In 1948, mathematician John Von Neumann theorized the potential existence of a kind of computational machine which would evolve at such a pace as to soon be capable of replicating itself in an exponential mode of systemic upgrade. He postulated that with each new 'replica' of itself, there would be improvements made upon the previous version, and so on, much like we employ in computer science and the creation of hardware and software systems today. This came to be the basis of what we now refer to as “Artificial Intelligence” or more tersely as “AI.” Further, it forms the basis for the portentous idea that there may come a point in human history where the things that we have created, specifically machines, could someday surpass our ability to control them and may thus lead us into a kind of an AI Apocalypse or Armageddon. While I do not personally follow this line of thought, and do not believe that a created thing could ever surpass the limitations inherent in or programmed by its creator, there may be some Scriptural precedent or hinting at this kind of eschatological course of events. In Revelation 14-16 we read: “Because of the signs it was given to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived those who dwell on the earth, telling them to make an image to the beast that had been wounded by the sword and yet had lived. The second beast was permitted to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship it to be killed. And the second beast required all people small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their forehead.” Therefore, it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility that the 'end times' could in some way involve some type of artificial intelligence or machines. After all, idols all throughout the ignominious evolution (or devolution?) of human endeavours have assumed many variant forms, and have been crafted from many variant earthly minerals and materiel, thus, why not an idol fashioned of gold, copper, magnesium, iron, zinc, cobalt, nickel and silicon? Indeed, many individuals believe that we are already living in that age as we speak, due to the increasing prevalence and domination of such technology in our modern lives.
Thus the questions which arise are: Can the created ever surpass that of its Creator? As stated before, it seems self-evident to me, from a strictly logistical and, indeed, even from a philosophical/existential standpoint, that Artificial Intelligence ever dominating intellectually or functionally over human beings is perhaps possible but highly unlikely. And as first observed by Ada Lovelace, who is credited by most computer scientists as being the first computer programmer, we humans are the ideologues over such inventions and therefore must also be the immediately assumed lords over them. Furthermore, much like many believe that humankind was created in the image of a sovereign Deity, computers and the technological accouterments which both encompass and aid them, were fashioned in our human image. However, the ontological antinomy of the latter statement is this: We may have been fashioned in the image of our Creator, or as traducianists believe, merely in the image of our genetic human ancestors, but we cannot, as in the former credo, become such a sovereign Deity ourselves, lest the fulfillment of this verity of ontological equality completely negate the concept of such a Being in and of itself. Nevertheless, AI will continue to be made within the human imago of course. However, while I do not believe that machines or AI could ever insidiously or maliciously dominate over humankind, as any invention by natural extension must possess the limitation inherent in that of its Creator, certain human beings are as we speak are exerting their influence over advanced technology to suit their evil agendas. Thus, if AI ever does 'take over' humankind, human beings will undoubtedly be at the helm of said 'machinations'.
And yet we must expect that the questions will persist and that not every human soul will remain at rest in the face of Reason and sound Theology. Many will continue to inquire: Can a human being manufacture or implant a "soul" into a machine? What is the soul or a soul if "it"exists at all? But most of all: What is the essence of that which makes us human, and could an electronic entity ever become incarnate with such an essence? For if a human being could create a cyborg completely in that of its own image, could it ever really possess total human status? And if so, wouldn't this then change the very ontological status of this electro-mechanical entity possessing so-called "artificial intelligence" into one possessing authentic human intelligence & sentience? And last but certainly not least, from the epistemological standpoint, is there an inherent demarcation built into the design of our humanity which limits our knowledgeability & creative, industrial potential? For if there is not such a limit inherently imposed upon the human species, and a human being(s) could create a perfect facsimile of itself crafted from metal, minerals and silicon then perhaps this is the “new body” into which we will be changed, "in the twinkling of an eye" into the immaculate imago of our Creator someday? These are all very valid enquiries, most of which may or may not find their edification in this current epoch. Until then, keeping an open-ended discussion related to all issues pertinent to our species and the human condition is key to each our continued industrious, intellectual and spiritual edification process & actualization.
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