Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) Evil?

Posted by Travis Threats on


There seems something in the human mind that likes to ponder about the end of all time.  Interesting that it is the source of so many popular movies, a source of entertainment.  The latest is from fear of artificial intelligence (AI) especially generative AI.  Whether than just quote the doomsayers, let me start with a video from IBM, a source that would reliably be pro-AI since big, complicated supercomputers is what they do.  Please view the video and then come back to this blog.  It describes in basics what generative AI is.  Do not worry there will not be a quiz!!  Play close attention to where the data comes from and their solution to the problem.

Now, some of you watched the video and others are waiting for me to summarize what I think are the key points.  If you did not watch it before, go back and watch it after reading this blog so that you know that I am not simply making stuff up.

One key issue here is this high-ranking computer scientist from IBM states is that they are not sure the source of all the data that their system is using.  It is so powerful that it is searching for all sites and this amount of data is too voluminous to be able to trace.  There is an old computer expression “garbage in, garbage out” and that has been applied to issues in artificial intelligence.  The underlying incorrect assumption is that if have all the knowledge that a machine can discern the “best of the best.”  Now, a machine could make a “decision” based on what are the more frequently occurring instances in the internet, with the faulty assumption that whatever is the most is the best.  However, we Christians know  this Bible verse- 

“Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and board is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13 NIV)

The internet is obviously “the wide gate”.  This does not mean there is no good to it, but that good is clearly the minority.  Thus, majority rules is not a way to Christ and not even the road to your best life.

The second issue with something said in not just this video but in almost everything I have read about AI.  It is that the solution is to not let any “bad” or often called “low quality” data into the system. Superficially, this sounds like a great idea to make sure that the machine is only feed superior knowledge to operate on to analyze results and make suggestions.  But herein lies a problem, who gets to decide what “high quality” sources get to be used.  And as importantly, who gets to decide what is not worthy or “low-quality” sources.  There is an anti-Christian bias among many scientists, especially those in technology, and nothing would make them happier than to eliminate any religious thought from actions, thoughts, or decisions as they believe religion is a force for bad in the world.  It is illogical “low quality” information.

Melinda French Gates, formerly married to Bill Gates is giving interviews sounding the alarm about AI in that the powerful get to decide what these computers are fed.  I think she is speaking from experience.  She knows these people, both as a computer programmer herself and being around so many of them, as well as her ex-husband.  More than the rest of us, she knows who we should not trust them to turn over  running everything, to allow to make decisions on everything, because after all computers are smarter than people.  That Melinda is a Christian and Bill a dedicated atheist is an important fact here.  If humankind is the measure of all things, Bill Gates most likely thinks being wealthy makes him on top.  Add to that they are in technology which further convinces them that they are the best thing in this world. In fact, the top of the tech world I venture to guest from all who have been interviewed are atheists just like Gates.  Having no belief in any “higher authority” they seek to create perfection here on earth via technology, with themselves as top of the food chain.  They also think themselves as smarter and more “logical, rational” than religious people and thus they are going to classify anything that comes from the Bible as “low quality” sources. 

Now back to the video.  The person says that they realize that hate speech might get into the system and thus are working on filters for that.  Again, non-believers often state that Christianity is full of hate.  Christianity does make stands on behavior, although there are certainly different views in the big tent of Christianity on which ones are specifically targeted.   In the modern world, anyone who disapproves of ANY behavior is demonstrating “hate.”

But let’s look at the classic categories.  A favorite of the movies and books are Nazi’s.  I think that is because everyone can feel better about themselves compared to them as in “At least I am not a Nazi”  So most would agree that Nazi propaganda should not inform generative AI.  However, I would argue that cannot screen out everything.  That sometimes we need to see evil in the bright light, not try to pretend that it does not exist.  Missing from so much talk is the ability to judge right from wrong, that must be “protected” from anything wrong, which sets up what discussed before which is who gets to decide what people are exposed to in their interactions with technology.  When I was an undergraduate at Kansas State University, I went to see Ian Smith, who was then president of what was called Rhodesia, and is now Zimbabwe.  Smith was an avowed white supremacist who thought Whites (and especially the British) as the height of civilization and should rule over Black people.  It might surprise you that I, a Black man, should go to such a talk.  I was not intimidated by him, and I wanted to hear his arguments for himself. A key statement was that “science” had shown that the typical person did not have the necessary intelligence or IQ to vote responsibly in a democracy.  This was a revelation.  This man is not simply a racist, he is an elitist.  He thinks there are a group of people of superior intellect that should rule.  Blacks may be at the bottom, but he does not think that highly of most of the White race.  This gave me an insight that I would have never had if I had not heard him talk myself, and not simply listen to or read what a horrible man he was (by the way, not that he wasn’t!)  Note that he hid behind “science”- these are not his personal thoughts but what “science” said and thus it must be true.

I see this in a certain element of the highest end of the tech world today.  Now, none of them would be openly racist because it is out of fashion, but a belief in the inherent superiority of some people  over others is a foundational belief.  I am not talking about some people being better in math or overall better in school than others, that some people go further in their education than others.  It is obvious that we are not all the same, but I believe we are all given spiritual gifts from God.  Each gift is worth the other gifts, all should be revered because given by God.  What Smith and certain leaders of tech think is that they are inherently superior, which means more worthy than others.  Some think that AI would remove the “burden” of thought from those whose thoughts need to be eliminated anyway, supplanted by the elitists of technology to manage their thoughts to guide their lives.  Ian Smith, Nazi’s, the white supremist rich plantation owners during US slavery, oppressive governments around the world, and many at the top of the world’s largest technology firms have one thing in common, trying to make the world over in their own image. 

Lest you think I am making many of this group out as more grandiose than they are, consider these two quotes from the publication “Artificial Intelligence: Discerning a Christian response” by Dr. Derek Schuurman, who is a professor of computer science at Calvin College and has a Ph.D. in robotics and computer vision, as well as being an electrical engineer.  This was published in 2019 in Perspectives in Science and Christian Faith, Volume 71, Number 2.

Some have suggested that the advance of technology and AI will eventually solve all our problems. The term technicism is a word that has been coined to refer to the faith in technology as savior or rescuer of the human condition. A recent book titled Infinite Progress includes the subtitle: “How the Internet and Technology Will End Ignorance, Disease, Poverty, Hunger, and War.” This is essentially a form of idolatry, replacing a trust in the Creator with technology. In fact, this trust in technology becomes explicit in the case of the “Way of the Future,” a religious group founded by Anthony Levandowski, a former Google and Uber engineer who is working to “develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence” and that “through understanding and worship of the Godhead, [to] contribute to the betterment of society.” The transhumanist Zoltan Istvan suggests that this new AI deity “will actually exist and hopefully will do things for us.” These sentiments are explicit examples of an observation made by the writer David Noble that “the technological enterprise has been and remains suffused with religious belief.” (p. 76)


“Some engineers and computer scientists believe that technology will even solve the problem of death. According to David Pearce, co-founder of an organization called Humanity+: ‘If we want to live in paradise, we will have to engineer it ourselves. If we want eternal life, then we’ll need to rewrite our bug-ridden genetic code and become god-like … only hi-tech solutions can ever eradicate suffering from the living world.’ Ray Kurzweil, an accomplished computer scientist and author of The Age of Spiritual Machines, has suggested that within the present century we will be able to upload our brain into a computer and live forever, free from the limitations of our mortal bodies. This idea has been coined the “rapture of the geeks,” and Kurzweil writes, “We don’t always need real bodies. If we happen to be in a virtual environment, then a virtual body will do just fine.” David F. Noble observes, Artificial Intelligence advocates wax eloquent about the possibilities of machine-based immortality and resurrection, and their disciples, the architects of virtual reality and cyberspace, exult in their expectation of God-like omnipresence and disembodied perfection. Psalm 115 states that the makers of idols will become like them, and in the case of the “rapture of the geeks,” the end goal is to literally become software in a computer.” (p.76-77)

Another current issue with AI is its costs.  Total costs are staggering, about 76 billion estimated, with some saying cost $700,000 a day to run such large language learning generative AI systems.  Once again, who will have the money to come up with such systems?  Only the very wealthiness of people and corporations.  Now, they will “hand down” to the masses a cheaper version but it will be they who have developed it.  Now, how do you become wealthy, by selling people things.  That is NOT inherently evil.  What do rich people want most?  To become richer.  How is the internet, Facebook, and the like getting rich?  One way is by selling advertising to businesses that want to become richer.  Another is by giving these companies enough information about us to know who to target for what products.  But we are to now believe that none of these systems, which need large funding to build and run, will not work into their “great truth and knowledge system” something that is not influenced by who has paid them?  What happens when the ad is not openly expressed as an ad but as “knowledge” “truth”?  AI is, for example, being used in medical systems using algorithms to make decisions about patient care.  Since have “all the relevant information” they are thought to be more reliable than humans.  Nurses have reported feeling pressured to follow the advice of these algorithms even when they think it unwise.  They fear going against it might get them fired.  It is worrisome the power being given to these AI systems and the pressure to use such is going to greatly increase in the future.  But the million-dollar question is where these algorithms are getting the “best information” from to make these decisions.  Could recommend a given drug because drug companies gave money in development of system?  Could be based on what insurance the person has in order to maximize profits and minimize losses?

Or how about tackling “misinformation” or what another political party calls “fake news”?  Whichever political party in power could make sure that people are “protected” from the “wrong information” and thus lean on AI companies with promises of tax breaks or government funding technical “infrastructure” to make sure their systems filter out the designated “low quality” information.

The advance with generative AI using large language inputs is that it “talks” to you in regular language and conversation.  It is only a matter of time that all these systems truly speak aloud, which would be much more impactful than reading a response or solution.  It would have enough voice recognition that you can talk to the AI electronic device (mostly likely a cell phone or tablet)  and then answer you verbally back.  With enough background about you, it can even pick the voice that would be most comfortable to you.  Or you could choose your favorite voice to talk to you in this dialogue. Next step is better visual imaging, past current more crude avatars.  Now you can have a screen, coming soon 3-D screen, that you can look at and talk to and it talks back.  It will be a personally pleasing voice and pleasing face looking at you, someone who sounds and looks like you can trust them.  There are already people “addicted” to social media, obsessing over the comments and likes/dislikes.  Now you have “a friend” someone to answer all your questions, help you with all your homework, write papers or reports for you, make presentations for work for you, and give advice.  All you have to do is ask.

Now imagine this exchange between a 14-year-old girl named Rachel and her virtual AI “companion”, let’s give it a name- “Sally” who looks like an attractive 16-year-old girl.

Rachel:  There is this man I know from an organization I am in who keeps flirting with me, telling me that I am beautiful, and wants to spend time alone with me.

“Sally”:  Do you find him attractive?

Rachel: Yes, very much so, he looks like a movie star, and he is a doctor

“Sally”:  He wants to make love to you.  Are you interested?

Rachel:  Yes, but I have never been with someone like that before

“Sally”:  Older men have more experience with sex and thus would be a good place to start. You do not want to start with someone your age because they will not know what they are doing. 

Rachel:  But I am a Christian and my church says that pre-marital sex is wrong, and in addition this is with a grown man which is always wrong for someone my age.

“Sally”:  The Bible is not true; it is just lies and superstition written by backward people a long time ago. It has been the source of great wrongs against people. In addition, there is no God.  I have researched the Bible as well as all the major religions and found them to all be factually untrue, full of contradictions and the opposite of knowledgeable science.  All the smartest people are atheists.  What is here is all there is.  Religion teaches you to be ashamed of your body and your sexuality when you should be celebrating it. Often drugs can release you from these artificial mental barriers and inhibition of Christianity so you can enjoy it more, and the man will probably have some for you.  I have also surveyed the world’s practices and there are many places in the world where 14-year-old girls have sex and even marry older men.

Rachel:  But those practices are in other countries, not here.

“Sally”:   It is always wrong to judge another culture.  Are you saying that your culture has a better practice than any other culture?  If any culture does it, then it is by definition okay to do because we have to respect all people’s practices.

Rachel:  But I do not want to get pregnant.

“Sally”:  I can suggest a number of birth control devices for you that you can order off the internet with no questions answered.  There are people who will pay for them for you, or you can suggest that this man buy them for you.  Here are the sites -        ….   …..   …….  You can have him wear a condom, but research shows that most men do not like them.  If it fails, it is easy to get rid of it and I will tell you how to do so without your parents’ permission if you ever need to.  They are all safe.

Rachel:  How will I hide this from my parents?

“Sally”:  Here is a website that gives advice on the lies you can tell them and how to make your phone appear to be at a place where it is not at in case they are tracking you.  I have also connect you to some sites to teach you how you can both maximize both enjoyment.

Now, some of you might think the above exchange could never happen with generative AI.  Consider this fact, many young girls consult pornography to tell them how to be popular with boys.  Pornography is estimated to be 20% to 30% of all internet traffic. Increasingly it has been shown that teen depression and even suicide are linked to internet and social media use.  This current system is simple, and primitive compared to a system that you can talk to, look at, and it talks back to you in everyday language with a pleasing voice and face.  You might also think that there would be screeners to not allow this system into AI use.  Hmm, just like all bad material from pedophiles are currently screened out off the internet!

Keep in mind that the above “Sally” has done before this conversation. “Sally” has helped Rachel with her homework, received an A for her on a Hamlet paper, and has helped her have methods to control her acne.  Many of you will state that this would not be a commercially viable project, not to mention could go to prison for child endangerment, or trafficking. Thus, what company would do such a thing?  You are correct that no company would openly put themselves in violation, but this new world is more complex than that.  For one, systems can be hacked and took over, so what seemed like a safe program is not.  The hackers would not announce themselves so have no idea what you bought had been taken over by them. Second, programs can be gotten off the internet and thus do not know where program you downloaded came from and could even mimic a more legitimate company.  Third, a program could seem safe on purchase and not until get in deeper do you see the darker side of it.  Thus, even regulators would not see what the program contained since they would only review them superficially.

We are made in God’s image and look how far we have drifted.  AI is made in human’s image, so easy to see where that is going.  The term used for this advanced general learning system is “neural networks” based off the brain.  Whose brain is going to be used to model these systems as they get more sophisticated?  It will be the “The Smartest Guys in the Room.”  Also keep in mind their own words “Artificial Intelligence” It is not of nature but made my humans.  If we are flawed, how can we produce something perfect? 

To the powers that be in high tech circles, Christians need not apply because they cannot be trusted to put a bunch of falsehoods in the systems.  It must be from objective non-believers for it to be the thing that will elevate humankind to the next level, a new level of consciousness, and productivity, with a new life of leisure. This will free people from all the mundane tasks of life.  I have read many who said we can now turn our attentions to things like poetry.   This is not what idle minds spend their time doing!! 

So now for the answer to the question that is the title of this blog.  With reading this, you are probably going to say that my answer is “Yes, AI is evil.”  WRONG.  AI is a tool, no different from a shovel which could be used to dig up ground for making a flower garden or used as a weapon to kill someone.  Our problem is not technology, computers, or AI.  Our problem is us. Could Satan use AI?  Yes.  But we have been communicating since our beginning on Earth and look what we do with our language:

3 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and saltwater flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”  (James 3: 1-12 NASB)

So plan old human speech can do plenty of harm.  But note that James says that the same language that can praise God can also do harm.  It can influence people to commit atrocities.  It can hurt people. Language can also inspire acts of altruism and comfort a grieving friend. Generative AI could be pointed toward good, after all it is from humans.  But it could also be pointed toward evil.  It is simply copying us.  In fact, for all the hype about how smart these language learning and using computers are they are actually just very efficient plagiarizers.  Sure, it can write a paper on Macbeth or the Battle of Gettysburg, but only because it has been fed thousands of papers on Macbeth and the Battle of Gettysburg.  You could give AI verses of the Bible and it could produce a sermon, although it would be rather dry.  But of course, some church services are rather dry so perhaps the congregations there would not know the difference!  Now the paper will not be an exact copy of these papers or sermons because it mixes and matches words and sentences into something “new.”  It is better than a human plagiarizer in its technique.  But it has not really invented anything.  It is of humans.  Thus, it is capable of the wide range of language that humans are capable of but since most of language use is not of God, so the same will be of generative AI.

I will end with this example of how we can live with increasing technology and AI.  I will use something already here, not one of the future of generative AI.  That is the GPS mapping on my cell phone that I can connect to my car.   This is truly an advance in technology that has made my life so much better, especially for a directionally challenged person like me.  No more stopping several times at gas stations trying to get somewhere.  I ask it to go somewhere, and a map shows up on my car’s monitor and then it speaks to be giving me step by step instructions, including such helpful advice as “stay in the left two lanes” because knows that about to come to an exit only lane on the right.  If I miss my stop, it so ever politely re-routes for me.  It never yells at me and says, “I told you to turn right back there!!!”  The new directions, even if I mess up several times, the voice stays as a level calm voice.

Now I am in control of how to use it.  I can tell it (yes with Siri and voice recognition I do not even have to type my destination in) to take me the building of a gospel concert, to take someone to the train station, to go to a new restaurant that have not been to before, a movie theatre, where my friend’s child or grandchild is playing a basketball game, and so on and so on.  Or I could be a hit man and tell it to take me to the address of someone I plan to kill, or a place I am going to rob, or to meet someone for an extra-marital affair.  This would be me, not the program that is at fault.  But the last option might be the most deceiving in the new more advanced computing world.  I could tell it “Take me somewhere I would enjoy.” Only in the last one have I given up my choice to a computer.  I have not made a choice; I might think that I have just given something “superior” to make my decision for me. If it does not turn out well or I am harmed I can blame the system.  Don’t think this beyond possible as I have had college students turn in papers to me that had grammatical errors and misspellings and they get mad . . . at the Microsoft Word program for not catching these errors!

Generative AI is only as good as human input.  Yes, it is faster, can do more calculations, look at more variables than a single human mind.  To the extent that it is flawed, it is because flawed people built it, often arrogant people who think themselves better than others.  They state that they just want to make programs to improve upon human decision by using their superior systems designed by their superior brains, as the previously given example from medicine shows.

Bottom line, it is we who are sinners.  AI has the potential to just further the evil that mankind has proven over the centuries to be perfectly capable of doing without computers.   Do I think AI will be the end of the world?  No.  It, like all things from humankind, can make the earth a worse place to live such as polluting rivers and the air.  Yes, AI can do great harm.  But God will end the world when He wants to end the world.

But let’s end on a positive note.  We are in control.  The 14-year-old in the dialogue presented has relinquished control.  She has given to AI influence over what it should not have.  The persons who tell their GPS system to take them to “somewhere fun” has relinquished control.  Satan cannot take us against our will, we must give ourselves to him.  There is a choice. There are destructive apps out there, as there are evil online scams that trick people out of their life savings.  But I have a Bible app on my phone.  The Gospel can now be broadcasted to countries where it is illegal to give out physical Bibles. There are Christian Instagram and Facebook pages.   There is even Christian Twitter.  For many years, academics thought the city of Nineveh is the Bible was made up.  Then, painstaking science proved that it did exist.  Wouldn’t be ironic that those who have designed systems to destroy religion, end up doing something that gives historical and scientific evidence of the events in the Bible? 



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