AI – Artificial Intelligence – has been grabbing headlines and generating significant concern of late, and for good reason.
Elon Musk, who heads up Twitter, Tesla and SpaceX, and who has led and championed its development over the years, is now warning that the technology poses an imminent threat to the world that has the potential to lead to “civilization destruction.”
Other analysts have warned against the rise of “deepfakes” – AI-generated photographs, videos and voices that are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing.
Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Information, observed, “When we enter this world where any audio, image or video can be manipulated, well, then how do you believe anything?”
Professor Farid then added, “Anytime I see the president speak or a candidate speak or a CEO speak or a reporter speak, now there’s this lingering doubt.”
In many ways, this pioneering AI technology represents the potential for a major turning point in human civilization.
Yet looked at from another perspective, discerning what is true from what is false is also a modern-day manifestation of what humans have been battling since the beginning of time.
It was the deception in the Garden of Eden that led to Adam and Eve’s fall, and by extension, all of humanity. First the serpent “faked” Eve, and then Adam followed Eve’s lead. It all went downhill from there.
Discerning truth from falsehood or fact from fiction is a daily and sometimes exhausting exercise. If it feels like scammers and hustlers are always looking to deceive and destroy their victims, it would be because they are. According to the Federal Trade Commission, American consumers were fraudulently bilked out of nearly $8.8 billion last year.
But deception goes well beyond dollars. Radical extremists in many schools are determined to deceive and manipulate young, impressionable minds. Abortion activists make a living lying to the public about a baby’s humanity. Another dangerous deception is this completely made up idea that men can become women and women can become men.
Liberal zealots deceive juries and judges about the constitutionality of their left-wing agenda. Radical climate revolutionaries peddle deceptions concerning our ever-changing weather – and some buy it hook, line and sinker. They decide against trying to have children out of the false fear that children will somehow be a burden on the earth.
Yes, “deepfakes” have been around for a long time, though in different form. The names and methods change, but the motives do not. It’s all about deception and trying to convince us of things that are just not true.
Being human and fallible like everyone else, Christians are also vulnerable to the onslaught of disinformation – but we benefit from being able to square or discard nearly everything important against the veracity of God’s Word. Incidentally, never satisfied and always seeking to take God’s seat, this is why deceivers have regularly tried over the years to infiltrate and change the multi-millennia old truths of the Scriptures. Radicals seem to take special glee in corrupting and distorting Biblical orthodoxy.
As the world roils, rages, and gives rise to this latest crop of AI-generated “deepfake” themes, it’s critical for Christians to reaffirm what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable (Phil. 4:8).
It’s also time to wherever possible, rely less on technology and reinvest in our personal, face-to-face relationships. Put down the phone, turn away from the digital screens that shed an eerie glow on our world – and look up at the people God has placed in your path.
It’s been estimated that between 93% and 95% of the time you spend with your children in your lifetime will take place prior to their 18th birthday. Are you making the most of your time with them or allowing yourself to be digitally distracted?
God created us to be relational. AI can apparently do a lot, and replicate too much, but the technology will never replace a face-to-face, heart-to-heart conversation with a loved one or friend.
Photo from Shutterstock.