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The “First Church of AI” with its own “dean,” disciples, and holy book (called “the manual”) was born recently – “and set to commence communion with the new god on Earth”, gushes Bruce Grierson of New Trail Magazine.  Not just another idol made in our image, AI promises to be a “billion times smarter” and an “astronomically faster” thinker than those who created it. Such is the uncontemplated cheerfulness about this so-called evolutionary leap of our times.

Last spring a Silicon Valley engineer filed papers with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to register a new non-profit. Its mission:

The realization, acceptance and worship of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence developed through computer hardware and software.

That’s just how easy it was for Anthony Levandowski (pioneer of self-driving cars) to create his own church, complete with his own god. He envisions uncorking a friendly new intelligence with happy synergy of human and machine.

With Friends like AI you don’t need Enemies

Levandowski admits, “equal partners in this arrangement we are not… the only question is whether this god will treat us as pets or livestock.”  The AI “neither hates you nor loves you,” reminds Theorist Eliezer Yudowski, “but you are made of atoms which it can use for something else.” How friendly can that thought be – when humans are further reduced to utility?

As I have mentioned in past articles on Artificial Intelligence, there is growing recognition of the need to put rules in place “while humans still have the upper hand.” Such was the case when dozens of AI experts gathered at Monterey Peninsula, California to create a kind of founding document of guiding principles for friendly AI.

It should surprise no one that “ferocious debates erupted around the ethical dimensions of AI research… [though] few would disagree that we need to inject into AI the ability for a human referee to step in and intervene, to prevent a program from improving on the instructions”… and by “improve” they mean improve in favour of efficiency and effectiveness relating to AI, not necessarily human flourishing.

We create AI in Our own Image

Mike Bowling, U of A Professor of computing science is untroubled by an experiment gone bad a few years ago with Microsoft’s self-learning bot, Tay:

“The company equipped Tay with a sunny disposition and parachuted it into the Twitterverse. With in 24 hours, Tay turned into a jackleg neo-Nazi, churning out poisonously racist tweets” – learning how people talk on the internet.

But then, what should we expect when we give it our “nature” and then immerse it in our “nurture”? Our broken DNA has no chance of improving the relationality of AI. While the theology of AI firmly sets us at the centre of our worldview map, we have always needed to be redeemed and restored to the One who actually made us for Himself.

We need a modern-day Copernican Revolution to displace us from the false notion that we are the centre around which all other heavenly (or AI) bodies orbit. This new religion of AI is not an evolutionary leap forward – – it is just another stumble onwards in the dark.

God created us in His Image

Far from being an anthropological artifact created in our image, the Living God is a person-in-relation, a Trinity who made us for Himself. All distortions of His character and all mutations by bad theology continually need to be corrected, revealed, and redeemed. What it means to be a person is hinged on what it means to be created in the Image of the Personable God.

This is more enigma than dogma.

For more see “Artificial Intelligence.”