“Artificial Intelligence – Really!!!?”

          Presenter: Dick Stetler – October 27, 2021


    There is an old story that was circulating years ago when the creators of computers were announcing society’s movement into the age of technology.  As the story unfolds, President Eisenhower was being shown a room full of computers.  The President asked the machines if there is a God.  The computers went into doing their combined computations and after a good amount of time had passed, a voice came out of the mainframe’s speaker system that said, “Now there is!”

    In spite of the humor of such a yarn, we still hear and read the fiction supporting the capabilities of technology to create a computerized brain that can actually think.  In reality, such a device is a powerful calculator capable of delivering countless computations every second.  Such creations are definitely super-human with the ability to solve problems with spectacular speed. 

    In this sense, such a device is an example of man-made tool that represents no threat to humanity.  Still the movie industry continues to come forth with films suggesting that somehow computers can become the arch-enemy of the human race, having concluded that human beings are inferior.

    On April 2, 1968, a blockbuster movie was released entitled, 2001:  Space Odyssey. Stanley Kubrick’s wide-screen masterpiece opened with the fanfare, Thus Spake Zarathustra. His movie introduced viewers with the possibility that a super-computer somehow was capable of evolving on its own.  The computer’s name was Hal who spoke with a calm, pleasant voice.  Hal was far from being calm and pleasant.  It slowly began taking over command of the ship.   It caused the deaths of key crew members by making them appear to be accidents.

    Hal was listening to every conversation between crew members.  Two members of the crew, fearful of this, entered a secure chamber where they thought they could talk without Hal hearing them.  Peering through a window, Hal had taught itself how to lip read. One of the engineers onboard eventually performed a lobotomy greatly reducing Hal’s capabilities.  At the end of the movie, the spaceship was abandoned and would travel endlessly into space without humans on board.  Hal realized what was happening and asked the last crew member on board, “Will I dream?”  No answer was given.

    Kubrick’s movie ushered in a string of movies featuring the same theme, e.g., Blade Runner, The Matrix Series, The Terminator Series and I Robot to name a few.  In reality, where technology’s genius computer programmers have their limitations is in the area of authentic human capabilities. 

    These purely human qualities have to do with dreaming, with intuition, and with developing their visionary imaginations. These are a few qualities of the spirit residing within each person.  The people who have spent time developing these skills have also developed an insatiable curiosity to probe the unknown. They delight in painting outside the lines. They continue to knock until the door opens to an unexplored new frontier. 

    Some people have developed these qualities to a point where they contribute to the advancement of humankind in various fields, e.g., Madame Curie’s studies in radioactivity in 1898 with the discovery of polonium and radium, the Wright Brothers at Kill Devil Hills with their primitive aircraft in 1903, Albert Einstein, a physicist who gave the world his theory of relativity in 1916, Alexander Fleming who discovered penicillin in 1928, and Steve Jobs who pioneered the creation of the personal computer and founded his company named Apple in 1976.

    Technicians have created machines that were science fiction decades earlier that are way beyond the powers of the human brain.  People can dream of one day creating an android named Commander Data that had become an essential member of the crew on the Starship Enterprise.  Data had a positronic brain that was superior to the brains of human beings.  The creation of this idea was introduced to humanity by Isaac Asimov, a marvelous visionary like Gene Roddenberry, who created the Star Trek series for television.

    A wise thought has been circulating for a long time that may have a lot of truth to it. Such a wise statement has reminded people that if humans have a vision of something, one day in the future, they will be able to create it. Judging from what is in the pipeline of technology, we are well on our way to doing just that.  With that said, we recognize that, with everything created up to the current date, all of it is only a Prelude to what is coming. With all the vast discoveries created thus far, humanity is still in its early-stage of emotional infancy.

    The human species still engage in wars.  People continue to starve. Nations can feed the world’s people, but they also have to race to develop weapons superior to all other nations.  Americans still have their addictions from cell phone usage to overdosing on fentanyl.  People continue to kill each other in the streets of American cities. The list is lengthy in citing how far human beings have to go before they can get along on the spaceship named earth.  Civilization needs to take care of a lot of social problems before people explore planets in the solar system or before going to the stars.  Already nations are weaponizing satellites that are in orbit around the earth.

    Keep in mind what each of us has within us.  Humans can become an infinite source of creativity when accessed.  This happens in every field of endeavor, e.g., art, music, archaeology, history, writing, teaching, etc.   Right now, politics apparently is a necessary evil.  Getting into a position of power and staying there appears more of a priority than working hard for the good of the people.

    Nearly a year ago in November, 2020, Elon Musk tweeted that Tesla was one month away from bankruptcy.  Today, Musk is worth 220 billion dollars, making him the wealthiest man on our planet.  How is this possible?  Elon Musk is a possibility thinker, not a person who cries out, “Someone, please help me!” Not only has he developed the mind of a visionary, but he also loves to play by taking risks in going where no one has been.  All of us have the same capabilities. Yes, we really do.  Some of us develop our potential and others cry out for a savior.  Jesus taught the same thing!  (Matthew 25:29)

    We enter this world, loaded with everything we could possibly desire. Most of us are infinitely endowed at birth with vast potential, but our teachers concentrate on having their students learn a curriculum filled with information about our world.  For sure, we need a solid core of knowledge, but why is mastering the spirit by which we live left out?  Spirituality has little or nothing to do with any particular religion.  It is universal and an endowed quality within all human beings. 

    Why was Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) and Jesus among the early teachers to teach about the world within us?   This inner world forms human attitudes and can be the source of our creative potential that lies in wait to be accessed.  The genius of countless millions of people goes untapped.

We will never wake up to this understanding until we train ourselves to be creative and compassionate in all our responses to living in a world filled with confused individuals.  Computerized devices are servants that do the bidding of their programmers.  Like all created objects, they reflect the values of their designers.  The time is now to begin teaching people how to live together in peace to create what is designed to serve everyone.  Spirituality is the name of such a curriculum.  Try to imagine the transformation that might take place if every university taught how to access and develop our own genius within each student?