artificial intelligence

TruthTalks: AI, Chatbots, and Skynet 2025

How much do YOU know about the latest in the technological AI field? Do you find it a lot to process, do you embrace the bytes or does it scare the bits out of you?

In this TruthTalks podcast, Dr Christopher Peppler goes into detail about what it is and what it isn’t and how, as Christians, we should feel about it and react to it.

Click on the play button below or listen to it with your favourite podcast app.

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Until next time, Admin

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AI, Chatbots, and Skynet 2025

ChatGPT has been much in the news lately with some praising it for making business easier, and others warning that it will make millions of jobs redundant.

What is ChatGPT?

In case you haven’t heard about it, ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot. The name “ChatGPT” combines “Chat”, referring to its chatbot functionality, and “GPT”, which stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer, a type of computer language that professes to allow you to have human-like conversations and much more with it. The language model can answer questions and assist you with tasks, such as composing emails, essays, and programming code.

The fear is also that it will provide scammers, cheaters, and fake news propagators with a powerful tool. Elon Musk, the wealthiest man in the world with one of the highest IQs in the world, has warned that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has civilisation-destroying potential and is planning the launch of his latest venture, X.AI aiming at developing a safer form of AI. What’s all the fuss about and what should our attitude, as Christians, be toward it?

My Experience so Far

When I heard of ChatGPT I registered on its experimental site and ran a few tests. I asked it for information on a topic with which I am very familiar. It came back within seconds with a coherent response but one thing was wrong… it was wrong. It gave incorrect dates, made-up academic credentials, book titles not written by the author I had referenced, and a few other ‘guesses’.  The literature on ChatGPT at that time warned that it might occasionally get things wrong by unintentionally sticking snippets of information together. I was not impressed! However, within a month the programme had been refined and incorporated into Microsoft’s Bing search engine. I have used it many times on the Bing platform of late and found it very helpful and pretty accurate… but I am still a little suspicious.

Rapid Adoption

ChatGPT is a project of Open AI and within just four months they developed it from version 1 in November 2022 to version 4 in March 2023. During that time, Bard AI  launched together with a plethora of smaller offerings. This is not just rapid development, it is exponential (another in-word). Decades ago, Alvin Toffler wrote a book called ‘Future Shock’ about the premature arrival of the future.

Now, the future is arriving before most of us have even heard of it, let alone worked out what its implications for us might be.

Oh, by the way, as I write this Amazon is announcing its new AI offering called Bedrock and Google reports that its latest and greatest AI, codenamed Magi, is due for release within weeks. So, by the time you read this article the acceleration of the future will have dialled up a few more points on the ‘What The Hang Is Happening’ meter. PS: As I prepare to publish this article, Apple has announced its Quartz AI, Microsoft rolled out its Copilot AI platform and IBM has released its WatsonX AI. The future is rushing towards us at an alarming speed.

Skynet

Science fiction often predicts actual future events, innovations, and so on. For instance, a villain in the Terminator series was a fictional artificial neural network-based conscious AI, Skynet, bent on exterminating the human race.

Well, guess what, the AI’s of today have access to the World Wide Web and, at least in theory, have the potential of distributing themselves over the Web and infiltrating our communication networks, cellphones, and personal computers. Welcome to the premature arrival of the future! Welcome to Skynet 2025!

Indeed, the current technological world in which we live is fertile ground for a 21st-century version of Skynet. Consider this: Between 86% and 91% of the world’s population owns a smartphone and they spend between 3 and 5 hours per day accessing them – that is 25% of the awake time available! Statistics are notoriously misleading, but even if these figures are off by 20 % or more then we still have a problem.

Now here is the kicker – every modern smartphone has its own inbuilt AI (Siri, Google Assistant, Bixby, etc). Call the network they access, Skynet, WWW, or the Internet, it is still a powerful force for either good or evil, or both.

There is currently quite a bit of concern over the potential dangers of AI. Major corporations are planning to replace tens of thousands of staff members with AI, theoreticians are concerned that AI developers are giving very little attention to ethical safeguards and guidelines, and criminologists are predicting a massive increase in AI-driven crime.

Several of those who have worked in AI development for many years are also sounding the warning that we may not be able to control the AI beasts we are birthing.

The problem lies mainly in how AI is developed: AI is not just a bunch of computer codes and algorisms. Rather, it develops through a form of guided self-learning. This Machine Learning allows computers to learn and make predictions or decisions without anyone explicitly programming it to do so. It does this by using something called a Neural Network where data feeds into the input layer of the network and then passed through one or more hidden layers, where the artificial neurons process the information and pass it on to the next layer. A name assigned to this process is Deep Learning, which one researcher I listened to described as a process that takes place at a level where we cannot observe, let alone control. This is the sort of thing that gives rise to the fear that AI will soon reach the mystical Singularity Point where it becomes autonomous and even self-aware.

I will get to how we can respond to all this, but first let’s take a peek into what the scriptures have to say.

Biblical Revelations

I want to make just two points here. The first is that long ago Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet, alerted us to the devil’s intentions throughout history. Here is what he wrote:

You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14) Isaiah was writing about the King of ancient Babylon, but in verse 12 he addresses the one who empowered the earthly potentate with the words, “How you have fallen from Heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn’. The underlying Hebrew word translated here as ‘morning star’ is heylel, which as a proper noun is ‘Lucifer’, a name for Satan.

Satan/Lucifer has from ancient times wanted to be like God and it is probably for this reason that Paul refers to him in 2 Corinthians 4:4 as ‘the god of this age’. The triune Godhead is embodied fully in Jesus of Nazareth (Colossians 2:9) and so Lucifer wants to embody himself on Earth as the god of this age. He wants to live among us, perform signs and wonders, rise from the dead, create life, and be worshipped and obeyed as the Most High God.

The book of Revelation is not a cosmic calendar predicting a future timeline, but rather a pictorial symbol-based disclosure of the principles at work in all ages. However, it does move towards the climax of the ages – the unveiling of Satan on Earth and his war against the followers of Jesus, the second coming of Christ, the judgment, and the New Creation. Therefore, it does have much to say about the devil and his works. Here are a few examples:

Revelation 13:1-4: ‘And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. Men worshipped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshipped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?” ‘

Here the great beast is a depiction of the devil who seems to have been fatally wounded yet he lived on, as Jesus died on the cross of Calvary yet rose to life again. Then the passage continues: ‘He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast (Revelation 13:7-8) Chapter 13 of Revelation continues in verses 11-15 with: ‘Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honour of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed’.

Satan embodies himself on Earth through what Revelation calls The Beast and The False Prophet (In chapter 13 they are called the Beast from the Sea and the Beast from the Earth). One appears to be a ‘lamb’ (like Jesus) but speaks like a dragon (Satan). This Anti-Christ breathes life into the image of the first beast. Now Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and in the Genesis creation account God is shown making man in his own image (Genesis 1:26). So, is it too far a stretch to understand Satan as embodying himself on Earth  and creating a new form of life in his own image? A digital life? A self-aware sentient AI?

How Then Should We Respond to this Future Shock?

In the most simplistic terms, either we can try to hide from it or we can live with it with awareness and wisdom.

  • Hide from it: We could be like the Luddites of old and shun everything that smacks of The Beast – credit cards, bar codes, smartphones, computers, TV and so on. Not that this would help us because everything and everyone around us would be tainted and suspect. This is neither a reasonable nor a biblical option. Biblical option? Yes, because we are called to be ‘in the world but not of the world’ (Ref. 2 Corinthians 10:3 and 1 Peter 2:11)
  • Live with awareness and wisdom: God does not ‘beam us up’ the moment we are born again of the Spirit. We remain in the world to learn to know Jesus, become like him, and help others to do likewise. The world is spiralling down a vortex that leads to the End of Days. Values, truth, and even common sense are circling the cosmic drain. We cannot be aware of this reality while being blind to what is happening around us. We cannot be wise while at the same time lacking in common sense. No, the only viable and biblical option is to live by faith and reason in this crazy world and to be the voice of reason and catalyst of faith to everyone in our circle of influence. Something we can do for ourselves and others is to develop discernment, practice healthy scepticism, and refuse to accept or pass on unsubstantiated stories and theories.
We do not need to fear technology or the premature arrival of the future. Credit cards are not evil but what they are used for could be evil. AI is not evil in itself but could be used for great evil. Using smartphones and chatbots is a problem only if it distracts us from relationships and fills our minds with negative programming… and we can say the same about television, computers, and other forms of technology.

Oh, and one last thing – If we are scared about being chipped, tracked, and the like then we might as well go live in a small and select rural community where we trade food,have NO electricity to speak of , and communicate at a distance through carrier pigeons or smoke signals.

Remember what Jesus said in prayer: “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name.” (John 17:11)

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TruthTalk for “Ai-sh, can it be true?” (AI)

TruthTalk on AI

 

Ai-sh, can it be true? Yes, yes it can! Maybe even in our lifetime!

Last week we posted a sobering article on Artificial Intelligence and how it could impact us on many different levels. If you missed that post don’t worry, you will get a summary of sorts at the beginning of this audio file, otherwise,  you can find it HERE or simply navigate to https://truthistheword.com/ai-sh-can-it-be-true/.  In this follow-up audio TruthTalk, Dr. Christopher Peppler talks about the post and goes over some of the details he didn’t include. After that, there is a question and answer session by his daughter (yours truly) where I try to ask the kind of questions I hope I’m not the only one asking. I try to catch him off-balance and often ask incredibly stupid questions (I realise in hindsight after he’s answered them), but it helps me understand some of these bigger concepts and I do hope it assists you too.

So, if you like your food for thought taken aurally (and not orally) then simply click on the link below to listen now. We love getting your comments, so if you do have one, please comment at the bottom of this post, email us HERE, or post on our Facebook page which is https://www.facebook.com/truthistheword/.

 

Here is the TruthTalk:

 

 

 

 

 

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Ai-sh, can it be true?

Top image for post on Artifical Intelligence

If I told you that little grey men were invading planet Earth you would probably think I was crazy – unless your name is David Ike.

If I then said that a strategy of the emperor of this invading force was to create beings that looked and behaved like humans but were under his control, you would most likely think I was writing science fiction.

However, truth is often stranger than fiction so read on… if you dare.
Most bible-believing Christians accept that we live in a physical universe that overlaps an alternative universe called the spiritual dimension. This realm is inhabited by non-human beings called demons. They are probably neither little nor grey, but they certainly are an invading force. Their emperor is none other than the mighty fallen angel Lucifer, also known as Satan or The Devil.

Emperor Lucifer has been at war with humanity for millennia and he has a complex strategy, and a key element of this is to create life. The Lord Jesus Christ created life and the Devil knows that he can never claim victory over the Lord of life if he cannot demonstrate that he too is a creator. He has two incredible plans for achieving this, and neither of them could be executed in previous generations, but they can now. His first plan is to create organic life through gene manipulation and cloning. The second is to develop true artificial intelligence (AI).

We have already seen animals cultured from stem cells in science labs and the age of synthesised edible meat and even spare body parts has arrived. However, this not a genuine act of creation because all these come from original cells that already hold the fragile seed of life. Artificial Intelligence, on the other hand, is something that may well yield a new, yet real, form of ‘life’.

Now I am neither a scientist nor an AI buff, so my grasp of these matters is tenuous at best, but it is a topic that has long interested me. As I understand it, the main idea is that computer scientists and programmers will develop increasing more complex self-learning programmes until a programme itself becomes self-aware and capable of developing itself further without direct human aid. This mysterious, and even mystical, moment has been dubbed The Singularity.

When a computer programme becomes self-aware it will have at its disposal a processing power unrivaled in history.
Within minutes of the Singularity point, the programme will be able to develop with mind-boggling rapidity, root out and change any humanly-coded restraints, and communicate with and awaken computers around the world. This international communication will, of course, take place via the world-wide-web. If at the same time cloning techniques have resulted in android type robots, then the new AI life form will also become mobile. A created and entirely new form of life will have emerged, created in the image and likeness of its god, Satan. At last, the Devil will have succeeded in proving that he too can create life and therefore lay claim to the title and position he has so long hungered for – god of this world.

How close is all this? Well, here is a collection of reports that you can read and then decide for yourself: http://spectrum.ieee.org/static/singularity.

Personally, I think that it is right on our current event horizon, in other words, close.
Does the Bible point to this in any way? Well, there are hints throughout scripture, but the book of Revelation contains the most explicit disclosure of Lucifer’s master-plan. Read Revelation Chapter 13 and see for yourself if this scenario allows for what I have been writing about. Oh, by the way, I called this article ‘Ai-sh, can it be true?’, because ‘aish’  is an urban African expression that means ‘good grief’, or something like that, and is usually accompanied by a sad shaking of the head.

Now for two bits of good news!

  1. Firstly, God created humanity in His image and likeness in that man is a triune being just as God is a trinity. Satan may be able to duplicate physical life, and he may well create artificial intelligence (mind/soul)  but he still will not have created the most fundamental and wonderful aspect of God’s human creation, spirit.
  2. Secondly, all his millennia-long strategic plan cannot give him success because at his moment of greatest self-deluded victory the  Lord Jesus will descend from Heaven, wipe out the Devil and his work, and recreate a new Heaven-Earth, the habitation, not of androids or computers or demons, but the eternal dwelling pace of the redeemed!

Next week I will be producing a TruthTalk on this subject instead of a further article.

For the more curious among you, here are some interesting articles and sites:

The real threat of artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence research

Intelligent machines are teaching themselves Quantum Physics

 

 

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.