Articles  |    |  June 2, 2019

Recent advances in Artificial Intelligence and some of the issues in the theology & AI dialogue

Article by Marius Dorobantu.
Published in ESSSAT News & Reviews.

Abstract:

This review article briefly considers the history of AI and the most relevant milestones, and assesses the current state of the art in various AI applications. It then reviews some of the deeper questions posed by present and future AI technologies, and their representation in current literature in the science and theology dialogue.

Introduction

Since the seminal work of AI pioneer Alan Turing, the field of AI has seen its ups and downs, with times of high hope alternating with times of disappointment (the so-called “AI winters”). The period we’re in, which started roughly after the turn of the millennium, is once again one of real progress, with some impressive achievements.

With AI permeating our lives at unprecedented levels, there is serious talk about it representing a true industrial revolution, with huge consequences for how we work, live our lives, and relate to one another. At the same time, the possibility of machines acquiring real intelligence in the near to medium future is again on the table. This possibility raises a host of exciting questions – ethical, philosophical, and theological – about the nature of intelligence, personhood, and even humanity’s right to pursue such a game-changing pro- ject.

On the other hand, the increasing ubiquity of AI in our legal, medical, and financial systems, as well as in our social networks, media and entertainment also brings to the fore a darker perspective. The concerns go from issues of privacy, manipulation, election meddling, and inequality, to accountability and even an existential risk for humanity.