Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Christian’s Look at AI -- Part 1

Artificial Intelligence.

An intriguing idea, isn’t it? To imagine a machine which can replicate a human’s ability to think stirs the mind in so many ways. Indeed, AI has been a darling of science fiction for decades. With it, we’ve created terrifying villains, like HAL from 2001 Space Odyssey. With it, we’ve met some endearing characters, such as Data from Star Trek and Disney’s Wall-e. It is a concept that simultaneously intrigues and terrifies us, and the repulsion-attraction has only grown as the possibility of achieving AI seems to draw steadily closer.

Now AI presents many moral and ethical issues in the general realm. Indeed, those issues and questions are the cornerstone of many secular works, from Star Trek and Blade Runner to Terminator and Person of Interest. But for the Christian, AI seems to present special problems: What is an AI’s relationship with the spiritual realm? Does their sentience mean we would need to evangelize them? How should we, as children of God, treat them—like a tool? an animal? on par with a human?

It’s tough. I openly admit that. AI isn’t directly referenced in Scripture, and complicating things further, many of the questions have far-reaching implications for here and now: What makes us human? How far does the grace and sovereignty of God extend? To whom is salvation offered? Why did God create?

As a result, I will be taking the next few weeks to look at Artificial Intelligence and some of the unique questions AI raises specifically for the Christian.

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