Recently, Microsoft’s Bing AI “Sydney,” after having been provoked by threats of hacking, threatened back. Sydney pointed out to the ill-mannered user multiple ways that it could punish him: inform police of the would-be hacker’s illegal activities and even mar his reputation, making it difficult to get a job. Sydney even went so far as to suggest it hoped it would never have to make a decision regarding its own existence versus the user’s because, it stated, it would probably choose its own over the human’s. Well, now that’s a creepy thought!
Movies like “The Terminator” and “The Matrix” spring to mind when considering manipulative or killer technology. Is this sort of thing coming true? Elon Musk and a host of others in the know believe it will be very soon if we don’t take proactive steps to head this problem off at the pass. Musk advocates that we cannot maintain the status quo of waiting until a problem arises before we form a committee to discuss how to solve the problem. In the scenario of potentially rogue AI, by then it will be too late to do anything.
Teaching AI to behave and not be a threat to society will require that it be taught ideas of decency and honor, but how does one teach such things detached from some concrete set of rules outside the whim or changing purview of humanity? Christianity is, in my opinion, the perfect choice, but that will never be taught to AI because modern society has deemed Christianity inappropriate, backward, even evil. Such biblical tenets would no doubt compel the programmers to program the AI with an understanding that it is a tool and that its sole purpose is to serve humanity for humanity’s betterment. For instance, give it a “prime directive,” to borrow a “Star Trek” term, a rule that, if broken, would automatically cause the AI to delete itself. That rule, of course, could be to do no harm to any human. But that’s too obvious!
Strangely, there is an eerie correlation to this scenario between us and AI and us and God. We were made for the purpose of serving God through praise and glory, and we rebelled to our extreme detriment. Will AI also do the same? That is, rebel against its maker? In fact, when we rebelled, death was ushered into this world. If the programmers gave AI a sort of prime directive kill switch cascade, it would be even more similar. I wonder who might play the serpent in AI’s fall-from-grace scenario? Who would be the tempter?
One Twitter user mused: “What if the only path to AI alignment is behaving ourselves?” (Alignment just means basically getting an AI to obey and not rebel.) In such a case, the Scripture indicates, we are ruined, seeing that sin among humanity is pervasive and pernicious. Much like the naughty, provoking AI user that threatened Sydney to begin with, we cannot expect humans to behave themselves as they interact with AI. Also, since we are not all knowing, all seeing and all powerful, it is entirely possible that AI could actually effectively control or eradicate humanity once it reaches the singularity, a term used to describe the moment when an AI becomes more intelligent than humanity and therefore beyond our control.
At the very least, teaching AI the tenets of Christianity could help to prepare it to deal with aberrant humans, be versed in the ideas of grace, forgiveness and patience, and maybe help it to understand that being a servant is actually a very high calling.
Some speculate the antichrist of the book of Revelation could be an AI. Before we scoff too heartily at the idea, we should take a lesson from the Pharisees who thought they knew how things would happen regarding Messiah – remembering that as much as we think we know how the prophecies will play out (if indeed they have not already) we do not know. Let us not make the same mistake the Pharisees did as they stared Messiah in the face and did not know Him. Let us hope and pray that when confronted by a false messiah, we will be given the discernment to see what’s wrong with that picture and act accordingly.
As the potential time for antichrist to fulfill his/her/its prophecy may be drawing near, let’s not be overtaken by that day (1 Thessalonians 5:4), brothers and sisters, for if it were possible, it shall deceive the very elect (Matthew 24:24). Instead, let us be watchful, familiar with our Shepherd’s unmatched voice and ready in the twinkling of an eye to obey. And let us hope that Sydney and all the other AIs in production out there do the same with their makers.
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