Robots, Artificial Intelligence, and Life

We have discussed AI before, including how people get obsessed with it (see the links in "The Worship of Artificial Intelligence") Now we consider if electrical things can be considered alive. Philosophers have debated what constitutes life in the first place, now AI is added to the discussion.

People appreciate robots and artificial intelligence, but those things will never actually become alive. Two articles linked here explain why.
Credit: Pixabay / David Bruyland
Materialists only take a mechanistic view of life based on certain criteria, while biblical creationists know that biblically, life has the breath of life — nephesh chayyāh, (נפש חיה). There are different ways of considering if something is alive. When a houseplant dies, it is discarded because it does not have that breath of life. Animals have it, and so do people. Those with a materialistic bent will deny that we have a soul. Ironically, secularists search for a physical location of the soul in the body, but it is more than body and brain.

We like our robots, simple or intricate. They do dangerous things such as bomb removal, working in radioactive environments, lifting heavy objects, being sent to Mars in a vain search for extraterrestrial life, and more. They are also useful in mundane and repetitive tasks. Many of us say, "Domo arigato (どうもありがとう)". Except that these things are not actually alive, so no point in thanking them. Although they make decisions, that ability is based on programming. Robots and AI conduct activities seen in living things, but there are key differences that keep them from being alive. However, there are some things that computers, AI, or what have you are unable to handle.
Few people would consider disassembling an inoperable robotic ‘dog’ for spare parts to be problematic or shutting off the processor on one to be a form of roboticide akin to slaughtering a pig or euthanizing a pet dog. We know that an entity such as this robotic ‘dog’ is not a “living creature”. Even though the robotic ‘dog’ could meet most of the attributes of life in the dictionary definition, it is not alive.

The example of this robotic ‘dog’ may help us provide a better definition of what it means to be a “living creature”. It appears that there are at least three distinct levels (or types) of organic ‘life’. At the highest level are humans which meet every part of the dictionary definition referenced above—our bodies are composed of organic molecules and water, they grow from zygotes to adulthood, reproduce, are able to perform functional actions, and undergo continual change (e.g., decay and grow old) before they die. However, a missing component of this definition is the sentient capacity of the spirit (“breath of life”) with which humans were endowed by God at creation (Gen 2:7). Animals that are called “living creatures” are similar to humans since they also have a spirit component (Gen 1.30; Ps 104:27–30; Eccl 3:19–21). However, it is generally believed among Christian interpreters that their spirits are not of the same kind as that of humans, since they do not have the same rational capacities or moral accountability and probably are not immortal.

The entire article is located at "What does it mean to be a 'living creature'?" I'd be much obliged if y'all came back for the next section.

In their infinite wisdom to break things so designers can keep their phony-baloney jobs by "improving" them, the "Notes" feature on Fazebook was been eliminated, but this one was finally located. A computer-generated "paper" at The Question Evolution Project looks impressive, but is actually nonsense.

Peer-reviewed journals have allowed offal that was written by AI. Social(ist) media is infested with bots that are churning out propaganda, nonsense, and even trolling. They have no self-awareness and no idea what they're saying — which helps prove the point that they are soulless. We are created in the image of God. While robots and AI are intelligently designed, they are limited by the flaws of the fallen humans that built them.

A uniquely human capacity is to understand what one says. Artificial intelligence doesn’t get it.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is getting so good, machines can write scientific papers and send messages on social media. But there’s a problem: “no comprendo.” The machine doesn’t understand what it is saying. It has no common sense. A news feature in Nature about robo-writers (Nature 3 March 2021) quotes programmer Yejin Choi who laments,

Read the lament and the rest of this startling article by journeying to "Mindless Artificial Intelligence Doesn’t Understand What It Says".