One of the most talked-about technology breakthroughs in the 21st century involves artificial intelligence or A.I. Whether you know it or not, it touches every part of our lives.
From self-driving cars to robot companions to warfighters, artificial intelligence is taking a prominent role across all industries. And while that's not necessarily a bad thing, experts are concerned about losing the human touch.
Self-driving vehicles are no longer futuristic, they're the here-and-now. It raises just one of many serious questions about A.I. – could this form of transportation, powered by artificial intelligence, overtake good old-fashioned driving?
"I do think that the consumer relishes in the humanity, in the rush of driving," said Gerson Moreno-Riano, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Regent University.
The school has launched what's called Project Quantum, with a heavy emphasis on the ethics of A.I.
"Technology is very, very important, it's very helpful obviously," Moreno-Riano says. "But ultimately it's what do we think about God, what society or a culture thinks about God, and what a culture and society think about human beings in the nature of humanity that will drive how technology is going to be used."
Moreno-Riano says the biggest danger is the possibility of humans getting lost as the technology grows.
"Families can request an A.I. robot, for example, place it in a nursing home and rather than visiting their parents or family members there they just place a robot that can speak and learn and communicate with you," Moreno-Riano said.
"There are also A.I. applications that can perform funerals and religious rites so you don't have to have an actual minister doing it. So, it eliminates the need for humanity in some of these areas where we think humanity is most needed."
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For centuries, science and industry have worked together to streamline life's daily chores and processes. Moreno-Riano worries this latest chapter could turn humans into servants of these machines or the people who create them.
"The dilemma is that most scientists and engineers that speak about this are not thinking about it," Moreno-Riano says.
"Sounds like you're saying we have to be very careful in this process not to create Frankenstein," questioned CBN News.
"Absolutely, or to have someone else create it for us and we just sit back and watch," Moreno-Riano responded.
This debate also stretches to the military realm where A.I. is becoming a go-to solution for deciding when and where to strike.
"It's simple to have a machine identify targets of opportunity, but what about the human element here on the other side of the fence," Moreno-Riano said.
It was a key topic of conversation at a recent military warfare conference sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association.
"I think at some point it's going to be really hard to keep man in the loop," said Mike Dana, a retired USMC General. "When you have autonomous platforms, artificial intelligence, machine speed combat, you may not be able to rein that in and ensure that a human in the loop prevents that escalation."
Add to that, pressure on the U.S. to keep up with China and other nations moving full speed ahead with A.I. in combat.
"Senior leadership is listening and they understand that we are stepping into an environment that is just new to us, but we have to do something to get better at it," noted Dorothy Engelhardt, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
Moreno-Riano insists no matter what segment of life, humans who feel, reason, have compassion, and fear God must remain in control.
"If we can't do that, I think the A.I. role should be limited so that human beings are at the centerpiece, the focal point of decision-making, not machines," Moreno-Riano said.
He adds that Christians need to pray for wisdom in this area and that the Lord would raise up leaders equipped to properly handle this fast-moving technology. He notes Regent University wants to help build those leaders.