divine encompasses or is manifested in the material world, that their motives, moral values, and ultimate goals are focused only on the horizontal, there is much reason for concern, because, in the effort to give us utopia, they will bring upon our heads dystopia.


Henley writes, "All this reveals that the greatest danger facing a society that distances itself from the doctrine and reality of God’s transcendence is the human mind that does not recognize the nature of God and its accountability to Him."

In fact, C.S. Lewis saw it decades before the present crisis began to take shape. Lewis wrote, in The Abolition of Man, that “man’s conquest of nature, is that the dream of some scientific planners means the rule of few hundreds of men and women over billions and billions of men and women.”

So, Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, told a 2017 conference of computer builders that what George Orwell described in his book, 1984, as well as Huxley’s Brave New World, were futures that would be determined “by the choices that you as developers make and the impact of those choices upon the world."

“Neither of those choices (Orwell or Huxley) is something we want,” Nadalla said.

But the major issue is one that is most neglected — the spiritual implications. To borrow from and rephrase a statement of Saint Augustine: The human heart was made by God and His transcendence and for God, and only God can fill it.

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Vigilant. Be Engaged. Be Prayerful.