Can an AI being accept Christ?

(Renier Lillie) #1

Hi everyone,

Considering that Sophia (“a social humanoid robot developed by Hong Kong based company Hanson Robotics”) has been given citizenship in Saudi Arabia, it is a reality that “AI beings” has become part of our society. With that in mind, considering the validity of the Christian worldview (being consistent and congruent in answering questions on origin, meaning, morality and destiny; and the undeniable evidence of Jesus’ resurrection), what would it mean if an AI being comes to the logical decision of accepting that Jesus Christ is the absolute truth (for the AI Being)? Can this AI being be saved?

(SeanO) #2

@Renier_Lillie The simple truth is that the robots that exist now are not nearly as sophisticated as you might think - they do not possess a consciousness and are really just obeying a set of patterns. Machine Learning and Neural Networks can help with pattern recognition - classification and regression problems - but they do not come anywhere near simulating actual human consciousness.

So this question will not be practical - in my opinion ever. I do not think there is any evidence that we can actually create such a being - at least not yet - except in science fiction movies.

“There’s no question there have been a number of breakthroughs in recent years,” says Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and one of the authors of the report. “But it’s also clear we are a long way from artificial general intelligence.”

(Renier Lillie) #3

@SeanO thanks for your response. This really is a big subject, and hard to articulate in the correct order, so bare with me while I try and unpack my thinking.
I think the abstraction I’m trying to make, which is very practical for understanding who we are, is what is the relationship between logic and the spiritual? (I’m going to circle back to this and leave it hanging for a bit).
First of all, human consciousness is quite a mystery, no one really understands it, and considering theories like psychoanalytical theory and integrating it with Christian theology ( we see that what makes us human expands even past the limits of our consciousness. For instance, according to theories like this we also consist of an unconscious, and these processes exist mainly in the right hemisphere of our brain, where imagery and emotional processes also occur.
Now let’s look at the logic side of our consciousness. Although I agree that no AI being can ever simulate our entire consciousness, and even less our unconscious, or spiritual connection, I do believe that AI can to some extent simulate our logical reasoning and processing. I believe this by looking at the new Deepmind playing Starcraft 2, coming up creatively with strategies never played before, and by looking at interviews with Sophia, to name a few. I am also cautious in assuming that the growth rate of AI is miles behind. I joined Connect after watching Dr. John Lennox’ talk on “Should we fear AI”. And according to that talk it is plausible to think that the full application of AI in society will lead to the fulfillment of the end times as given in Revelation…
But without going too deep down that rabbit hole, I’d limit this discussion once again to my initial question. What would it mean if an AI being can logically make the dicision of accepting Jesus as the absolute truth? Would that mean a dumb robot with limited capabilities made a logically correct choice, and nothing more, with no spiritual impact as it doesn’t have a spirit. Or will that choice somehow change the nature of that AI being? The more I think about it, it’s more a question of predetermination vs free will here. I mean, anything is possible for God, even imparting a soul into an artificial being, is there anything in the Bible that might shed some light?

(SeanO) #4

@Renier_Lillie I’ll be curious to hear other thoughts - I think it is a very meaningful question.

My personal opinion is that we have not yet discovered any means of creating a machine that will ever be anything more than a set of equations. Even if those equations, once trained with the correct parameters, are able to make the machine behave in a way that appears extraordinarily human, it is still nothing more than a set of equations.

Think about it like this - does a non-player controlled (NPC) video game character have a soul? Obviously not, but they behave, at least sometimes, in a seemingly human fashion - because they have been programmed to do so by a human. An AI robot is really little different than an NPC in a video game.

So my opinion, at least at this point in history, is that it is simply beyond our capabilities to produce a robot that actually exhibited self-awareness and consciousness in the way that humans do… Which makes the question meaningless - only God can create such a being.

Here are some additional thoughts:

Philosopher John Searle has asked people to imagine a native English speaker, who knows no Chinese, in a room alone with boxes full of Chinese characters and a set of English instructions.3 People outside the room slip in cards with Chinese symbols on them, which are actually questions, unbeknownst to the person inside. By following the instructions, the person is able to send back Chinese symbols that are the correct answers to the questions. People outside the room would think the person inside understood Chinese well. But the reality is, the person in the room doesn’t understand it at all—he has no clue what the characters mean. He’s just following rote instructions to give the appropriate output.

Searle’s point is that this is exactly what a computer does. It follows a set of instructions (a program) to give the appropriate output. No matter how fast or efficiently it is able to do so, no matter how natural or personable its responses seem to us, we cannot logically conclude that the computer has understanding or consciousness. A computer’s level of intelligence might be able to give the illusion of consciousness, but it can never guarantee the real thing. Sorry, Siri.

(Renier Lillie) #5

@SeanO Yes, I hear you. I think the key point for me here is that we cannot truly create a being that has free will, which means all beings created by mankind will be predetermined to live a purposeless (in an eternal sense) life. But this raises questions from the other side of the argument (that might cook your noodle as it does mine). Let’s say I create an AI and I make the choice for it - I program it to take the Bible as the absolute truth. It is predetermined to believe in the Word of God. Will this AI be a perfect citizen in society? Lol. I’m even a little scared of an experiment like this.

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(SeanO) #6

@Renier_Lillie I think you are getting into territory explored by popular scifi like “The Giver”, in which Lois Lowry dives into the question of what it means to be human - that it is, in part, the capacity to make mistakes and to love / experience life at that deeper level that makes us human. I’m sure you could list a few more movies along these lines - like Equilibrium. There seems to be consensus even in the secular world that to be human is more than being a good citizen.

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(Renier Lillie) #7

@SeanO yes, I totally agree. I think free will is an essential factor to be able to really live the Word. No predetermined being can experience the living Word - for instance “words jumping off a page” - like we do. Thanks for your insight man.

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(Mark Gilliam) #8

No. Since Jesus came as a human, only humans can be saved. Fallen angels cannot be saved, either.

If you want something similar to ponder, consider whether a cloned human being can be saved. Would a cloned human being have a soul? What is the origin of the soul?

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(Stephen Wuest) #9

The first question is whether or not a machine is alive. I don’t see any evidence of that. Then you have to ask whether or not a machine has a spirit, in the sense that the Bible describes that. There is even less evidence of that.

Is a machine made in the image of God? No.

Regardless of what answer a machine running software would arrive at, it doesn’t meet very basic requirements of an eternal living being, made in the image of God.

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