Should We Be Alarmed? by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche. 2023.
Author: A Little Faith Lift…Finding Joy Beyond Rejection
AWSA (Advanced Writers & Speakers Assoc.)

Dave and I have two new houseguests.  In the beginning, I enjoyed their company, but recently I’ve become annoyed with them. Hubby finds them kind and cooperative.  Probably because his wish is their command. He makes a request, and they speedily comply. He’s loving it and appears overly grateful and mannerly when these womenfolk respond.

“Siri, please set my alarm for 6:30”

“Okay.  Your alarm is set.”

“Thank you.”  (Dave seriously thanks her.  He thanks a robot, and it responds with “You’re welcome” or “My pleasure.”)

The other night, when he asked her to set his alarm, he altered his request.

“Thank you, Sweetie,” he said, thinking himself funny.

She did not answer.  Dave waited, staring at his cellphone.

“Dave,” I said, “You ticked her off when you called her ‘Sweetie.’  You crossed a line.”

“I did not.  She appreciated me being nice to her.”

This scenario was repeated the following night.  Still no “Thank you” from Siri.

“Told you,” I said.

When Hubby tried it with Alexa, she, too, failed to appreciate his term of endearment.

“You haven’t earned the right to call her “Sweetie,” and you don’t live in the South where everyone calls everyone “Sugar,” “Honey,” or “Sweetie.”

When I realized I was lecturing him on how to talk to a robot, I knew that we both were in mid-stages of brain decline.

Dave decided to trick Alexa to determine if she really was listening to our conversations, whispering to me ahead of time what he was doing before saying loudly, “Patty, I think we should buy a new vacuum,” pointing his face towards our new friend. Within minutes, Dave’s iPad lit up with ads for vacuums.

Personally, I found that alarming.

We are entering a world where AI (Artificial Intelligence) is causing us to question where we are headed.  We appreciate that it directs our driving routes, screens job applicants and has tremendous potential in medicine and science, but we must ask where it all ends.

Today, I asked Alexa if we humans are special among other living things.  She said that we were because we can think and be creative. I was glad she didn’t lump us in with vegetables and animals.

In Linda Kinstler’s article “Can Silicon Valley Find God,” she wrote about Rob Barrett, a researcher at IBM in the ’90s.

One day, he was outlining the default privacy settings for an early web browser feature. His boss, he said, gave him only one instruction: “Do the right thing.” It was up to Mr. Barrett to decide what the “right thing” was. That was when it dawned on him: “I don’t know enough theology to be a good engineer,” he told his boss. He requested a leave of absence so he could study the Old Testament, and eventually he left the industry.

Recently, I read that AI writes sermons and that there is an AI Jesus app where the app speaks to you as if it’s Jesus talking to you.  “What is going to be created will effectively be a god,” engineer Andrew Levandowski forewarned and continued, “It’s not a god in the sense that it makes lightning or causes hurricanes. But if there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?”

Certainly, not God, Mr. Levandowski.

My God is eternal, omnipresent and omniscient.  He created the person who programs the AI system, and He not only offers us eternity, He delivered it by sending His son, Jesus Christ, to die for us, something AI can only imagine doing.

He is the only god I will call “God.”  I am concerned for those who do otherwise.

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