Wade's Weekly Word

A butterfly is one of God’s most beautiful and amazing creations. It starts as a caterpillar and later goes into a cocoon where an amazing metamorphosis occurs. This takes time but eventually wings are formed. Next the butterfly struggles and struggles to get the wings stronger and stronger until it breaks out of the cocoon and flies away. A human can short circuit this process and make it much easier to escape by simply cutting open the cocoon to release it. If this happens, it will NEVER be able to fly! This difficult, time-consuming process had a purpose. The struggle to break free would have caused the muscles of the wings to strengthen so that when it did emerge they would be strong enough to allow the insect to fly. The “easy” road is often not the best one! Matthew 7, verses 7 & 8, teaches us to ask, seek & knock. Verse 14 says that “...the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Verses 24-27 speak of building your house on the rock instead of the sand. It takes time, preparation and hard work to have a firm foundation, but anyone can take the easy way and just build on top of the ground. The end result of the latter is disastrous!

“Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor.” (Proverbs 12:24) “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.” (Proverbs 10:4) “Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.” (Proverbs 2:29)

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is a very powerful new tool that can pool models of human knowledge to quickly give answers, improve the quality of pictures, videos, write papers, summarize books, write software, and help humans do things much more quickly than before. Like all tools made by sinful man, it can be used for good or evil.

I can see great potential dangers. Perhaps, if you are older, you will remember that the math teachers wouldn’t let students use a calculator to work certain problems until they first learned how to do it the hard way-by hand. That seemed ridiculous because “I can just punch it into the calculator” and get the answer without thinking. Later came the Internet and search engines. There used to be a myriad of them. Now we mainly have a few large ones and many of the others are actually fed by those. People now say, “just google it,” or ask Google. People ask their phones for all sorts of information and it is very handy. In recent years it has become apparent to me that having a few sources of information opens the doors to censorship of information such that a biased company could bury anything they don’t want you to see so that you get filtered information. Numbers can be inflated to influence people. Worse than all of this, people are becoming more and more ignorant, less logical and less able to do critical thinking. Who needs to know how to read a map or navigate by landmarks and signs if the phone will tell you how? The more this goes on, the dumber people get because just like some of my sagging muscles, that used to be firm and on the top side, you either use it or lose it. People in nursing homes that work crossword puzzles, for example, seem to stay more mentally fit than those that do nothing to use their minds.

AI is the next big step. You can ask it to:

  • Write an essay about the early childhood of George Washington and it will spit out everything. You can then say, “make it more comical,” and it will rewrite it.

  • Write some legal document concerning topic X that includes references to cases and precedents.

  • Write a three point sermon, starting with a clean bible joke, dealing with the subject of forgiveness, and it will write it as a pastor might deliver it!

  • There are AI programs that can take a still photo and turn it into a moving talking believable picture saying anything in the voice of that person as long as you have a few seconds of audio of their voices.

  • There are graphical AI programs where you could say, “create an image of the heavens with a portal to another world surrounded by rainbows, with angels coming out of it.” And it will generate the image.

What is the danger of this? It becomes hard to know what is true and real. Students no longer have to work, reason, think, dig, research, or use their brains to do any of it. Like the student that punches in some numbers and gets a result that isn’t even mathematically reasonable, they may ask AI to write something and it may invent some things and just like the 2002 movie, Time Machine, based upon a story by H. G. Wells, the people became so ignorant that they knew nothing and had to ask the hologram in the library about everything. They finally became two separate groups of people, one a senseless group of young, beautiful pleasure-seekers who did no work and merely played and enjoyed the first bit of their lives, but were later culled by the underground group that captured the older ones, then killed and ate them! Even now many young people have no idea how to drive anywhere without their phones telling them every step. They aren’t exercising their God-given creative talents in musical instruments, writing, art and so forth because they can take the easy road. Being imaginative and creative is part of being made in the image of God and this is under attack. Many young people don’t know our history and will believe anything when they are fed lies and propaganda.

In Computer Science, programmers must think logically and come up with algorithms and code in order to solve problems. It is an art form. If AI suddenly spits out a program for programmers, eventually those doing it will just ask the computer and the ability of this art form will be lost. As a programmer, there is a lot of boilerplate, boring, repetitive stuff that I must come up with for the average program. Knowing how to do it by hand and then being able to have AI lay out the basics for me would be a great time saver. I could then take the work generated and go from there. Not having worked to gain this discipline, however, may lead to undeveloped areas of the brain, terribly sloppy, bloated software, and people who have no idea why it just isn’t working properly!

I grew up in a time when you used maps, road signs and landmarks in order to travel the road. You had to sit down and plan the route, have some idea of the major cities you would pass through, basic directions, and make adjustments by seeing the distances between each point along the way to determine the route you wanted to take. I find that the more I use the GPS the less proficient I become at doing this the old way because I do not have to think. Admittedly, it is very convenient to be directed, reminded and to not have to look down while driving.

James 1 says that trials and testing, the hard stuff, produce perseverance. Romans 5 tells us that suffering produces perseverance which leads to character and then hope. Sometimes the journey, the digging, the disappointments and discoveries develop many things in us along the way that are short-circuited if we are just given the solution without any work, struggle, sweat, tears, research, musing, reasoning, debating, experimenting and experiencing. John 8:32 says, “...you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Imagine a world where books and bibles are gone and the only copies of the Bible left are electronic, or you have to ask the AI what it says. If you do not know the real truth of the word, you could easily be deceived by a lying AI. Part of the word could be changed or hidden from you. These are just some of the dangers of this amazing tool.

Should we use AI to save time? Maybe, but only after we know how to do things the hard way, and only if we check the information to make sure it is so. The Bereans didn’t even accept Paul’s teaching without going home to verify it. We should be no less wise than they. Matthew 10:16 instructs us to “...be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Ephesians 4:14 teaches that we should mature and not be “...carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” Proverbs 21:25 says “The desire of the lazy kills him, For his hands refuse to labor;” I suggest keeping your skills sharp by doing things the hard way at first until you really understand how and have exercised your mind. Then if it all hits the fan one day electronically, you will still be able to operate. If you study the printed word well, you will know if the electronic version has been deviously modified.

Write a Comment

Comments for this post have been disabled.