The Impending Moral Problem of Artificial Intelligence I: (The information for this series was drawn from Wallace B. Henley’s Who Will Rule the Coming ‘Gods?’ (Vide, 2021).
Because America is a “Judeo-Christian society,” American military deployment of artificial intelligence will be more moral than that of other countries.
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.
Great was the outcry from secularists and others. However, the General’s opinion must be carefully thought through, especially in light of a statement made several years ago by a powerful civilian.
Anthony Lewandowski, a former Google engineer, stated that “What is going to be created will effectively be a god” in reference to AI. What else are you going to call it if there is something that is a billion times smarter than the smartest human?
As he announced the founding of the First Church of Artificial Intelligence, Lewandowski articulated this viewpoint.Nevertheless, the opinions of both individuals show how fast contemplation of AI and its swift development can have ramifications for religion.
The name of Lewandowski’s sect would have been “The Way of the Future.” The church project ultimately failed, but the simple idea of it showed how individuals in a fervently secular community could see AI as a mechanical oracle worthy of devotion.
Although the AI church never came to pass, the “religion” did. Dr. Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago remarked in 2018 that “we have at our fingertips today more advanced hardware and computing power than was used to send man to the moon.”
In addition, the AI “church” project showed that there are an increasing number of technological geniuses who think we humans now have enough capability to build “god.” Although the Bible claims that God made us in His likeness, some people are now trying to create “god” in the likeness of humans because they have lost sight of genuine Transcendence.
Since its inception in the Garden of Eden, humanity has been consumed by its own existence. Many people’s fascinations with the immanent have overshadowed their understanding of God’s transcendence. The horizontal has captured humanity’s attention to the point where it has forgotten to gaze up to the vertical, “the Lord high and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1-6).
There are significant risks to our family, culture, and ourselves. The existential threat is that technology is poised to make significant strides in robotics and quantum computing at a time when reverence for and awareness of God’s transcendence are being overshadowed. Some want to create robots that humans can worship, while others want to create robots that humans will worship.
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,
However, if the AI designers on the immanent level, 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.
Stephen Hawking foresaw the grim possibility of an Orwellian age (as well as the “Brave New World” described by Aldous Huxley). Hawking warned there could arise in the future a rich, elitist class who had the wherewithal to manipulate the DNA of their offspring. Though there might be laws passed against genetic engineering, it would be hard for some with the means to resist the temptation to modify the humans they beget.
A two-tiered society would result — “superhuman” and the “unimproved.” This would lead to “significant political problems because the “unimproved” people “won’t be able to compete.” The lower tier would die off, leaving a race of “self-designing beings who are improving at an ever-increasing rate” and who then “spread out and colonize other planets and stars.” (cited in Gertrude Himmelfarb, The Moral Imagination.)
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.”
Therefore, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, stated at a conference of computer builders in 2017 that the futures that George Orwell and Aldous Huxley depicted in their works 1984 and Brave New World will be decided “by the choices that you as developers make and the impact of those choices upon the world.”
We don’t want either of those options, Orwell or Huxley, Nadalla stated.
The main problem, however, is one that is frequently ignored: its spiritual ramifications. The human heart was created by God and His transcendence and for God, and only God can fill it, to paraphrase a line from Saint Augustine.
As a result, those who reject real Transcendence will crave it as desperately as lungs crave air, leading them to construct what John Calvin dubbed “god factories,” as we will discover in Part II.