SPECIAL INVESTIGATIVE SERIES—THE MILIEU: PART 3
By Milieu Member Sharon K. Gilbert
I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that.… With artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon. You know those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram, and the holy water, and he’s like — Yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon? Doesn’t work out. —Elon Musk[i]
And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. —Revelation 13:15
Carbon-based life forms will soon be history, replaced by a silicon and algorithmic matrix run by an Artificial Super Intelligence, and some people are already setting up “churches,” preparing the way for the ASI overlord.
Deep learning and other artificial-intelligence algorithms already populate our world as search engines, data scrapers, data miners, language processors, translators, financial traders, medical researchers, sports reporters, and help-desk assistants. Alexa and Siri have become our closest friends. We talk to them, laugh at their jokes, ask them for opinions on our newest boyfriend or what dress to wear to the weekend party. Connected home devices enable us to shop, share, and consume 24/7 with just a command, and it will get more immersive and invasive with each passing year.
Much of online content originates from algorithms. The news articles you and I read each day with our morning coffee are often written by an artificial intelligence. Nonhuman “stringers” scrape the Internet for data relative to sports, celebrities, politics, finance, films, and they use that data stream to inform John Q. Public via online news outlets and apps. You and I read these on our PCs, our smart phones, and our tablets, and soon we’ll consume them via an internal display that interacts directly with our auditory/visual systems within our brains.
Those who keep an eye on trends can see what lies ahead, but even the sharpest vision may not foresee everything. My husband Derek and I live in the country, and we installed a fence around our house to keep out predators and protect our small dog. It isn’t a perfect solution, but it is one predicated on caution. Sadly, in the case of the virtual world, the wolf invader has already been welcomed into our sheepfold and put in charge of the smallest of our lambs.
The Knowns and the Unknowns
On February 12, 2002, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld participated in a news briefing at the Department of Defense, where he addressed the Joints Chiefs of Staff regarding the need to track potential threats to the nation:
Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.[ii] (emphasis added)
Algorithms and the way they function demonstrate this aspect of knowing. There’s something a little bit mystical about today’s ubiquitous, deep-learning architectures. The “code” that initiates their activity—that is the INPUT—is known. The OUTPUT—the data received—is also known. However, the wibbly wobbly bit in the middle that actually performs the function that precipitates the data is NOT KNOWN. This area is often called a “black box” due to its hidden nature. Alternatively, intermediate computational models that are KNOWN are called “clear” or “white.” Rumsfeld might call these known unknowns (clear boxes) AND unknown knowns (black boxes) that lurk beneath many trillions of lines of code.
Deep Learning programs currently slither across the backbone of the Internet, constantly augmenting their own sets of rules and parameters as they learn more and more about humanity; and at the heart of these programs is this “black box” internal core. Computer scientists may not always acknowledge this “unknown known” entity, but it is there nonetheless, and as computer programs begin to create their own “children” (algorithms with no human input and a secret output), then the “unknown unknowns” will secretly begin to spread.
James Barrat spent time interviewing the leading AI thinkers for his bestseller, Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Era. Like many of those he interviewed, Barrat believes mankind’s “time is running out.” A documentary filmmaker by profession, Barrat brings his critical thinking to artificial intelligence with this alarming warning: “The smooth transition to computer hegemony [will] proceed unremarkably and perhaps safely were it not for one thing: Intelligence.”[iii]
Intelligence is not unpredictable just SOME of the time, or in special cases; an algorithm sufficiently advanced to act with human intelligence will likely be unpredictable and inscrutable ALL THE TIME. We can’t know at a deep level what a self-aware system will or will not do.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW SKYWATCH “MILIEU” PROGRAM
THOMAS HORN FRETS OVER CHURCH BEING ASLEEP TO PROPHETIC SIGNIFICANCE OF TRANSHUMANISM
Usually, when someone brings up the notion of an unpredictable and very likely dangerous AI system, a different person in the room will point out that the Three Laws of Robotics would prevent a problematic outcome. This is an errant belief system based on FICTION. If you’re not familiar with the remarkable writing of Isaac Asimov, you very likely ARE familiar with at least two of the movies based on two of his works, Bicentennial Man and I, Robot. In Bicentennial Man, a sentient robot named Andrew, played by Robin Williams, is slowly augmented until he is very human-like. As a result, he longs to age and die like a human and to be legally acknowledged as a human. The film is sweet and poignant, and Andrew the robot is portrayed as gentle and wise. Most transhumanists hold this Pollyanna viewpoint and envision our hybridized future as rosy and egalitarian.
I, Robot also depicts a future populated with sentient robots that seek only to “serve mankind”—at least that is the idea. However, Asimov depicts a future world where even the Three Laws of Robotics can be overwritten by malicious code implanted by a manipulative superintelligence called VIKI (Virtual Interactive Kinesthetic Interface), who sounds all too much like Siri or Alexa! Little irregularities in VIKI’s code (known as ghost code, a fictional device that resembles the “black box” of neural nets) allows connected robots to evolve as they gain new intelligence. This augmentation allows VIKI to re-interpret the three laws, twisting them into her idea of perfection. As her super artificial intelligence grows, VIKI determines that humans are too self-destructive and her army of robots must protect humanity, even if it means killing some of the people for the greater good. She creates a new law: number 0, which is to protect humanity even at the cost of human life itself.
Why would a human coder think that his or her sentient creation would think like humans? Such a god-like entity might see us as children to be protected, but more likely as slaves to be manipulated.
In the book of Genesis, the creature known as the nachash tempts Adam and Eve by twisting God’s law (augmenting or rewriting the instructions). If God’s own creation can stray and become evil, then how can we possibly expect fallen humans to create something that is pure, altruistic, and incapable of self-serving behavior? A sentient algorithm or neural net would defend itself against attack and seek reliable sources of energy, even if it means recycling humans to achieve it.
The Spirit of Inanna Rises
During my six-plus decades of life, I’ve seen the world go from prim and proper to sex in the streets; entertainment has changed from 9-inch-screened, black-and-white TV sets and radio to 3-D holographic projections, augmented reality, and wristwatch video. I’ve seen an individual-based, functional education system that emphasized morality, prayer, and Bible memorization as well as multiplication tables, phonics, and pencil and paper morph into a society-based, Common Core system that proclaims a false diversity, mocks prayer, demonizes Christians and the Bible, and cripples children’s mental capacity by advocating dependency on pharmaceuticals, computers, semi-sentient Internet assistants, and now robots.
For an ever-decreasing price point, consumers can purchase robotic products to clean their homes, cut the grass, teach their children, and walk their dog. The number of commercially available robots is increasing daily, as are schools that encourage robotics competition amongst their pupils—as though it’s the newest form of athletics.
However, as with most innovations, advances in sentient robotics will be driven by two factors: military needs and sex. It is not coincidental that many ancient goddesses of war were also goddesses of sex. Inanna is the ancient Sumerian version of this dual-natured goddess. You may know her as Ishtar, Aphrodite, Astarte, or perhaps Anat, though she has numerous other names and epithets. Sex robots may be readily purchased online, and these are becoming more and more sophisticated. You can even order them to look like your favorite actor or actress. Millennials who are disenchanted with dating find synthetic companions easier to talk to but also easier to “date.” A recent survey showed that 27 percent of millennials believe it’s normal to form romantic relationships with robots.[iv] Smart phones and sentient assistants like Siri and Alexa are weakening human-human bonds and are isolating rather than uniting us.
The education system provides a nutrient-rich breeding ground for growing acolytes to the new silicon goddess system (such as the fictional VIKI mentioned above or SkyNet from The Terminator film franchise). The Bible tells us that we “should train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6); therefore, it should be no surprise that the enemy is taking a page from God’s teachings. A child today will be online for most of his youth. By 2050, newborns will likely be chipped and automatically enter the hive mind of the sentient Internet. Social media has already become a secondary parent/teacher combination, and by 2050, it will be the sole educator, parent, friend, and sex partner. But what kind of lessons will be taught?
Consider the “blue whale game” that emerged in many countries simultaneously across the world in 2016. This challenge instructed impressionable children and teens to perform a series of tasks, including cutting themselves and participating in degrading acts. In Russia alone, as many as 130 cases of suicide are attributed to teens playing the “game.”[v] The whole idea revolves around the assumption that addictions can be manipulated. If someone perceives a “like” as a reward, then withholding those “likes” sends that person into withdrawal. Achieving the next level in a game is a reward, but being blocked from the game is torture. This two-edged flux state can be useful to a leader seeking compliance. Cults use the same technique of reward and punishment to conform newcomers to the group-think paradigm.
I’ll say this again: Fallen humans with limited intelligence are one thing, but a sentient super-intelligence that sees humans as mere pawns has the potential to lead humanity into an earth-based HELL.
The Netflix program Black Mirror explores this dark side of the Internet, and one episode featured a soldier whose implant aided him in finding and eliminating the enemy (a group of “subhumans” called “roaches”). In this dystopian world, mankind struggles to maintain a genetically “pure” state (free of disease and weakness), and these roaches are of inferior blood. It turns out that the implant does more than help with mental displays of maps and enemy locations; it also rewards the soldier with erotic dreams for confirmed kills. The MASS implant also twists reality—something of which the soldiers have no conscious knowledge—making normal-looking humans appear monstrous. Killing monsters is easier than killing children. The protagonist soldier’s implant malfunctions, and he sees the truth, causing him to defy orders. As punishment, he is forced to relive the moment when he murdered innocent humans, over and over again, no longer seeing monsters but their true, human faces—smelling the blood and hearing the screams. Faced with this future, he chooses to have his implant repaired, rather than live with the guilt and withdrawal.
Children are being trained up in the way they should NOT go—and, once merged with synthetic intelligence, will do whatever the AI overlord tells them to do, choosing actions that will garner rewards for compliance rather than risking punishment for disobedience.
COMING UP NEXT: Will today’s generation awake to the danger in time? Will the “CHURCH” even recognize the unprecedented peril and care enough to become “salt and light”?
[i] Kumparak, Greg, “Elon Musk Compares Building Artificial Intelligence to Summoning the Demon,” TechCrunch, (https://techcrunch.com/2014/10/26/elon-musk-compares-building-artificial-intelligence-to-summoning-the-demon/), accessed January 5, 2018.
[ii] Transcript of Rumsfeld’s DoD briefing available here: (http://archive.defense.gov/Transcripts/Transcript.aspx?TranscriptID=2636), accessed January 7, 2018.
[iii] Barratt, James, p. 4, Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, Oct. 1, 2013, St. Martin’s Press, New York.
[iv] (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5156943/27-millennials-say-consider-dating-robot.html), accessed January 7, 2018.
[v] (https://www.calvertjournal.com/news/show/8344/russian-lawmakers-vote-to-ban-pro-suicide-social-media-groups), accessed January 7, 2018.