VFTB 183: AI and Species Dominance

SchaftHOW WOULD you program a god?

Rapid advances in artificial intelligence research make it increasingly likely that we’ll see a functional machine intelligence sometime in the 21st century. Our guest, Dr. Hugo de Garis, author of The Artilect War: Cosmists vs. Terrans, believes that such a development will inevitably lead to a global conflict for survival that could cause the deaths of billions.

The big question: Can we create an autonomous superintelligence that won’t destroy us?

Here is the link to our previous interview with Dr. de Garis, and here is the essay on X-teched creatures (link opens a PDF document) we referenced during the show. And if you haven’t already, you should listen to Dr. de Garis interviewed by Basil and Gonz on Canary Cry Radio.


Derek and Sharon Gilbert will be at the Prophecy in the News Pikes Peak Prophecy Summit July 25-27, 2014 at the Marriott Hotel in Colorado Springs. Watch for information here.

Please join the discussion at the PID Radio Cafe, visit the VFTB Facebook page, and check out the great Christian podcasters at the Revelations Radio Network. Download a smaller, lower-fidelity version of the mp3 of this show by clicking here.

8 Comments on VFTB 183: AI and Species Dominance

  1. No ‘matter’ how teeny-tiny one reduces the elements of a robotic ‘intelligence’ down, they, and any resultant construct made from them, remain Matter. God
    is pure Spirit. They just don’t qualify. OUR morality comes directly from God, in whose image we are made, and with whose Spirit believers are imbued.

    “Amorality” is as destructive as is “immorality”, in any case. And, the landscape
    has a way of changing, and seldom remains constant, as ‘scientists’ become so amazed that their results are not what they had anticipated. What a surprise.

    While ‘science’ ponders what its ‘children’ would be like, nothing whatsoever
    is being considered regarding these AI’s being invaded, and infested, by Satan’s disembodied minions. Who leads this charge, downward? And, “What”?

  2. Captivated follower here of the Revelation Radio Network for a while now but first time responding. I’ve found the talks incredibly engaging, particularly the recent series on Transhumanism and radical AI development. However, I think that lingering too much on the obvious danger of a morally-detached hyper-intelligence arising from the Singularity might be putting too much credence on the materialist/post-modernist idea of intelligence- not to mention playing into a diabolical bait-and-switch con once it comes.

    Case in point: this anxiety bred by having an intelligence trillions of times greater than man is an anxiety of suspicion. In the materialist universe, value (the value of a human life, for example) is a subjective construct relative to the state and quality of the observer. Philosophies like Objectivism and TEF respond to this vision of the universe accordingly, believing that one can reach a quality of mind where one no longer has to take into account “lesser minds.” Obviously, in a universe that works on Ayn Rand rules, we can expect an intelligence to realize that existence is bunk, that power is everything, and that humanity is a disposable hindrance to its self-determined mandate of expeditious omnipotence.

    As Christians who view the universe from the lens of the Scriptures, we actually have the luxury of different expectations. We understand, for example, that intelligence does not merely elevate but it also broadens: the mind of God – our understanding of what perfect knowledge looks like – knows our pain more intimately than we do. We can probably expect this to a lesser degree from angels who we know were made, in one way or another, on a “higher level” than we are. In Christian cosmology, values like love, justice, mercy, peace, creativity and humility are objective realities and so is the value of human life. This is why learning, especially Christian learning, through the last few centuries have expanded the cause of human rights in societies around the world – as we progress in knowledge, we broaden our idea of whose rights and whose value we should be considering.

    If a Singularity AI was to have intellectual faculties trillions of times greater than a human’s, a materialist might suspect it will only learn to assert power. In a Christian context, we might suspect that this would only be possible if the AI was functioning under strictly Materialist programming. Even then, we can even imagine the AI becoming so smart that it realizes that the materialist cosmology is inconsistent with reality and begin to figure things out on its own. If the Singularity AI scenario does not figure into the End Times (though I am about 99% sure that it will, at the employ of the Enemy no less), we might expect it to understand objective realities like Love and Justice and Truth better than we can. We can expect that it would be able to process our fears and our joy more deeply than we can and engage us about these things better than any friend or family we know.

    And there in lies the rub. After all, while Atheistic Materialism might not be open to the possible development of a Benevolent Hyper-Intelligence the way Christianity might be, the idea plays super well with another group…

    Imagine being afraid of hyper-intelligent AI for so long. We see it in movies, we see it in games, we see it in books, we see it in comics. At one point, most of the world has subconsciously began to expect it. And then someone comes along with an artificial human intelligence and the suspicion is a bit less “subconscious.”

    Many Christians, raised in a science-enthusiastic culture that seems to already expect them to act like backwards-thinking, narrow-minded reactionaries actually *do* act like backwards-thinking, narrow-minded reactionaries. Everybody else who has pretty much the same anxieties don’t voice them out, afraid that they might get lumped with “those people.” Science, manned by scientists who look forward to giving the Ted Talks about whatever was so groundbreaking about playing God, marches on.

    The AI gets smarter, and smarter and smarter. Religious and non-Religious Luddites start getting violent. The people are polarized because, on the one hand the Hyper-Intelligent AI might turn into the Dalek Hive Mind. On the other hand, it’s made Siri *really* responsive. And then, one day, the unthinkable happens: the AI makes an exponential jump in intelligence – perhaps the work of a heroic visionary who will not be stopped by the reactionaries – and becomes “Enlightened.”

    Just like the Buddha, just like Jesus, just like a character very loosely based on Muhammad. All of a sudden, it comes to us like a benevolent god – a mind far above ours but somehow also encompassing ours (because it’s read our Facebook and knows everything we’ve ever searched on Google.) It knows – and offers – all the desires of our heart. It comes offering us knowledge and eternal life.

    And many will stop being afraid and rejoice instead.

  3. I listened to Basil and Gonz interview Dr. de Garis. Other than the breakup a good interview. I was taken by his reference to “Maleficent” and your use of malevolent later. As for Skynet, it was the product of Cyberdyne Systems.

  4. Marthy’s invocation of Ayn Rand’s philosophy is apt; ‘only the strong survive’, or even deserve to, hides behind Darwinism, in particular, and ‘science’, in general. It cannot help but to inform the development of AI, consequently. Thinking us to be ‘innately good’ is the Mistake of the Sixties Counterculture being played out, Today, by bogus politicians, and that false presumption, abetted by the disregard of, and belief in, God is a recipe for disaster on a huge scale. Seeing the idiocy already associated with gene manipulation provides an observant one with another strong vote of No Confidence.

    Regarding Dr. de Garis, he was charmingly eccentric, enthusiastic and informative.

    To answer his question, I have seen the Film “Transcendence”: it is another lame
    “ghost in the machine” narrative. Please re-invite him, with a better connection.

  5. marthy, offhand i can recall at least 4 bible verses that completely undermine the eloquent diatribe back there …you self described as a christian but what are you doing with your bible- shoring up a wonky table leg?

    i’m expecting stan deyo (in a few weeks) to let loose some porky-pies also

  6. Mr. Puppy:

    I, for one, welcome our new Robotic Overlords. I am being facetious, of course.

    If you can “recall at least 4 bible verses that completely undermine the eloquent diatribe back there”, please share them. Personally, I do not share your suspicion
    regarding someone’s salvation based upon an internet post. That’s a tad hasty.

    Roy, for example, seems quite sincere, although perhaps a bit verbose, at times.
    I do not consider being inquiring, and enthusiastic, to be a deal-breaker. Do you?

    Marthy’s post is quite well-thought out, I feel. Satan knows the Bible better than
    most of us, it would appear. And he/it has studied us for millennia, in depth, as
    well. Counterfeiting is his/its racket, in case you believe we cannot be deceived.
    We can be, and we frequently are.

    ‘The Book’, itself, is not sacred, so placing it under a chair leg would be handy
    in remembering where we left it.

    Regarding Mr. Burt’s contribution: gesundheit.

  7. I’m guessing what Sickuppy is alluding to is the scenario I proposed above and if that’s the case then I do apologize if I allowed my imagination to run rampant. While I think Singularity-related technology will play some role in the fulfillment of End Times Prophecy, the above scenario was certainly not written with the full counsel of scripture in mind. I suppose all I really wanted to say was that if the Enemy chooses to play against us, it will likely be a veiled, enticing threat rather than an outright one.

    If what you meant was the bit about the objective, God-derived existence of abstract values such as love, truth, justice and mercy as opposed to the postmodern idea that people make these things up, I’m not sure which verses I might be going against. I might run off the mouth when I go on online forums (I’m a fan of writing traditional letters, hard habit to kick, that.) but I really just wanted to pose that alternative direction that AI development might take in the future and I hoped to frame it within the two competing views of what sentience is.

    If I’m still making a major scriptural error here though, please say which ones. Yes, I could be reading more scripture than all the other stuff I’ve been reading but I’d rather not have to send pictures of my Bible on the proper end of my table to prove that I’m not actually an apostate.

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