The Rev. Franklin Graham has a warning for Big Tech that dates from centuries before the first keystroke.
“Silicon Valley and the big tech companies are working on Artificial Intelligence, and some believe AI can one day answer all of the questions of life,” Graham posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday along with a link to an essay from The New York Times magazine with the provocative title, “Can Silicon Valley Find God?”
“I’ve got news for them,” he said. “The Creator of life, the Giver of life, the Sustainer of life, the One with all the answers is Almighty God.”
Graham said the Old Testament has a message for those who think they can be as powerful as God.
“This reminds me of the Tower of Babel, in the Old Testament, when men got together and thought they could build a tower to reach Heaven,” he wrote. “They believed they could attain this by their own work and ingenuity. But God sent confusion upon them and confounded their efforts.
“He certainly could do the same today if He desired.”
Graham closed with words from Paul’s letter to the Romans.
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” he wrote, citing Romans 11:33-34.
In the essay, Linda Kinstler, described as “a doctoral candidate in rhetoric,” wrote that artificial intelligence is “invoked all too often as an otherworldly, almost godlike invention, rather than the product of an iterative series of mathematical equations.”
She quoted Paul Taylor, a former Oracle manager who is a pastor at the Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, California, on his thoughts when he used voice-activated controls to turn lights off and on.
“I realized at one point that what I was doing was calling forth light and darkness with the power of my voice, which is God’s first spoken command — ‘let there be light’ and there was light — and now I’m able to do that,” Taylor said.
“Is that a good thing? Is that a bad thing? Is it completely neutral? I don’t know. It’s certainly convenient and I certainly appreciate it, but is it affecting my soul at all, the fact that I’m able to do this thing that previously only God could do?” he said.
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) July 16, 2021
The essay included a comment from Robert Geraci, a religious scholar, concerning the gaps in how artificial intelligence is developed.
“Our government is currently poised to start pouring a bunch of extra money into A.I.,” he said. “Why is it that people who understand culture, literature, art and religion are not part of the conversation about what we want to build and how we are going to build it?”
“There’s cautionary stuff here for me,” AI researcher Shanen Boettcher said of the way products such as Amazon’s Alexa have become a part of people’s lives.
“You’re getting into people’s memories. You’re getting into the way that they think about the world, some of the ethical positions that they take, how they think about their own lives — this isn’t an area that we want to let algorithms just run and feed people based on whether they … click on the ads next to this stuff,” he said.
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