GUEST POST: Speculative Fiction Imago Hominis by Mark Carver

Mark carverI’ve said this more than once but I’m a HUGE fan of Mark Carver. I feel like I could start a fan club and I’d be the President.  His wordsmith skills are poetry in ink. I can’t say enough good things about his work.

He’s written some dark tales and thrillers I enjoy.  He took a hiatus to be someone else for a while and I know he’s coming back next year with more  gritty tales to tell.

I always appreciate his insight into a variety of things and I wanted to have him say his piece about man and artificial intelligence.

Thank you to Speculative Faith Lorehaven for hosting Mark Carver!


I recently posted a discussion on Facebook that received a bit of attention so I thought I would expand it into an article. The topic was about androids/synthetic humans. Several weeks ago, I watched two films dealing with the subject: Zoe on Amazon Prime and Extinctionon Netflix. I can’t talk about how artificial people factor into these films without spoiling the stories so you’ll just have to go check them out for yourself. But in both films, the line between man and machines is blurred almost to nonexistence and it is crossed in numerous ways.

 

For many people, the notion of self-aware artificial intelligence and synthetic human bodies is tantalizing and exciting. Of course, talking like a human and looking like a human are two separate technological pursuits. You can have a humorous, empathetic chatbot that is confined to CPUs and hard drives and has no physical presence, a brain without a body. Then there are engineers and scientists trying to create a realistic human body that can jump and spin and run and pick up things like humans do, but it would just be executing pre-programmed commands with no intelligence other than what is needed to maintain balance and identify obstacles. The Holy Grail would be to combine the two, a human-replicated personality inside a human-replicated body. Despite what Hollywood would have us believe, this electric dream is still a long way off, but as technological advances accelerate, so does the pace at which this goal can be achieved.

Tech CEO/celebrities like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos make frequent public proclamations about the future and also devote a lot of resources to making their visions come to life. It almost feels inevitable that, barring a cataclysmic global disaster or societal collapse, that we will one day have robots walking among us, fulfilling a number of duties.

So what should we as Christians make of this? The Bible doesn’t speak directly about AI or androids, but it speaks volumes on the hearts and hands of the people who would make it a reality. It is clear from Scripture that God created us to do work. He didn’t put Adam and Eve in the garden and tell them to just enjoy the view; He told them  to work the land (Gen. 2:15). Several Bible passages warn against laziness and extol the virtues of work (Prov. 21:251 Thess. 4:112 Tim. 2:6, and many more). This doesn’t mean that we must all be manual laborers and any automation is bad, but I don’t think that living like the porcine blubbards in the movie Wall-E is what God had in mind for the human race. There is satisfaction in a job well done and that is how God intended for it to be.

 

What about morally dubious interactions with robots? Is it really cheating to have intercourse with an android? What about a lonely soul who falls in love with an artificial person? What about platonic friendship? Who wouldn’t like to have a bond like Captain Picard and Data?

God created us as sentient beings with physical and emotional capabilities and needs. We have no assurance that these needs will be fulfilled, but Psalms 37:4 tells us to delight in the Lord, and He will give us the desires of our heart. The key is “delighting in the Lord,” finding serenity and satisfaction in Him. Perhaps He will then reward you by fulfilling your desires, or perhaps you will find that the things you desire are not worth pursuing after all. Craving sexual satisfaction to the point of sleeping with an android is not a godly desire. Finding emotional and relational connection with artificial intelligence is a bit stickier, especially since some people have impairments or are too isolated to allow for normal human contact. But heaven forbid this should ever become commonplace. How sick would our society be when people actually prefer the company of soulless, factory-made machines to living, breathing people knit in the womb by God’s hands?

I know I probably sound like a stodgy old man grumbling about the technology steamroller, but as we have already seen in countless instances, technology can easily lead to greater isolation and emotional distance, despite physical proximity. Most of all, it can be an idol, and there is nothing we humans love more than worshiping ourselves.

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Tonight on the Write Stuff — Man and Machine: How Wide the Divide with Frank Creed

It’s the stuff of sci-fi — when man and machine combine so perfectly it creates a whole new being – a cybernetic organism where the artificial implants and the natural impulses fight for dominance. This is when speculative fiction really comes to play as we express ideas and thought about this unique quality of man’s intelligence and the machines we create to serve us.

In today’s world, we see an increasing dependence on technology and machinery to make our lives easier, our work faster, our interactions more spontaneous, and increase the quality of our lives. From pacemakers, to prosthetic limbs, and chips to be implanted in us to track us, one has to wonder how wide is the divide between man and machine?

Will this dependence affect our free will? Can we eventually ‘turn off’ the sectors in our brain to stop us from making bad choices? If we want our children to have certain color eyes, we can manipulate the genes to do that and come with the child of our design. With all these possibilities, how will it affect our thoughts on faith, morals, and values? Will we be overridden by the machine someday and…”sin no more?”

Join me for this fascinating discussion with author Frank Creed. You can call in at 646-595-2083, press 1 to be live on air. Or, you can download the WLUV radio mobile app today. Tune in!

 Frank CreedFrank Creed is a novelist of Christian speculative fiction. His favorite sub-genre to write in is Christian cyber-punk!              

 Frank’s shorter fiction has been published in anthologies as well as e-zines.

Frank Creed is the founder of the Lost Genre Guild, an online group of writers, artists and fans of Christian speculative fiction.

When Heaven, Hell, and Man Battle for the Soul

Original image courtesy of Bernat Casero, via Flickr Creative Commons

Original image courtesy of Bernat Casero, via Flickr Creative Commons

1 Peter 5:8

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whohe may devour”

Hollywood tends to bombard us with images of Satan. No really, it does. Several actors have portrayed the Devil in several ways. Most notably: Elizabeth Hurley in Bedazzled, Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate, Robert Hughes in the Twilight Zone episode, The Howling Man and many others. Hollywood, for some reason, loves to have human actors play as the Devil.

At the same time, the gilded pool of celebrities also has had actresses and actors play God, angels, Jesus or hybrids of some kind — demigods and the like.

Often the movies are portrayed in such a way that Satan can be seen as misunderstood or ‘not quite so bad’ as depicted in the movie with Nicholas Cage called Drive Angry (which in my opinion was awful but if you liked it, more power to you). There’s a scene where the Accountant says something to the effect of (and I paraphrase) “He [The Devil] isn’t a monster” or something like that. Honestly, the movie didn’t leave that much of an impact on me.

But when it comes to spiritual warfare, we are not talking about a mischievous child playing pranks. We are not referring to a misunderstood literary character. We are talking about a being who sole mission is to distract, mislead, and convince you to turn away from God. By any means necessary.

In times past, the Devil had been portrayed with a pitch fork, horns, and red skin. Now, he is portrayed as a suave, calculating but quite irresistible person. There is a contrast between these two images that I find interesting: With the ‘pitch fork’ Satan, the visual image of Satan showed itself distinctive from man. The more modern image is the one that is more frightening…because it isn’t distinctive. As a matter of fact, the image of Satan has morphed into one people seem to readily accept and believe than their belief in God.

And this…is the battle in spiritual warfare…when the enemy is so subtle, so cunning, you don’t even know he’s the enemy.

In my opinion, this is the problem. When Heaven, Hell, and Man battle for the Soul we need to know who is the enemy, who is the soldier, and who is the commander.

With me to talk about this is Frank Lattimore, author of the debut novel ‘Freedom Fight’ as we go into spiritual warfare.

Feel free to call and ask questions of our guests. You can call in at 646-595-2083 press 1 and you’ll be live on air. Or, you can listen to use live via the web by clicking the link here: http://tobtr.com/s/5643209. Or, you can download the WLUV Radio app on your mobile device and listen to us that way. There are all kinds of ways to connect so join us.