The moving wisdom of a funeral director: 9-20-17
Is there a new hope for Middle East peace? 9-22-17

Why we should monitor artificial intelligence: 9-21-17

A little over a month ago here on the blog, I wrote about where artificial intelligence (A.I.) might lead us and what issues it raises for people of faith.

Artificial-IntelligenceI return to A.I. today to share with you this piece, which urges all of us to understand what is at stake and to prepare for what's almost inevitably coming.

The author of the article writes this: "In this revolution, machines will be able to duplicate the tasks they previously could not: those that require intellectual reasoning and fine grained motor skills. Because of this, it is possible that emotional labor will remain the last bastion of skills that machines cannot replicate at a human level and is one of the reasons I have argued that medical schools should transition to emphasizing and teaching interpersonal and emotional skills instead of Hippocratic reasoning."

Each of us is unique. Religion teaches us that each of us is of inestimable value. Different religions explain why that is so in different ways. Christianity, for instance, says the reason is that we are created by a God who loves us individually and that we have a destiny set by divine purpose.

A.I. may turn out to be useful in all kinds of ways, in effect freeing humans to concentrate more on interpersonal relations and what religion calls pastoral care.

But if A.I. somehow winds up undermining the idea of human uniqueness and human value, we must resist at least that aspect of it. This, of course, will require that A.I. development be closely monitored, especially by people with good moral centers who understand what threatens and what strengthens humanity and the common good.

Is such monitoring being done today on a broad enough scale? If so, I don't know about it. Do you? Let's find out and make sure that five, 10 or 30 years from how we don't wind up with a technology that will dehumanize all of us.

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Speaking of artificial intelligence, if David Meade is right, the world will end Saturday, so if your mortgage is due that day, just keep the money. Of course, every previous date-setter has been wrong, which suggests you might not want to put too much stock in this prediction. But the planet would be a less-interesting place without misguided doomsday predictors -- and the rest of us who get to laugh at them.


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