Is artificial intelligence (AI) biblically possible?

Question: "Is artificial intelligence (AI) biblically possible?"

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the theoretical capacity of a computer to learn and to make decisions in the same manner as humans do. Though the criteria of what constitutes artificial intelligence are variously defined, some people believe technology will one day produce robots or humanoids that will function at the intellectual level of a human being.

In some rudimentary ways, technology mimicking artificial intelligence already exists. For example, many smart phones provide a digital assistance (such as iPhone’s “Siri”), while some homes benefit from Amazon’s Echo or Google Home, which functions as a computerized assistant for some basic household tasks. Other modern examples of AI exist, but there are some biblical reasons why there are limitations to artificial intelligence.

First, artificial intelligence is limited by human programming. In other words, artificial intelligence is created by people and is limited to what people can create. While technology will likely continue to advance, it is unlikely we’ll ever see a robot with qualities equal to or greater than a human in terms of thinking and choice-making.

Second, artificial intelligence can only be programmed to accomplish physical tasks or respond according to probabilities and statistics; artificial intelligence cannot feel “emotion” or apply morality beyond its programming. God created human beings with a spirit, a non-physical aspect of their being, that is the seat of emotions, conscience, morality, love, faith, and other important attributes. No matter how far technology advances, it will never create a spirit. There are some things about humans that just cannot be duplicated.

Artificial intelligence research has been woefully unsuccessful at even approximating the incredible creation of the human person. The goal of replicating the prowess, dexterity, and creativity of the human mind through artificial intelligence is biblically unattainable. Claims of actual progress in the field of AI should be treated with a healthy amount of skepticism. Ultimately, only God can create a mind; humans, created in God’s image, have genuine intelligence. There can be no such thing as truly artificial intelligence.

God created the universe from nothing (Genesis 1–2). Men and women are created in His image (Genesis 1:26–27) and for His glory. Humans have the ability to create in some ways similar to their Creator (which is why we have art, music, and technology), but we are unable to create life or self-consciousness.

The pursuit to create artificial intelligence in some ways demonstrates how humans are created in the image of God. Because of the imago dei, we seek to express creativity even to the point of fabricating intelligence, yet, because we are not God, we run into limitations in the process.

Recommended Resources: In Our Image: Artificial Intelligence and the Human Spirit by Noreen Herzfeld

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Is artificial intelligence (AI) biblically possible?

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