Alan Turing & The Myth of Artificial Intelligence (illustrated), Part 1

Is AI going to take over humanity? 

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     In today’s episode, let us see this question. Is AI going to take over humanity?   The brouhaha over Artificial intelligence is all over the place. Is AI going to conquer humanity? Is it going to turn us into its slaves? Is it going to make God unnecessary in our lives? Such questions are posed by many individuals. Israeli author Yuval Noah Harari wrote a book entitled Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. In this book, Mr.Harari talks about human beings conquering the world, giving meaning to the world and attaining God-like status. As I watch the news, I see Israelis running for their lives to save themselves from Hamas terrorists. So much for God-like powers! Open your windows and take a look outside, Professor Harari. Then you can brag about God-like status. 

     Professor Harari goes on to say that human beings lose control to supercomputers. He is not alone. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Google CEO Sundar Pichai…they all talk about the dangers posed by AI to human civilization on this planet. Is this all for real or just hype? Is artificial intelligence real? Can it dominate human beings? 

    The phrase Artificial Intelligence was coined by computer scientist John McCarthy in 1956. Over the decades, computer chips entered into almost every gadget we use. Today, AI is assisting authors to write their essays. It is helping journalists to write news stories. It is helping doctors to diagnose diseases. It is helping surgeons to perform surgeries. It is helping engineers to build bridges, politicians to engineer elections, accountants to prepare tax forms, and astronomers to send space probes. We should appreciate this progress. But it is important to recognize that there are many things the machines will never be able to do like humans. 

Darwinism gave us Materialism 

  The Bible informs us that God created human beings in a very special way. Let us read Genesis 1:26. 

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion….over all the earth. Genesis 1:26

     Note those words. God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over all the earth. This is the unique privilege God gave to humanity. God created the universe and everything in it. He created man as the crown of His creation. He gave dominion to man. That is God’s design. No animal, no plant, no supercomputer, no robot, no AI would ever take away this dominion from human beings. 

  How did we come to this stage where we consider the possibility of being taken over by AI? The credit goes to materialism. Charles Darwin wrote his famous book On the Origin of Species in 1859. In this book, Darwin proposed that populations evolve over the course of generations through a process of natural selection. In this theory, life can arise from non-living material and then evolve from simple organisms to complex organisms. Four years later, in 1863, author Samuel Butler wrote a book entitled Darwin among the machines

    Darwin among the machines….The idea is just like living organisms evolve, machines also evolve over generations. They come to function like human beings. They compete with human beings. Finally, they enslave human beings.    Samuel Butler’s ideology took over the scientific community. If the human mind could evolve from matter, why can’t we transform matter  into something like the human mind or into something even better than the human mind? 

     In the Bible, we have a divinely ordained apocalypse for humanity. Read the Book of Revelation and it is God who will bring human civilization to an end. Being godless, Darwinism has created its own apocalypse in which supercomputers become the terminators of human civilization.  The evolutionists like Alan Turing made some prophecies concerning these machines. 

      But we should remember that God ordained only one apocalypse for humanity. God will oversee the end of human history. Satan will use man’s best inventions to further his demonic causes. Anti Christ himself will use artificial intelligence to enslave human beings. But Lord Jesus Christ will return to this world as King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Ruling from Jerusalem, He will establish his kingdom in this world. That is how human history will end. No army of supercomputers, no army of AI machines can change this divine plan. 

    So, what is behind his hype around AI? It is Darwinism. It is materialism. Materialism says only materialistic things are real. There is no God, no Satan, no angels, no hell and no heaven. As Carl Sagan said, nature was, nature is and nature will be. This materialism laid the foundations of the AI apocalypse. But remember God is in control and Jesus Christ is the king and center of all human history. 

What is Intelligence? 

          First, we should ask ourselves. Can machines possess intelligence? What is intelligence? If you pose that question to a hundred individuals, you will get a hundred different answers. Let me give you my own definition of intelligence. 

“Intelligence is conscious, ethical, rational, emotional,intentional, thoughtful, vocal, personal, memorable, creative, teleological, metaphysical, cosmic, and wholesome self-awareness”. 

   I agree it is a long definition. But if you take time to understand it, it will unpack many beautiful truths about the human mind. Let us start with consciousness. 

Intelligence is Conscious

       Intelligence is conscious. Consciousness is hard to define but easy to experience and understand. Calculators do a great job in mathematical functions but they are not intelligent because they do not have consciousness. Consciousness is a unique gift of God to human beings. Stars, planets, mountains, valleys, trees, animals and birds…they do not have consciousness. Computers do not have a consciousness. AI is no different. It cannot possess consciousness. In science fiction movies, consciousness is thrown around carelessly. But consciousness is unique only to human beings. 

Intelligence is Ethical 

    Intelligence is not morally neutral. It has an ethical compass to it. The Bible says,

The requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them. Romans 2:15 

   The natural moral law is written on our hearts. Our intelligence is influenced by this moral law. It interacts with this moral law. Our consciousness bears witness to this interaction. As we go through the day, sometimes it defends our thoughts and actions and sometimes it accuses our thoughts and actions. Sometimes it says, ‘you are good’. Sometimes it says, ‘you’re bad’. Intelligence goes through these silent ethical battles. This is unique to human intelligence. Animals, robots and computers do not possess this ethical nature. 

Intelligence is Rational 

     Another characteristic of intelligence is rationality. We say, ‘be reasonable’ or ‘exercise your reason’, ‘think logically’ etc. Rationality is a gift of God to human beings. Human beings invented computers based on logical operations. But the computer itself cannot exercise logic like human beings. 

    Alan Turing was born in London in 1912. His father was a British civil servant in India. He was a precocious child. He was consumed by his interest in mathematics and machine intelligence. He outlined a ‘universal computing machine’ in his 1936 paper “On Computable Numbers’. This came to be known as the Turing machine. 

  Turing’s Code Breaking genius changed the course of the Second World War. Turing gained his PhD at Princeton University. He was approached by the British government in 1938 to assist in Nazi code breaking. The Germans were using an encryption device known as Enigma. It was highly sophisticated for that age. Germans boasted that the Enigma code was unbreakable. 

    Turing joined a group of mathematicians at Bletchley Park, top-secret home of the World War Two Codebreakers. He realized that to break into the unbreakable Enigma machine, he had to build a computer that was capable of replicating 60 Enigma machines to crack the 150 quintillion combinations of Enigma. A quintillion is a billion billion, 1 followed by 18 zeros. Turing imagined that and achieved it. Turing and his team were able to decipher 3000 German military messages a day. 

     Historians credit Turing with taking 2 years off the duration of World War II, saving more than 14 million lives. That’s the power of mathematics. One man’s genius helped reduce the duration of a World War. 

    Turing made a difference in the lives of millions of people. So far so good. Then, Turing made a leap into machine intelligence. He anticipated a day when machines rival human intelligence. He ignored important developments in mathematics which deny that possibility. 

   What are those developments? We should talk about two great thinkers: Bertrand Russell and Kurt Godel. Bertrand Russell was a British mathematician and logician (1872-1970). Russell contended that if a mathematical statement is true it could be proved. But proof must occur within a system. Russel and his former teacher Alfred North Whitehead took upon themselves to construct all mathematics on logical foundations. 

    Kurt Godel (1906-1978) was a mathematician, logician and philosopher. Godel opposed the logical approach of British philosopher Bertrand Russell.  He showed that this massive project was a failure. He determined a method for mapping true sentences about mathematics onto true equations and false sentences onto false equations. He showed that there would be some truths of mathematics that are unprovable. No mathematical system could contain all truths and only truths. No mathematical system could be both complete and sound. Logic was not enough to justify mathematical truth. This came to be known as Godel’s incompleteness theorem. 

    Alan Turing was inspired by Godel’s method of mapping sentences into mathematical equations. He wanted to mix Godel’s method with computing machines. He was quite successful. Indeed, you can create machines that can read and solve mathematical equations. But the central thesis of Godel was lost on Turing. Godel showed us mathematics and logic cannot be complete systems.  So, according to Godel’s incompleteness theorem, computers cannot be complete systems because they work based on logic. Human beings use logic as one of the many tools they need to survive. This is not possible in the case of computers. 

Intelligence is Emotional 

     Another characteristic of intelligence is emotions. We are emotional beings. Every moment of our lives is infused with emotions. Love, joy, peace, anger, hate, jealousy, despair, loneliness, sadness, hopelessness, compassion, satisfaction – these emotions enrich our lives and give meaning to our existence. Computers and AI do not possess these emotions. 

   Gary Kasparov was a world famous chess master. In 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer defeated Kasparov in a chess game. But Deep Blue would not take any pleasure in defeating Kasparov. Similarly, in 2016, Google’s Deep Mind’s AlphaGo computer defeated Lee Sedol in a Chinese game called ‘Go’. AlphaGo does not enjoy its victories. It never gets joy from its victories, nor sadness from its defeats. 

    In a Star Trek movie, I heard Dr.Spock saying these words, “as Admiral Pike was dying, I joined with his consciousness and experienced what he felt at the moment of his passing. Anger. Confusion. Loneliness. Fear.” But that’s all baloney. No robot feels anger or confusion or loneliness or fear. 

   At Yale University, Donya Quick made an AI program that can emulate Bach. This program is called Kulitta. It may produce lots of music that sounds like Bach, but it does not enjoy Bach even for a moment. AI can read the news of a tragedy to you. You might shed a tear for the loss of life but AI does not feel any of your pain. 

   AI looks emotional in movies. In the movie Ex Machina, robot Ava tells Caleb, ‘this is what I’d wear on our date’. Yah, you can make a robot that takes you on a date but it won’t feel any excitement of meeting you. MIT computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum (1923-2008) created a computer program named ELIZA that can simulate a psychologist. It can ask you a lot of questions about your mental health but it won’t sympathize with you in any of your mental health problems. AI can assist in surgeries on patients. But it won’t care whether the patient survives or dies. 

    Emotions are an integral part of intelligence. Because AI cannot have an emotional life, they should not be called intelligent. 

Intelligence is Intentional 

     Another characteristic of intelligence is intentionality. We assume feelings and emotions are the same thing. But philosopher Anthony Kenny makes a distinction between feelings and emotions.  He says that the difference between feelings and sensations is intentionality. Feelings and sensations come from physiological changes in the body. They do not have intentionality. On the other hand, emotions have intentionality. If you are angry at someone, it was your intention. If you love someone, it was your intention. Computers and AI have no intention. Why are self-driving cars not going anywhere? It boils down to intentionality. Computers simply follow our commands. They don’t have intentionality. 

Intelligence is Thoughtful 

   Another characteristic of intelligence is thinking. Human beings do think. When we think, we bring together different aspects of life. Without any effort, our conscious, ethical, rational and emotional aspects of life come together to form our thoughts. No two people think alike. This is not true for computers and AI. 

    That is why philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein said that it’s a category mistake to speak of machines as thinking. Even if you put a neural feedback system inside a computer akin to human neural connections, you can’t make it think like humans. Wittgenstein said,  “Could a machine think? – Could it be in pain? – Well, is the human body to be called such a machine? It surely comes as close as possible to being such a machine. But a machine surely cannot think!” Even the wisdom of Wittgenstein was lost on Turing and his followers. 

Intelligence is Vocal 

  Next, intelligence is Vocal. Human beings can put their thoughts to speech. When we speak, we take our conscious, ethical, rational, and emotional thoughts and give them a voice. Computers and AI cannot speak like human beings. I am not talking about artificial speech like text-to-speech sort of things. I am talking about the Turing Test. Turing Test says, if you speak into a dark room, a computer engages in a conversation with you and you never realized you were talking to a computer. It has been 80 years since Turing conceived this test and no computer passed this test. When you receive a robot call, even a little boy can tell you that it is a robot call, not a real human voice. 

Intelligence is Personal 

   Next, intelligence is personal. You will meet thousands of individuals as you live your life. You make friends with only a few individuals. You share your personal life with a very few individuals. You feel reluctant to share your personal information with strangers. Computers and AI cannot do that. Anyone with your password can use your AI. They don’t care whether it is you or someone else. They cannot be personal. 

Intelligence is Memorable 

   Next, intelligence is memorable. It is not just memory. So many things register in our brains as memories. We regurgitate these memories. Some memories give us joy. Some memories leave a bad taste in our mouth. Some memories frighten us. Computers and AI cannot do that. They may store terabytes of photos and videos in their drives. They don’t pull any of them for pleasure or for pain. They treat all their stored files alike. 

    So, Intelligence is conscious, ethical, rational, emotional, intentional, thoughtful, vocal, personal, memorable, creative, teleological, metaphysical, cosmic, and wholesome self-awareness. 

     There are few more things I would like to tell you about intelligence. Join me next week to complete this discussion. You see, intelligence is a gift of God to humanity. As the psalmist said, Human beings are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ (Psalm 139:14). Fearfully and wonderfully made….God said that only about the creation of human beings. We cannot compete with God to create something as intelligent as human intelligence. Nothing – no supercomputer, no robot, no AI – can ever conquer human beings. It is foolish to think that we can become God-like  or we become slaves to machines. 

    We should humbly accept that human intelligence is a God’s great creation, possible only by God’s great wisdom. We should come to Lord Jesus Christ, accept that we are sinners and receive Him as our Lord and Savior. 

To be continued in Part 2

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