Elon Musk told his artificial intelligence employees a few days ago that humanity has only a five-to-10 percent chance of surviving smart robots. He reiterated the need for immediate and strong regulation of artificial intelligence research.
At first blush, it seems odd for a billionaire businessman to request more regulation of his business, Neuralink. Under normal circumstances, one would suspect the billionaire feared his company was falling behind and hoped to use regulation to inhibit others advancing beyond him.
With Musk, I don’t think that’s true. Perhaps his mind constantly evaluates not only what he is doing in his businesses, but the potential impact those developments may have upon people and our world. I think it’s a rare gift among the tech titans.
The ultimate tool for insight into humanity – both as individuals and as the human family – is the Bible. There, the Creator revealed 1) our ultimate destiny, 2) our fall from grace and 3) our path back home. Being our Creator, God understands us better than anyone else.
In Ezekiel 29 and 38, God speaks about putting “hooks in your jaws,” in assembling together the nations intent on wiping out Israel and the Jews. Artificial intelligence and robotics are most certainly now hooks in the jaws of every advanced and militarily powerful nation on earth.
They may want to ignore the developments within artificial intelligence and robotics, but they dare not. If they pass on this, another nation will become preeminent and displace them from the economic and battlefield spoils of “harnessing” this technology for their own benefit. Hooks in their jaws, they can’t leave it alone.
Technology is in and of itself neutral. It is neither good nor bad. What makes a particular technology good or bad is the manner in which it is deployed and the purposes for which it is used. Thus, nuclear power has given us nuclear weapons, but also nuclear power stations and cancer treatments.
Big Pharma has concocted pills that can cure disease, or addict the user and become the focus of his or her life, until they end it. Airplanes can carry us around the world, but the same machines can drop bombs on our enemies.
The common denominator in technology is humanity. It’s the specific ways in which we choose to employ technology. Yet humanity in God’s eyes is not a single entity. The New Testament teaches there are three separate and distinct people groups: the Jews, the Gentiles and the Christians. The Jews have a long history with God (the Old Testament), the Gentiles have no history with Him.
The Christians are the wildcard; they are drawn from both the Jews and Gentiles to become God’s family. The apostle John described Christians as the “Children of God” (John 1:12). In Revelation 19:7, John describes the ultimate destiny of the Christians, “… for the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.”
Each of these people groups will respond differently to artificial intelligence. We won’t know until it happens. But artificial intelligence is not a technology we can deploy and retain control over. It is a technology that has its own mind. Unlike any other technology we have developed, it can choose how it will advance itself on out into our future. Cheap computing power gives it ever-increasing abilities. It will most certainly surpass our own abilities. The only question is when.
Musk is right. Robots and artificial intelligence need to be regulated. But by whom?
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