The media thrives on exaggerations and misrepresentations involving doomsday scenarios. One of the biggest movies when I was a teenager was titled “When Worlds Collide.” It was a science fiction story of a rogue star and its planet hitting and destroying the Earth with only a select group of humans escaping. A recent popular movie was built around the scientists developing an atomic bomb while fearing it would destroy the Earth. Several media presentations have suggested that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will wipe out humanity. Media outlets like The Guardian, The New York Post, Entrepreneur, and the BBC have all indicated that AI is a huge threat to humanity.
Artificial Intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes by computer systems. Science fiction has long postulated that machines will replace humans and rule the world. Many science fiction stories revolve around non-human enemies of humanity or heroes such as R2-d2 and C-3po. What can computers do or not do? Is it true that AI is a huge threat to humanity?
AI can do some jobs faster and with greater accuracy than humans. Computers can build and run automation systems, causing the loss of human jobs. Computers can process languages more quickly than humans. They can also process numbers faster and more accurately, meaning that AI can predict economic change, develop weaponry, and invade human privacy quickly and efficiently. AI can create images, both authentic and false, and even produce videos known as deepfakes. AI can deliver fake news with video support that is so good humans can’t tell what is real and what is fake.
As we consider whether AI Is a huge threat to humanity, we must understand that the dangers are philosophical and not inevitable. There is an adage about computers that says, “garbage equals garbage out.” Building computers capable of producing AI requires intelligence and design by humans. Like almost everything humans create, we can use AI to mislead and damage or to improve people’s lives. As in everything else, we desperately need people guided by the teachings of Jesus to make the decisions about how we will use AI.
— John N. Clayton © 2023
Reference: “Approximating Reality” in American Scientist magazine for July/August 2023