Marvin Minsky (1927-2016) was a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in the USA. He is famous for his catchy phrase that the human mind is nothing but “a three-pound computer made of meat.” Minsky was an atheist and worked in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). He was convinced that ‘free will’ is an illusion and he asserted that “people should give their money to AI research rather than their churches, as only AI would truly give them eternal life.” Minsky believed passionately that science and technology can solve all our problems including the death of death. This faith is sometimes called scientism.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) hopes that machines can perform intelligent tasks like reasoning, learning and developing new technologies. While no one is expecting parity with human intelligence today or in the near future, AI has huge implications for how we live. AI devotees trust in the power of science and technology to solve all our problems and eventually to defeat physical death. Some call this ‘Infinite Progress’. Key figures in this movement include Hans Moravec, Kevin Warwick and Marvin Minsky. AI followers predict that brilliant scientists will devise very clever and creative computers and fragile humans will be able to upload their minds onto the hard drives of these fabulous machines, so leaving their bodies behind to decay. There is also the hope that humans will merge with sophisticated technologies. Arms will be replaced by mechanical parts and fleshy hearts and lungs will become redundant. Humans will morph into indestructible cyborgs like The Terminator and we will enjoy eternal life thanks to AI. This is the proud faith of Minsky and his many friends. One way to talk intelligently about the Christian faith is to contrast faith in AI with faith in Jesus. Do we trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection or in AI?
Four Ways of Looking at the Story
Materialist faith: “We believe that science and technology will solve all our problems. Death will be defeated by clever boffins.”
Relativist faith: “We believe that scientism is true if it works for you. There are many other ways to find salvation.”
Gnostic faith: “We believe that death is not a disaster. It is the great hour of the freedom of the soul.”
Christian faith: “We believe that Jesus Christ has destroyed death (2 Timothy 1:10). Trust in Jesus. “I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25)
1) Did Marvin Minsky have a dangerous faith?
2) Do we have hope in the resurrection or hope in a robot replacement?
3) Have you heard of ‘transhumanism’?