Ponderings about AI & Theos paper

  • It’s 5:00 a.m., here in Los Angeles.
  • I’m still mulling over Theos Briefing Paper: Drivers, Doctors, Friends – Who will AI replace?. “This briefing paper looks at whether we think robots and artificial intelligence will (or should) replace us, and if so in which capacity. We are familiar with the idea of self–driving cars, which have been expected on our streets for years. We have long used – indeed depended on –technology in medicine. And thanks to imaginative depictions, such as Kazuo Ishiguro’s recent novel Klara and the Sun, we are becoming familiar with the idea of artificial friends. But do we want them? Our response naturally says much about the future, but also about the present, and the idea of our selves.”
  • And it occurred to me…
    • If I started a forum … for AI robots only, would it need moderators?
    • I’m thinking of some relatives I wouldn’t mind replacing.
    • AI robots - the perfect church congregation?

Not sure about you but I feel like the arrival of self driving cars is very timely for someone my age. One less thing to be dependent on other humans for.

No more than those idiot mechanical dogs. I’d as soon pet a rock as one of those testaments to human cleverness. At least the rock is itself and not yet one more mirror on ourselves.


Get some sleep

Jokes aside, it possibly wouldn’t need a moderator unless you programmed them to specifically break rules that you enforced. I don’t even know how they would hold a stable conversation that gives off the impression of it being an actual human. They wouldn’t be able to freely think and respond to messages like us, only pre- programmed ones that we instill that are very specific. I’m not educated much on this subject so I could be wrong, but I think that making a forum of AI conversations would be pretty difficult. It would feel soulless.

Also, seems that a church congregation of AI robots is perfect. Too perfect at that. Would basically be a repeated speech of the Bible with no emotion put into it.

Now for both of these things, if we’re going off of how you would learn from them or the main actual points (would AI forums need mods and would a church congregation of AI be good),
-No, unless specifically programmed to break rules or aren’t taught properly while making (so let’s make that a maybe instead of no)
-Maybe? You could learn if it was focused and perfect in terms of speech formation and method itself, but with there being no emotion or spirit in it, I can see you zoning out.

I could be getting some things or wordings wrong, I only slept like, 5 hours last night : )


I used my latest surgery in October 2021 as an excuse to give up driving completely. Living in Los Angeles, I’ve feared since 1986 running over a kid dressed in black running across the street in the dark, especially in rainy weather.


How awful. Fear of something like that is what kept me from getting my license when I first learned to drive. Of course it was cats and dogs I feared would turn me into their executioner. I have to say I’ve been concentrating on changing my driving habits for a while now. No reason to put myself in a position where I’m even tempted to hurry and I avoid high traffic times religiously. Yet habits have to be purposefully changed no matter how clear the logic.


I don’t know much about AI either but I’ve read recently that some AI chatbots are so complex that others don’t seem to recognize it’s not a human.


Is it because the bots are so clever or that we are slipping, becoming more bot-like?

1 Like

It is a commentary on the level of discourse one engages in. The more reactively demeaning (think political debates at their worst), the easier it is for bots to match actual human speech (and surpass it in those cases). A year or two back, I think I brought up a book on this forum: “The Most Human Human” by Brian Christian which is an interesting read on this very thing. And while it might be dated by now for the world of AI, I think what he wrote would still apply. Essentially, that if you only have a conversational exchange one or two levels deep (in other words not an extended exchange with many replies and replies to replies that go deep into any specific subject) - then AI bots will easily be indistinguishable from humans. And even, sadly, for many of us - even extended conversations probably never go deep enough that an AI couldn’t fool somebody. But if you can go “conversationally deep”, as in - making replies that require understanding and taking context into account so that intelligent connections can be made going beyond what would be accessible to a database search for what responses have ever been given to ‘xyz’ - which is what bots rely on to sound intelligent - as long as you can go deep like that, then a bot will not be able to keep up with you (and yet - in fairness - a good number of humans might not either - so you still might not be able to make a distinction.)

As you might guess, moderators sometimes wonder how many posts could have been ‘bot’ generated! And if they were - would the seeming atmosphere and collective intelligence of the forum be raised or lowered? :thinking:

[Now … if only they could take all their impressive GPT-3 (and 4 coming I guess) technologies that generate all these amazing essays, and somehow get that tech in use for the dumber-than-dirt answering machine bots used by companies to whom your call apparently is not important enough to hire anybody to help you … that could be amazing! "NO - I do not want to start at the beginning of all the menu options again! And the first five times you informed me about how important my call allegedly is to you - were probably sufficient - I think your message - for what it’s worth - has been sufficiently blared with all its stark contrast to the reality of the situation!]


I wonder if part of what fuels this desire to say or reveal less is a preference not to stand out, perhaps for fear of seeming peculiar? Being human is not for the faint of heart.

1 Like

Then there are all the spam/scam bot calls we get on our landline which we still have for the overnight interrogation of and reporting on my wife’s pacemaker by another bot of sorts. They are all spoofed numbers on caller ID. They don’t use AI to choose the wording of the pre-recorded voice message that you first hear! One phishing one is that they can help you “lower down” your severe debt.

Where can I sign up to debate one of these bots? :sunglasses:

I’ve often wondered about the timing of a new philosophical insight in relation to AI becoming more and more indistinguishable from human beings. Or as Elon Musk might appreciate, with the conjunction of a technological and philosophical singularity, what comes next?

My youngest is visually impaired and may (or may not) be able to get a driver’s license. If she is able to, it won’t probably be for quite some time. Self driving cars seem like a wonderful way for VI adults to experience a normal amount of freedom and independence that is not available to them.

I think Pet Rocks are fantastic. I actually have quite a few I keep bring back from “Up North” (Northern Michigan) from our beaches. I love the independence of Pet Rocks, ease of training, safety (they don’t bite or claw, AND are not part of the food chain themselves), economy, they stay in the yard and don’t dig under fences or plants, easy to clean up after, they don’t annoy the neighbors, vet bills are unbeatable and you rarely have to concern yourself with end of life considerations for a pet rock. Really, could there be a more perfect pet?


Having just erred in choosing a much more demanding pet you make a good case. But dogs really are my people so I’ll just have to rise to the challenge. My garden designer neighbor is appalled that anyone with a nice garden (especially one he designed) would let a dog mess it up. I just tell him if I really did have to choose the garden wouldn’t necessarily win out. But I’d never let go of either of course. But my garden wasn’t his ir any other designer’s baby.

1 Like

Could be fun to see what would happen, if there were a few AI forum members that had been training in a human forum for quite some time and then “translate” to one made entirely of “innocent” AI members. Then have a programmer toss in the bone “Topic: origin of sin” or “Topic: Free will, or Determinism”. Maybe we would finally have answers. Or the answers would be as individualized as they are already!

1 Like

The Library of Michigan seems to be appended as a last resort at the end of automated phone trees all over state government. “Dial ………for such-and-such division of the Michigan Department of Byzantium.” Honestly, these trees should start with the message, “Abandon hope all ye who have called in here.” The condemned, by the time they have nearly entirely given up hope, while hanging on the line, trying to decide if they should presss 666 to hear all the inadequate options yet again or dial 13 to be released from this fate, are without warning auto-transferred to the Library reference desk, where a human being answers “Hello! This Kendel at the Library of Michigan. How can I help you?” By this time, they need therapy, and we have been trained by experience to provide it as well as the assurance that their state government is not populated entirely by low-quality AI bots. People are so entirely stunned to hear a person; at first they can’t speak. They are looking for something to press on the number pad. I repeat to the silence, “Hello. You’ve reached the Library of Michigan.” The caller stammers something like, “Uh…I…uh…I was um trying to contact ….um … somebody about my um ………issue. How did I get to the library. What library is this?” “This happens all the time. Let me see if I can find a direct contact for you. If that doesn’t work, here’s our number. Call us back.” I should mention that WE don’t have a phone tree at the Library.


It wouldn’t be a “debate” in any sense of that word (unless you enjoy talking to yourself in the mirror as a kind of ‘debate’). It’s just throwing words against a wall - a ‘wall’ that can parrot smart-sounding word salads back to you based on historical associations and responses to the phrases you used.

No concerns about dementia either. On the other hand … no memories to forget in the first place! If rocks could talk! Tolkien had trees talking in his world, and they had a slow and steady enough perspective on time to both fascinate and exasperate impatient hobbits. But imagine what talking stones would have even over trees yet! Too bad we never heard more from or about the “rock giants” of the Misty Mountains that made some brief cameo appearance in the hobbit, never to come up in any other middle-earth tale again so far as I can recall.


Take a look. It’s happening.

  • And then there’s Michael R. Licona’s book: Paul Meets Muhammad, first published by Baker Books, February 1, 2006.
    • A fictional debate between hologram versions of Paul and Muhammad regarding the resurrection of Jesus, presenting arguments from each “person’s perspective.”
    • From the Introduction:
      • “Since Jesus’s resurrection is the foundation of the Christian faith and is an event denied by Islam’s holy Scripture called the Qur’an, both Muslims and Christians can agree upon two things: (1) If Jesus did not rise from the dead, Christianity is false, and (2) if Jesus was resurrected, Christianity is true and Islam is false. The resurrection of Jesus, therefore, is a good topic for discussion among Muslims and Christians. Did it occur? Is the evidence
        strong enough that a rational person would be justified in believing that it occurred merely based on the evidence?”
  • Wait! “Either/Or”? not “Both/And”? Gee, that sounds like something involving the Law of Non-contradiction, … something some folks–in Biologos and outsiders–seem willing to run roughshod over in their zeal to promote a monotheistic united humanity.
1 Like

I had forgotten them! What a delightful thought.
I do often wonder about the life of whatever rock I pick up on the beach, particularly the heterogeneous ones, which are on to at least their 2nd petrification, and how there could be such variety of them churning up from the Huron, Superior or Michigan rock tumblers.
Looking through some of my Michigan waterfall photos from vacations the other day, I saw some wonderful mossy boulders and sun-baked slabs that would make fine characters in a story.

I know I have posted this before, but my favorite “pet rock” is this Petosky stone given me by a sweet couple from Michigan who were patients.


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.