Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Knowledge of God vs AI

The knowledge of God or omniscience is a mental attribute that refers to the ability to know everything. Grudem in Systematic Theology has described that as “God fully knows himself and all things actual and possible in one single and eternal act.”[1] 

According to Don Hoffman in The Divine Attributes: Exploring the Philosophy of Religion, “it is the sort of knowledge that a maximally great being would possess.”[2] The quality of knowing everything is called “omniscience.” Since God is all-knowing, he is omniscient. Though God is infinite or unlimited, he knows himself fully. God possesses infinite intelligence. According to David Clark in To Know and Love God,

God's knowledge is what God rightly believes as true. God is omniscient; he possesses infinite intelligence. God's knowledge— his grasp of the way things are— is fully adequate, both extensively and intensively. He comprehensively knows all facts, and his grasp of them constitutes a conceptual framework that is as complex as reality itself. God's exhaustive knowledge represents the fullest possible grasp of truth.[3]

The Bible states that only the Spirit of God can comprehend the thoughts of God. Humans can only understand the things freely given by God through his Spirit to understand.

These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. (1 Cor. 2:10-12)

God knows all things that exist and all things that will happen. God’s knowledge also makes him know all things possible. The universe God created is very complex, and humanity is still trying to figure out the details. The knowledge of humans about the universe has increased with advancements in science and technology, but that has also left humankind with more questions. There are many possibilities within the creation, and only God knows all those possibilities. God himself says that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his ways and thoughts higher than human ways (Isa. 55:9).

Nothing is hidden from God, and he knows every tiny detail of a person. Jesus said that God knows the needs of a person even before they ask him (Matt. 10:30). David, when reflecting on the knowledge of God, thinks that He knows human thoughts and actions.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Ps. 139:1-4;13-16)

In order to challenge the full knowledge of God, some objections are raised, pointing to the places where God says he will not remember the sins of people (Isa. 43:25). According to Grudem, “this does not mean that there is a limit to the knowledge of God. This means that God will not let the knowledge of our sins play any part in the way he relates to us.”[4] God still knows a person’s past and the sin committed. Forgiveness of sin by God does not erase the sin from God’s memory, or this does not mean God has no way to know that anymore. God will not hold that against a person anymore. So, this argument does not limit or challenge the knowledge of God.

Human knowledge is limited when compared to God’s knowledge. As children grow, they gain knowledge through education and experiences. The knowledge gained is limited. Modern technology has augmented or added knowledge in humans with the availability of data on the internet, which can be easily accessed. According to Bernard Marr, “The amount of data we produce every day is truly mind-boggling. There are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day at our current pace, but that pace is only accelerating with the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). Over the last two years alone, 90 percent of the data in the world was generated.”[5] Anyone can access these details by simply searching on a search engine, but this is limited to what has already been known to humans and made available on the internet. Hence the knowledge of humans cannot be compared to that of God. AI is based on information that is already made available and does not gain or generate any new knowledge. AI can process data and do calculations faster and predict outcomes based on historical data. These capabilities of AI cannot be compared to the knowledge of the creator God.

[1] Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, 190.

[2] Joshua Hoffman and Gary S. Rosenkrantz, The Divine Attribute: Exploring the Philosophy of Religion (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2002), 111.

[3] David K. Clark, To Know and Love God: Method for Theology (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2003), 355.

[4] Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, 192.

[5] Bernard Marr, “How Much Data Do We Create Every Day? The Mind-Blowing Stats Everyone Should Read” Forbes, accessed January 5, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/05/21/how-much-data-do-we-create-every-day-the-mind-blowing-stats-everyone-should-read/#f8e152460ba9.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Transhumanism - Human 2.0

Transhumanism is the belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by utilizing science and technology. At times it is also referred to as Human 2.0. There is a viewpoint that humans can change or upgrade them to be cyborgs- part human and part machine.

The topic of posthumanism and transhumanism are important in AI discussions. Scott A. Midson discusses this topic and states that,

"Closer analysis of the teleology of transhumanism, however, reveals a concrete vision of the movement that can be regarded as slightly yet significantly different to the undergirding substantive interpretation of the human. While this foundational assumption of human nature can be used to link Christianity, humanism and transhumanism, the transhumanist vision of the future reveals a more nuanced understanding of the human that may compete with the Christian eschatological vision."[1]
"Many transhumanists wish to follow life paths which would, sooner or later, require growing into posthuman persons: they yearn to reach intellectual heights as far above any current human genius as humans are above other primates; resistant to disease and impervious to aging; to have unlimited youth and vigor; to exercise control over their own desires, moods, and mental states; to be able to avoid feeling tired, hateful, or irritated about petty things; to have an increased capacity for pleasure, love, artistic appreciation, and serenity; to experience novel states of consciousness that current human brains cannot access."[2]

The ultimate goal of transhumanists is to use technology to bring a primarily humancentric utopia in which humans are fundamentally changed and may not be regarded as humans in the sense it is understood today. Transhumanists are looking to change or alter humans to become posthuman. One of its goals is to find more meaning and happiness in life. The questions like where we came from, how did we reach here, where we are going, and how we reach our destination are all relevant in this discussion. Religious beliefs and other systems answer these questions in different ways. Christianity points it to a creator God who created humans in His image with a purpose.  

We live in an age of upgrades. Most of the things we own now need frequent upgrades. An upgrade is a standard way of life. Many people cannot live with outdated stuff based on what the companies sell them. In some cases, I feel the innovation has reached a point where these companies are struggling to give a compelling reason to upgrade except by adding something which is not that essential or valuable for the ordinary person. The same logic is now applied to humans in the sense that augmented humans can be upgraded to overcome some of the limits currently experienced. 

Many things can be written and discussed on this topic, starting with the origin and meaning of life. I hope this small introduction to this topic will trigger some interest in thinking and addressing this issue in the realms where you have an opportunity. Transhumanists and Christians view humans in different ways. Transhumanists depending upon the advancements already made in technology, hope to reach a point where we will see the next version of humans. Christianity teaches that a human's final destiny is not to become a cyborg but to spend eternity with their creator. These two views stand in contrast to each other. My research has shown that many people have volunteered to be part of any trials to become human 2.0. It also reflects the trend of our culture to some extent and will continue. We have to be ready to address this issue.

As I have written, we are augmented by technology, and we have the power of Google to search and find anything. Transhumanism takes it to another level to alter what it means to be a human.

[1] Scott A Midson, Cyborg Theology: Humans, Technology and God (London: I.B. Tauris, 2018), 76.

[2] “See the official Transhumanist website for a deeper explanation of the posthuman at humanityplus.org under faqs”

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Challenges with AI

AI has gained popularity in recent years, and its usage has gone up way more than the general public is realizing. Just like exponential technological advancements seen in recent years, AI applications have also grown. Many technology companies are pursuing AI and looking for ways to incorporate it to automate business processes.

According to James Vincent, AI Research and Development are booming, but general intelligence is still out of reach. After reviewing the AI Index 2019 Annual Report, he has highlighted the main trends in AI.[1] AI research has gained much momentum, and “Between 1998 and 2018, there has been a 300 percent increase in the publication of peer-reviewed papers on AI. Attendance at conferences has also surged; the biggest, NeurIPS, is expecting 13,500 attendees this year, up 800 percent from 2012.” 

AI education is also growing, with over twenty-one percent of computer science PhDs related to AI. AI algorithms are also becoming faster and cheaper to train. The report finds that “The AI Index team noted that the time needed to train a machine vision algorithm on a popular dataset (ImageNet) fell from around three hours in October 2017 to just 88 seconds in July 2019. Costs also fell, from thousands of dollars to double-digit figures.” Private investment in AI-related research has also increased. He concluded that, when thinking about AI limitations and promises, it’s good to remember the words of machine learning pioneer Andrew Ng: “If a typical person can do a mental task with less than one second of thought, we can probably automate it using AI either now or in the near future.” We’re just beginning to find out what happens when those seconds are added up.[2]

General AI is still not there. There are many benefits of AI, which have been realized in many fields and noticeably in medical science. Robots are used in performing surgery. Recently there was a report of AI systems outperforming medical experts in spotting breast cancer. Software developed by Google Health could make breast screening more effective and help in places there is a shortage of radiologists.[3] Later another report came out, which highlights the issue with such systems. A new study from Google seems to show the promise of AI-assisted health care, and it shows the threat as well. This study concluded that AI makes bad medicine even worse.[4]

As the use of AI is increasing in daily life, there are ethical and relational issues that the church and ministers cannot ignore. As the researcher had some conversations with a few ministers before starting this project, it was evident that the church at large needs to be made aware of the issues raised by AI and how to respond to the questions raised by the younger generation. One person made the comment that at the end of the day, a computer has to be unplugged to stop AI. With the biblical and literature review of literature conducted in this project, it is evident that the issue of AI is of unplugging a computer. As AI augments humans and the capability of machines, it is essential to set limits and have strong policies per the commands given by God in the Bible. Any advancements which are in rebellion with God’s law and intent for humans will result in a judgment and undesired consequences. Therefore, there is a need for a biblical framework to address some of the challenges posed by AI.

[1] Raymond Perrault, Yoav Shoham, Erik Brynjolfsson, Jack Clark, John Etchemendy, Barbara Grosz, Terah Lyons, James Manyika, Saurabh Mishra, and Juan Carlos Niebles, The AI Index 2019 Annual Report (Stanford, CA: AI Index Steering Committee, Human-Centered AI Institute, 2019).

[2] James Vincent, “AI R&D is booming, but general intelligence is still out of reach,” The Verge, December 12, 2019, accessed December 29, 2019, https://www.theverge.com/2019/12/12/21010671/ai-index-report-2019-machine-learning-artificial-intelligence-data-progress.

[3] Ian Sample, “AI system outperforms experts in spotting breast cancer,” The Guardian, January 1, 2020, accessed January 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/jan/01/ai-system-outperforms-experts-in-spotting-breast-cancer.

[4] Christie Aschwanden, “Artificial Intelligence Makes Bad Medicine Even Worse,” Wired, January 10, 2020, accessed January 10, 2020, https://www.wired.com/story/artificial-intelligence-makes-bad-medicine-even-worse.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

AI tool could catch pancreatic cancer in advance

Let me start this post with a word of advice! 

As we have more access to information in this age, our awareness of different issues has grown exponentially. The challenge is to filter the information flow since there is much fake information. False information can create anxiety and cause depression and anger.

One area in which we hear a lot of news nowadays is health. I know of people whose primary doctor is Google search. Due to the abundance of information, please really get confused. I heard an incident where a patient challenged the doctor’s prescription because their research online taught them things that even the doctor did not know. One thing we have to remember is that people usually post bad experiences more than good experiences. I know that we will not make an effort unless an incentive is given to write or post about positive and great experiences. If we experience something wrong, we do not need any encouragement and will be willing to spend our time.

We have to be careful with the source we read. I came across an article that states that the “most common and deadliest type of pancreatic cancer, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, carries a five-year survival rate of less than 10%. Studies have shown that early detection can improve that rate by up to 50%, but there aren’t yet any reliable, widely used methods to catch the cancer early.”

The researchers at Cedars-Sinai recently published in the journal Cancer Biomarkers that they have developed an artificial intelligence tool that showed promise in detecting pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma using imaging data collected up to three years before an official diagnosis. Researchers are gathering pre-diagnostic CT scans from thousands more patients across the U.S. to continue validating the AI. It will be an exciting development if it becomes successful. Understanding the potential of AI, and as I have shared in the past, I think there are many areas where AI could benefit humans. Even as I write and try to bring awareness about the issues with AI, I am also equally interested in sharing things that are positive and have the potential to be very helpful to ordinary people.

 You can read more about it here -  https://www.fiercebiotech.com/medtech/cedars-sinai-ai-analyzes-ct-scans-catch-pancreatic-cancer-years-advance-study

Friday, August 5, 2022

AI in Patient Care - Who will play the game?

One of the areas where AI was expected and is making progress is the medical field. Recently I came across a scenario where robotic surgery was recommended by the doctor. I discussed in detail what will the robot do. Knowing how AI works, I was concerned if the robot would do the whole procedure. 

The doctor explained how she would manage and guide the procedure.  Basically, they explained to me that it would be like a video game, and they would play it and the robot will be performing the actions. My question was if they knew how the play it well. They assured me that they know it very well. The primary doctor admitted that it is too early to use AI for these things. She was very much interested in this topic and does research on it. We had a good discussion about my background in AI and theology research.

Now that does not mean AI in patient care is not possible. There are many areas where it is being used. AI is improving the efficiency and quality of care on many fronts, starting with administration. AI is being used to help reduce the burden on nurses who have to deal with many administrative and regulatory tasks along with patient care. It can help with greater accuracy with diagnosis as it can be used to evaluate many types of imaging tests  — X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and echocardiograms. 

There are many areas in medicine and patient care that can benefit from AI, but also many challenges.  I came across a few articles which highlight them. If you are interested in reading more about it, please visit the links below. I hope that someday we will see the benefits of using AI in patient care realized more than we see today. This could help people in many ways. For that to happen, I still think a lot of research and innovation must occur before there is confidence in these solutions.

Otherwise, people like me will ask, "Who will play the game - Doctor or AI?" If AI, then I am unsure how confident I will be based on what I know.

Artificial intelligence and the future of medicine

Doctors Find Artificial Intelligence is the Best Prescription for Expert Assistance and Patient Care

Sermon: "AI in the End Times: Unraveling Revelation" - from ChatGPT

I was inspired by a video I saw recently to ask ChatGPT about in role in end times. My question was - Prepare me a sermon on the role of AI...