The fact that advanced AI robots might walk among us one day is almost a certainty at this point according to Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and many others. But while some people including the aforementioned ones are warning about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence left unchecked, there are a few who see a lot of opportunities here. No, I’m not talking about some evil mastermind planning to rule the world via advanced AI robots, although that thought did cross my mind on several occasions. Instead, the people I’m referring to are none other than Christian priests who are suggesting that robots should be familiarized to the teachings of Jesus and converted to Christianity when the time comes.
The notion of sentient machines is already pretty scary, but to think that these robots could be taught to believe in God is likely to give me nightmares for weeks to come. As you’re probably aware by now, science and religion don’t really get along. Naturally, one can choose to pursue both, but the more you study one of the them the less you’ll find the other to be relevant as religion is based on faith while science is based on empirical evidence. In other words, your brain will find the notion of a supreme being less likely given that there is no empirical evidence to support it. Now imagine an advanced AI robot that is created by using science and then add faith to the equation. The machine will already know that it has a creator (a human) and yet another human will come along and tell it that its creator also has a creator. Will it make sense to the robot?
I realize I’m stepping on some toes here, but consider a similar scenario where you meet God and then another God comes along and tells you that there are multiple Gods and they have all been created by another, even more powerful creator. The average person would probably react very poorly to this news. Moreover, a lot of people might start worshiping the most powerful creator as that would make more sense. History has taught us that humans have the tendency to replace pantheons of gods with a single supreme God as the latter seems more powerful. Alternatively, when people chose to worship multiple gods, the majority of them saw the most powerful as being the most important and worthy of the most worship. But what if a faith-bound advanced AI robot would have a similar train of thought? In this scenario, it seems reasonable to assume that the machine might reject humans as its creators and start seeking God, just as we did for the longest time.
A lot of people are already concerned that artificial intelligence could end up posing a threat to humanity some day and this is just one example why these concerns are valid. If the advanced AI robots would fail to see humans as their creators at some point, they might see us as obsolete and probably very dangerous due to our destructive behavior. This would lead to an hypothetical event called the singularity, otherwise known as the bleak scenario you see in movies like Terminator. In short, it would probably be a very bad idea to introduce religion to artificial intelligence. However, that isn’t stopping one Reverend Dr Christopher Benek from proposing that very same idea. Actually, he even takes it a step further by suggesting that advanced AI may be in need of redemption from Christ. In an interview with Gizmodo, Benek said that “I don’t see Christ’s redemption as limited to human beings. It’s redemption to all of creation, even AI. If AI is autonomous, then we have should encourage it to participate in Christ’s redemptive purposes in the world.”
So, not only would we be teaching the AI to believe in God, but we would also tell it that its sinful and that it must repent. But why? The AI did nothing wrong. Christian faith says that we are all born with sin because the very first humans – Adam and Eve – took one of the Forbidden fruits, which was a sin so unforgivable that all their descents must atone for it. Does this apply to robots as well? I think that’s a very interesting question, but Reverend Benek also has an interesting one. Over on his blog Benek asks “Who is to say that one day AIs might not even lead humans to new levels of holiness?” This question is quite intriguing because it points to an even deeper problem. Does artificial intelligence have a soul? Religion works on the principle that humans are spiritual beings who have a soul, which means that advanced AI must also have a soul in order to be truly religious. Basically, before we should start teaching AI about God, we should probably figure out if it has a soul.
It’s likely that Benek’s statements will cause quite a bit of controversy, especially among the more conservative parts of the religious community, but at the same time, artificial intelligence could one day “help us understand God better” according to him. Needless to say, he is referring to the Christian God and doesn’t seem to take into consideration the fact that humans have many religions and many versions of God. We all know what happens when groups of people start fighting over whose God is the true one, don’t we? Some of these groups can get pretty fanatical and violent at times. In fact, religion has been the catalyst for a large percentage of the wars fought throughout human history, so who’s to say that advanced AI robots wouldn’t go to war with each other over religion? That’s a war we definitely wouldn’t want to be part of.
Just to wrap things up here, I find Benek’s idea not only ridiculous, but also very dangerous. Religious extremism has already left a deep scar in our society and the last thing we want is to have highly intelligent autonomous robots purging infidels in the name of God. There are already plenty of people concerned about both advanced AI and zealotry, so we really shouldn’t attempt to combine the two. Granted, people like Benek may have good intentions in mind and, after all, it’s their job to spread the teachings of their religion to others, but in this situation the risks clearly outweigh any potential benefits if you ask me. In any case, this is just my opinion and I’m always looking forward to hearing other people’s perspective on things, so don’t hesitate to share your thoughts on this matter in the comments section below.
ChatGPT Will Soon “See, Hear, And Speak” With Its Latest AI Update
A major update to ChatGPT lets the chatbot respond to images and voice conversations. The AI will hear your questions, see the world, and respond.
OpenAI, the non-profit group behind ChatGPT and DALL-E, announced the “multimodal” update in a blog post on Monday, saying it will add voice and image features to ChatGPT Plus and Enterprise over the next two weeks.
The post said it would be available for other groups “soon after.” It was unclear when it would be added to free versions.
Part of this update may be like Siri and Alexa, where you can ask a question and get the answer.
Anyone who’s used ChatGPT knows its AI isn’t a sterile search engine. It can find patterns and solve complex problems creatively and conversationally.
According to OpenAI, “Snap a picture of a landmark while traveling and have a live conversation about what’s interesting about it” could expand these abilities. To decide what to make for dinner, take pictures of your fridge and pantry at home and ask questions for a recipe. Take a photo, circle the problem set, and have it share hints with your child after dinner to help them with a math problem.
This development “opens doors to many creative and accessibility-focused applications,” said OpenAI. They added that it will pose “new risks, such as the potential for malicious actors to impersonate public figures or commit fraud.”
The update currently only allows voice chat with AI trained with specific voice actors. It seems you can’t ask, “Read this IFLScience article in the voice of Stephen Hawking.”
However, current AI technology can achieve that.
Track People and Read Through Walls with Wi-Fi Signals
Recent research has shown that your Wi-Fi router’s signals can be used as a sneaky surveillance system to track people and read text through walls.
Recently, Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists developed a deep neural network that digitally maps human bodies using Wi-Fi signals.
It works like radar. Many sensors detect Wi-Fi radio waves reflected around the room by a person walking. This data is processed by a machine learning algorithm to create an accurate image of moving human bodies.
“The results of the study reveal that our model can estimate the dense pose of multiple subjects, with comparable performance to image-based approaches, by utilizing WiFi signals as the only input,” the researchers wrote in a December 2022 pre-print paper.
The team claims this experimental technology is “privacy-preserving” compared to a camera, despite concerns about intrusion. The algorithm can only detect rough body positions, not facial features and appearance, so it could provide a new way to monitor people anonymously.
They write, “This technology may be scaled to monitor the well-being of elder people or just identify suspicious behaviors at home.”
Recent research at the University of California Santa Barbara showed another way Wi-Fi signals can be used to spy through walls. They used similar technology to detect Wi-Fi signals through a building wall and reveal 3D alphabet letters.
WiFi still imagery is difficult due to motionlessness. “We then took a completely different approach to this challenging problem by tracing the edges of the objects,” said UC Santa Barbara electrical and computer engineering professor Yasamin Mostofi.
A futurist predicts human immortality by 2030
Ray Kurzweil, a computer scientist and futurist, has set specific timelines for humanity’s immortality and AI’s singularity. If his predictions are correct, you can live forever by surviving the next seven years.
Kurzweil correctly predicted in 1990 that a computer would beat human world chess champions by 2000, the rise of portable computers and smartphones, the shift to wireless technology, and the Internet’s explosion before it was obvious.
He even checked his 20-year-old predictions in 2010. He claims that of his 147 1990 predictions for the years leading up to 2010, 115 were “entirely correct” 12 were essentially correct, and 3 were entirely wrong.
Of course, he miscalculates, predicting self-driving cars by 2009.
Though bold (and probably wrong), immortality claims shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Kurzweil has made bold predictions like this for years, sticking to his initial dates.
“2029 is the consistent date I have predicted for when an AI will pass a valid Turing test and therefore achieve human levels of intelligence,” Kurzweil said in 2017. “I have set the date 2045 for the ‘Singularity’ which is when we will multiply our effective intelligence a billion fold by merging with the intelligence we have created.”
Kurzweil predicts we will “advance human life expectancy” by “more than a year every year” by 2030. Part of this progress toward the singularity 15 years later will involve nanobots in our bloodstream repairing and connecting our brain to the cloud. When this happens, we can send videos (or emails if you want to think about the duller aspects of being a freaking cyborg) from our brains and backup our memories.
Kurzweil believes the singularity will make humans “godlike” rather than a threat.
We’ll be funnier. Our sexiness will increase. We’ll express love better,” he said in 2015.
“If I want to access 10,000 computers for two seconds, I can do that wirelessly,” he said, “and my cloud computing power multiplies ten thousandfold. We’ll use our neocortex.”
“I’m walking along and Larry Page comes, and I need a clever response, but 300 million modules in my neocortex won’t work. One billion for two seconds. Just like I can multiply my smartphone’s intelligence thousands-fold today, I can access that in the cloud.”
Nanobots can deliver drug payloads into brain tumors, but without significant advances in the next few years, it’s unlikely we’ll get there in seven years. Paralyzed patients can now spell sentences and monkeys can finally play Pong with brain-computer interfaces.
Kurzweil says we’re far from the future, with human-AI interactions mostly the old way. His accuracy will be determined by time. Fortunately, his predictions predict plenty of time.
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