What is real?

(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends, as you may have noticed by now, I am fascinated with how technological developments are transforming culture, and therefore, changing the apologetic questions of our time.

For instance, today Wired published an article by Sandra Upson with the stark title, Artificial Intelligence Is Killing the Uncanny Valley and Our Grasp on Reality.

As Upson summarizes,

These projects are wildly different in origin and intent, yet they have one thing in common: They are producing artificial scenes and sounds that look stunningly close to actual footage of the physical world. Unlike earlier experiments with AI-generated media, these look and sound real.

A few potential implications:

  1. The invention of new and amazing art forms
  2. The creation of mesmerizing entertainment and incredible storytelling
  3. New kinds of jobs and industries (e.g., “AI Imagineer”)
  4. An exponential increase in the phenomenon of ‘fake news’
  5. Technological innovation to ‘verify’ that something is ‘real’
  6. A backlash and a preference for in-person, #nofilter experiences

As these trends spread around the globe, I wonder if some people will simply become more suspicious of truth claims.

While that creates some challenges, I believe it also opens up an opportunity for the local church, in practical love for neighbors, to demonstrate the reality and substance of the Christian way of life. That will serve as a contrast and as a ‘foolish’, unaugmented example, of God’s presence in the world.

The other thread of this is the sheer reality of God being God. We may be increasingly skeptical of what we see online, but when you meet God - that changes everything. In this coming social context, there may be a greater appreciation that our God can be personally known. You can ‘verify’ God’s reality for yourself.

(SeanO) #2

You know, I just finished reading an article pointing out that AI can actually cause an issue with the supply of skilled workers. See, the problem is that AI helps - but it does not do the entire job. So sometimes you need an expert with years of experience doing the repetitive tasks - only one problem - now the AI is performing many of those tasks. Where are the experts? So AI is great - but it still can only go so far.

Following article has some interesting examples of art generated by AI with the goal of creating entirely new styles / genres of art:


(Carson Weitnauer) #3

Hi @Sean_Oesch,

Interesting reflection and a great link! I liked this painting:
36 AM

I’d caption this one, “Beach Memories”. A bit of a hazy remembrance, but it captures the sense of relaxing with a beautiful view of the ocean.

I do think we’re going to see increasing and intensive demand for highly skilled employees who work on and around AI systems even as lower-skilled, repetitive work is reduced. That will be a challenging transition, to understate the problem.

Another factor: if prices go down 60% for a given product or service, because AI eliminates so much labor in producing it, but the reduced price means that demand for that good goes up 300%, or however the numbers work out, employment could remain constant as more people are hired to do the little bit of work needed to create the final product or service. For instance, if having lunch delivered to the office only cost $3, how many more people would order a meal through an app?

(SeanO) #4

@CarsonWeitnauer Supply and demand are certainly intriguing to consider in light of this shift in the role technology plays in life. I wonder if the gap between the rich and the poor and city vs rural life will begin to widen at an ever increasing pace? Especially if smart cities become a reality.

(Carson Weitnauer) #5

It is possible! The other option is that, as high speed broadband becomes more widespread, geography matters less. If you want to work remotely from Thailand, you can do so. (Perhaps we have some folks in RZIM Connect who live in Thailand - permanently or temporarily?). There’s no logistical reason not to have digital ecosystems in rural locations. Just jump in your self-driving car if you have to visit the city for an in-person meeting - or join the office in the VR space/Slack channel/etc. where a global workforce connects. Or, while they are focused on cities, Steve Case and J.D. Vance are scouring the Midwest for innovative startups where they can invest capital.

My guess is we will see both trends at once: a widening divide between cities and rural areas with a counter-trend of looking for value and opportunity to connect people in rural or ‘remote’ environments with those in urban hubs.