One of the most important concepts discussed in our day is intelligence. Dictionaries offer several definitions of intelligence, including mental acuity and the skilled use of reason. When humans reason, they think. Early in life, children become aware of their own thinking skills. I was fond of pointing to the foreheads of my young grandchildren and reminding them, “That’s where we think.” Interesting discussions of human intelligence sometimes followed. Artificial intelligence first became known in the 1950s. AI is an exceedingly young discipline.
Cognitive thinking skills have been commonly researched. In the last 60 years artificial intelligence (AI) has risen from a young discipline to a mature topic of frightening proportions. The term AI was first coined in 1956 in a conference at Dartmouth College. Computer technology drives virtually all artificial intelligence phenomena. A study of the history of computer technology reveals that many of today’s senior citizens’ earliest and fondest memories of electronic communications relate to primitive telephones—certainly not the more advanced computer technology powering the current craze for AI. Currently we hear so much about AI we may feel that the phenomenon has been a feature of modern technology for many years. This is not true. The time frame of 1974 to 1980 became known as the “AI Winter.” From 1987 to 1993 there was another “AI Winter.” Artificial Intelligence was not yet a topic of major concern.
We have studied several significant AI phenomena giving us cause for concern. We start with a humorous story concerning Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, defeated by the AI “machine” Deep Blue in 1997. He claimed it was a bad day for him, but the problem, according to Kasparov, was that the computer was not too fast, but too slow.
AI aims to imitate the cognitive abilities of a human being such as the capability for decision-making. Its capabilities are intimately linked to startling advances in computer technology and have led computers to perform increasingly complex tasks which previously could only be delegated to a human. Rapid technological change will transform the classroom for the next generation of learners. Educators must now cope with the possibility that student research papers could be generated by an AI machine.
Some Technologies relate to “self-driving cars.” The term sentient—the ability to receive and feel things is an outcome of machines that are somehow “aware of” their own existence. We wonder if AI is “sentient,” able to perceive and feel things. Has AI achieved consciousness? The issue of “human consciousness” has been dubbed “the hard problem” by research experts.
AI—artificial intelligence—simulates HI—human intelligence. Non-iiving machines are able to process language, recognize barcodes and group and sort materials according to what the barcodes tell them. They are also capable of driving our automobiles with human hands displaced from the steering wheel.
The subject of AI produces abundant human responses and emotions. Anything artificial is often viewed with suspicion in our day while the adjective genuine is highly valued as a descriptor of quality and desirability. AI may generate scorn when compared with genuine human intelligence (HI). Many phenomena are described under the broad category artificial. In many cases our technologists have substituted non-genuine or artificial products for genuine ones. We wonder how our readers react to the massive tradeoff of the genuine for the artificial. Are we living in unprecedented times? Is our society transitioning to something sinister and disturbing? Or could we attribute the changes to “progress” and assign a positive spin to the changes?
Another term currently in use which may be confused with AI and HI is Machine learning (ML). Technologists who first originated concepts of ML designed their machines to duplicate human thinking. Their machines were supplied with unlimited data. The machines could categorize data in the same way human minds do.
We close with a personal incident from decades ago. I was selected to deliver a short speech at my high school graduation. My assigned speech topic was “Industry” (not my own first choice). My Class Adviser offered a suggestion. A new buzzword was circulating at the time: Automation. This term may have been a reference to early ML (machine learning). Many decades later we are aware, more than ever before, of human intelligence, artificial intelligence, and related topics such as machine learning. Society treads on fascinating, sometimes dangerous ground.
Mankind has been created in God’s Image. The theological and philosophical truth of this statement is apparent when we look at the mind and realize the human mind originates in the creativity of God himself. GNT translates Genesis 1:26-27: “Then God said, “And now we will make human beings: they will be like us and resemble us…So God created human beings, making them to be like himself.” The thought of modifying the body to be different from the way God created him or her is profoundly troubling.
The consequences of creating AI, a new sort of intelligence, from God’s original created work, the human mind, are sobering. But we must reconcile such concepts with God’s mandate to “Subdue the Earth” a subject of many challenging courses in theological seminaries. We search for divine wisdom to correctly interpret such theological mandates.