I was recently asked by the saints at the Cold Composure about my thoughts on artificial intelligence. Rather than type a lengthy comment on Facebook, I decided to blog about it instead (which ironically often causes more problems).
My initial reaction is that artificial intelligence will never be a match for natural stupidity. We can teach computers to be smart, but we can’t teach them to be stupid. If they make a mistake, it’s because we inaccurately simulated intelligence in their design. So there’s that limit.
We also have to look at the relationship of a creator to his creation. God cannot create something greater than himself, because he is the most powerful thing there is, by definition. Does that mean that man can create something greater than himself? Without that concept, we certainly wouldn’t have any sci-fi. Will we be able to simulate human intelligence? Not accurately, and not soon, if ever.
We can, however, make machines that learn, and machines that “think.” Is this the same as AI? Depends on your definition.
Cordwainer Smith solved the problem of AI in his sci-fi in the following way. Any computer/machine/robot required to have a human-par or greater intelligence was “imprinted” with an actual person’s mind. This gave the machine all the cognitive powers of a human. But is that artificial? Or is it a natural intelligence?
Many people warn of the dangers of “playing God,” present company included. C. S. Lewis was very vocal about it, in the Abolition of Man. However, I believe that it is not possible for Man to actually play God, or perform an action thought to be specific to God. There are many things that we cannot conceive of that still do not fall into this category. These things are what I would call future technology. But there are things we will never be able to to do. We can never create ex nihilo. We cannot forgive sins in se. We cannot destroy a soul. We cannot save ourselves.
Whoa, whoa. Now I’m getting into the spiritual side of things, that wasn’t the question. But remember, there are no “sides,” it’s all the same thing, and if you think differently, you’re wrong.
So there are things we’ll never be able to do. I think that human cloning is one of those. We’ve cloned animals already. We’ll continue to do so and probably get really good at it. But we will never be able to breathe Spirit-life into the nostrils of a human being that we have created. We’ve got limitations because we’re human and we’re not God.
In light of that, I would say in conclusion that we will never be able to design a system that is self-aware in the same way that we are self-aware. No doubt technologies lie around the corner that we can’t even hint at. But being God is not one of them.
I hope that answered your question. Discussion is welcome.