When I was a kid I would be captivated by the Dick Tracy cartoon in the comic section of the paper. It was in color and Tracy always wore a yellow fedora as he tirelessly tracked down the crooks. But what made him stand out was his wrist watch. The detective was way ahead of his time as he communicated by speaking into his watch. Fascinating technology in the 1950’s. Today we take it for granted that we all carry phones, not only on our wrists but on our hip, in our pockets and purses and take them everywhere we go. We not only talk on them, but our whole life revolves around them. We’ve come a long way, baby!
As I grew up we began to watch the sci-fi flicks like The Day the Earth Stood Still, where the alien leader and his robot had come to earth to warn earthlings that they were being watched and that they should live in peace, lest they be destroyed because of being a danger to other planets.
In the 60’s Lost in Space would air on television with the robot that would warn, as he frantically waived his mechanical hands, “Danger! Danger!” Then the 70’s brought us the Star Wars movies with R2-D2 and C-3PO and the robotic world suddenly became more believable. The world of computer technology they portrayed was exciting and to the Geeks, Techies and Trekies, the sky was the limit.
As we skip ahead to the 21st Century, we see some startling advances in technology that have made our heads spin. “Smart” technology has taken over the cyber world from televisions to toilets (yes, I saw one recently); from bombs to phones to automobiles, sunglasses and medical equipment, our world seems to be controlled by the computers and their geek friends.
But maybe our society has or is about to go past a dangerous point of no return with the continuing development of Artificial Intelligence (AI). This is truly amazing technology that some are claiming will control humans one day and save the planet.
Yes, this concept is even being welcomed by developers of AI. Some look forward to the day when man will take a back seat and be under the authority of robots. Their reasoning? Man’s wisdom and decisions have only placed us all in peril and now the technology is here that will force us to do life sensibly. The robots want to be in charge now. Funny, that’s what, in a manner, the alien and his robot were getting at in The Day the Earth Stood Still – “Get it right or we will take charge!”
Is it not amazing to you that the flawed humans, who have caused all the problems, could believe they can manufacture robots that could straighten everything out!? The design for failure is built in. The corruption of the inventor will most assuredly be passed on to the invention. Like breeds like, you know.
Artificial Intelligence is defined as “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.” Capabilities of AI include optical character recognition and computer vision, understanding human speech, competing in strategic games like chess, autonomous cars, military simulations and interpreting complex data.
AI is not an upstart technology that appeared overnight. Research actually began in the 1950’s and the U.S. Department of Defense got involved in the 1960’s and trained computers in basic human reasoning. The evolution of AI has been outlined as: 1950’s through the 1970’s – Neural Networks, 1980’s through 2010’s – Machine Learning and our present day is seen as Deep Learning, as major breakthroughs are creating an AI boom.
An article from the website of SAS Institute, Inc (a leading analytic company) states: “In most cases, AI will not be sold as an individual application. Rather, products you already use will be improved with AI capabilities, much like Siri was added as a feature to a new generation of Apple products. Automation, conversational platforms, bots and smart machines can be combined with large amounts of data to improve many technologies at home and in the workplace, from security intelligence to investment analysis.”
Human knowledge has gone from linear growth to exponential growth. In 1900 it is said that human knowledge doubled approximately every 100 years. By the mid 1940’s knowledge was doubling every 25 years. Today, human knowledge, on an average, is doubling every 13 months. An article by IBM declares “the build out of the ‘internet of things’ will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours.” (No wonder those weird aliens are pictured with oversized craniums! And their hair is gone!)
Obviously, there is much good from AI technology and we will continue to reap benefits from it. When summoned, Siri will direct you to your destination and Cortana will bring required information instantly to your computer screen. You can activate/deactivate equipment remotely and have your coffee piping hot when you arrive at your office.
But there are some dark elements that must be considered and thought through as we move cyberly along. For instance, former Google and Uber executive, Anthony Levandowski, is beginning a new religion, as revealed in an interview with Wired.com. It is a legal entity now and is said to be the new religion of artificial intelligence and called “Way of the Future.” The article states: “The documents state that WOTF’s activities will focus on ‘the realization, acceptance, and worship of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed through computer hardware and software.’ That includes funding research to help create the divine AI itself.” (emphasis mine)
Ridiculous you say? Well, Levandowski doesn’t think so. He says his church will have its own gospel, called The Manual and probably physical places of worship. He declares that this technology will effectively become “a god.” He states, “I would love for the machine to see us as its beloved elders that it respects and takes care of. We would want this intelligence to say, ‘Humans should still have rights, even though I’m in charge.'”
Another very interesting article comes from The Daily Mail.com. The headline says, “Why Humans Will Happily Follow a Robot Messiah.” The article says this will be realized because humans tend to worship supreme understanding and this messiah would solve society’s problems.
The industry gurus seem to have mixed opinions, reservations and predictions regarding AI technology. Elon Musk, the founder of Space X said, “It is our biggest existential threat. There needs to be some regulatory oversight.” Google executive, Ray Kurzweil, “With robots in our brains we’ll be ‘god-like.’” Others are saying, “The human era could be ending, and machines will take over…Soon robots will walk among us. They will play with us, teach us, and they will truly be our friends…We are summoning up demons… AI could become the worst event in the history of civilization.”
Very realistic robots are among us already. Sophia is an extremely lifelike, intelligent, attractive AI machine that will carry on a conversation, do tasks, solve problems and one author says she may someday be your spouse. YouTube loves to display Sophia and other robots as well.
Sometimes I wish we could stop, step back and catch our breath and rethink concerns that arise with technologies like these. But progress is what it is, and humans aren’t known for doing rational things much of the time. To me, opening this Pandora’s Box of the unknown seems to be a time we need to move with extreme caution.
If you are a believer in the Bible, you should see a very interesting parallel here. The book of Genesis tells us God created man in His (God’s) image. We now see that man is creating his god in his (man’s) own image. This alone should cause a moment of pause and concern.
The Bible also tells us how Lucifer became the archenemy of God, his Creator (Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:12-ff). It seems that he desired to be God. After being thrust out of Paradise, he tells the first woman that she can be like God. Isn’t it amazing that technology is now telling us we can be ‘god-like’ and our salvation will come as cyber salvation? Some desire for us to worship at the feet of a robot that they create.
And with AI technology where it is and where is it headed, it is not a far stretch to understand the book of The Revelation a bit better when it describes the lifelike image that would be formed, speak great things and be worshipped (Revelation 13:14-15). Sophia today is extremely convincing with eye contact, skin texture and facial expression. A bigger-than-life world ruler would be even more believable.
We will all hear more about Artificial Intelligence as we go along. It is our world today. It is the future, good or bad. And it is far from the innocent days of Dick Tracey! As the Lost in Space robot would warn, “Danger! Danger!”