Rise of the Machines: New Book Applies Christian Ethics to the Future of AI

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John Lennox reflects on questions of consciousness in computers, enhancing humans, and other quandaries.

Once viewed as the stuff of science fiction, artificial intelligence (AI) is steadily making inroads into our everyday lives—from our social media feeds to digital assistants like Siri and Alexa. As helpful as AI is for many aspects of our lives, it also raises a number of challenging moral and spiritual questions. Facial recognition can be used to locate fugitive criminals, but also to suppress political dissidents. Various apps and platforms can anticipate our preferences, but also harvest data that invades our privacy. Technology can speed healing, but many are hoping to use it to enhance natural human abilities or eliminate “undesirable” emotions.

In his recent book 2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity, Oxford professor emeritus John Lennox surveys the current and future landscape of AI and addresses these and related issues. Lennox is a mathematician who has spoken internationally on the philosophy of science, written books addressing the limits of science, and debated high profile atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. In the new book, he acknowledges the many benefits AI can offer, but he also critiques the worldview that lies behind many secular visions of AI that seek to transform humans into gods and create utopias through technology.

Christopher Reese spoke with Lennox about his book and how Christians should think about a number of issues related to this rapidly accelerating technology, including “upgrading” humans, whether computers can become conscious, and how Christians should weigh the pros and cons of AI.

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