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Thinking of computers in a traditional manner, the very idea of an “anti-Christian computer seems rather strange. After all, it’s just a machine, right? And machines don’t have a will or the capacity for self-conscious thought that would allow them to be for or against anything.
But that was then and this is now. With the advent of AI (artificial intelligence), it seems that computers can do things they could not do in past times. In fact, there are actually people who work in the AI field who believe computers have already achieved sentience.
Well, just what is AI? Here is how IBM defines it: Artificial intelligence leverages computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind.
For all the hype, though, these AI programs cannot actually think for themselves as they are non-living machines. However, AI computers can be programmed in such a way as to be able to search for answers, accumulate those answers into an increasingly broad knowledge base, then use that knowledge to increase its ability to solve ever more complex problems. It is already being used in medicine, transportation, robotics, science, education, the military, surveillance, finance, agriculture, entertainment, retail, customer service, and manufacturing (and it is continually being applied in new areas). Perhaps the most talked about application these days are the chatbots, like ChatGPT, that use natural language processing to have actual conversations with people. These chatbots are capable of responding to questions and even composing articles, social media posts, essays, computer code, and e-mails.
And how about this new application of the technology? In a recent poll, New Yorkers were asked whether or not they would allow an artificial intelligence-based program to set them up on a date. Ostensibly, a person would tell the AI program about him or herself, then the program would find them a date who is supposedly compatible.
There is no doubt that with the increasing power of computers and sophistication of computer programs, these machines are able to do things previously considered unimaginable. They already do many things far better than human beings. And with AI added into the mix, this ability to outdo humans in various areas is going to increase exponentially. But in spite of everything, no computer program, including the most sophisticated AI programs, are any better than their programmers.
For instance, in an attempt to keep these programs from doing things that will harm human individuals or cause social or military damage, programmers are writing in limitations to what the programs are able to do. For example, there are some AI programs that are not being allowed to provide information about how to make a bomb, or use certain vocabulary that is considered bigoted or discriminatory. But how does the program know? The truth is, it can only know to do that if the programmer puts in code that sets the parameters. In other words, the values of the computer are a direct expression of the values of the programmer. Because of that, different AI programs will, no doubt, have entirely different possibilities.
Even at this early stage of development, this is being played out in some quite fascinating ways. Some programs written by politically liberal programmers make sure that the output uses politically correct language and suggests politically correct actions. One written by a Christian allows for Christian worldview results. And we can certainly imagine that there are programs, even now, being written by totalitarian state actors that will allow for the raining down of death and destruction under certain conditions.
So, are we looking at a scenario where there are, or will be, anti-Christian computers? Well, the actual answer is, “NO!” Computers are only machines, and machines are not capable of being pro or anti Christian. However, it is certainly possible, and is already happening, that computer programs that express anti-Christian content will be around as people who are anti-Christian write them. There are already programs in some totalitarian countries that spy on their people and crack down on those who don’t tow the ideological line – including anti-Christian directives. Under the right (or wrong) circumstances, it is certainly conceivable for that kind of oppression to come to America. In fact, we got a little taste of it already during COVID.
The truth is, I don’t care how advanced computers become, they will still never have a self will. They will always be subject to the limitations written into them by those who write the programs. It is those people that we need to keep our eyes on. All the more reason to make sure that we are continually advancing a biblical worldview and sharing Christ with those who work in that arena.
Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books entitled The Truth Mirage, Rules for Christians Radicals, Liberalism vs. Conservatism, and his latest book Shattering the Truth Mirage and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.
You may also contact Freddy at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule him for speaking or leadership engagements.
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