The Whole World in His Hands

imagesDonald Trump wants to ‘make America great again’ but what America does he mean? Is he thinking of the 50’s, 60’s when? Britain recently withdrew from the EU. The Brits chose to duck back into their island home and return to their roots. But what Britain are they looking for? What era? Can they go back to the way it was or must they face a new reality?

In our own Australian federal elections we voted with great uncertainty. Our nation is deeply split. Neither major party impressed and we showed our displeasure.

We may be living in the most tumultuous period in recent history. “The stakes are too high to tolerate business as usual,” said Jerome Glenn, CEO of the Millennium Project whose recent study refers to issues like future impacts of artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, organized crime, asymmetric warfare, and how to produce enough food, water, and energy for another 2.3 billion people in just 35 years. The Millennium Project undertakes ongoing research into population forecasts and lifestyle challenges. (www.millennium-project.org)

They are not thinking about going back but coping with the emerging future. Some of the questions they posed surprised me. Between the years 2025 to 2050 they asked: (a) “Do we have the right to genetically change ourselves and future generations into a new or several new species?”

(b) “Is it ethical for society to manage the creation of future elites who have augmented themselves with artificial intelligence and genetic engineering?”

(c) “Should elimination of aging be available to everyone or just to those who can afford it?”

images-1(d) “Should artificial life (life-mimicking software, sentient robots, etc.) or animals whose intelligence has been increased to near human levels, have rights?”

They also had two very interesting headings. (1) Principles related to Science, (2) Principles related to Religion and Spirituality. The science group proclaims their path to truth is more reliable than religious faith. The religionists say life is a divine unalterable gift, compassion is required for justice and the family in all its forms is the foundation of social values.

There is much detail in the 299 page report but it raises questions which will be have to be addressed very soon.

Albert Einstein said: “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

We Christians are called to disciple nations so get ready for this. “In 1950, whites were 28 percent of world population and Africans 9 percent, a ratio of three-to-one. In 2060, the ratio will remain the same. But the colors will be reversed. People of African ancestry will be 25 percent of the world`s population. People of European descent will have fallen to 9.8 percent.

“More arresting is that the white population is shrinking not only in relative but in absolute terms. Two hundred million white people, one in every six on earth—a number equal to the entire population of France, Britain, Holland and Germany—will vanish by 2060.” (Whites down to 10% of World Population by 2060 – Does It Matter? Patrick J. Buchanan, May 2008)

Buchanan is a veteran journalist-commentator. His report is based on factual statistics. No indicators in his assessment of anything but change ahead. He added this sentence, “The Caucasian race is going the way of the Mohicans.” (The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper, published in 1826, is a fictional story. It describes the fate of the Mohicans who disappeared as the early colonists moved in).

Paul Ehrlich was an American biologist who constantly warned of future population growth and limited resources. In 1966 after a taxi ride he wrote: “I have understood the population explosion intellectually for a long time. I came to understand it emotionally one stinking hot night in Delhi a couple of years ago… The temperature was well over 100, and the air was a haze of dust and smoke. The streets seemed alive with people. People eating, people washing, people sleeping. People visiting, arguing, and screaming. People thrusting their hands through the taxi window, begging. People clinging to buses. People herding animals. People, people, people, people.”

The future certainly appears to be overwhelming unless we truly believe ‘He has the Whole World in His Hands.’ In a recent newsletter Dick Leggatt, President of the Derek Prince Ministries offered a prayer. In part he prayed…”Lord, I admit that I have been shaken by what I have seen taking place in the world around me. I repent for wondering whether You are in control of what is taking place in my nation. I ask You to forgive me now for those times when I have doubted You. With this prayer, I affirm the truth of Psalm 2. You, O God, are in control. You have installed Jesus, Your Son, as King forever on Your throne. He is in charge. You are in control. Rather than acting indifferent to that truth, I choose now to offer myself to You in intercession. I ask You now: please give me Your heart for my nation. Help me to see it as You see it. Allow me to be part of Your solution as You bring restoration and redemption to my land. You are in control, O Lord. You have all power and authority to bring the change and breakthroughs that are so desperately needed. Amen.

 

 

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AI, The Rise of Machines!

imagesStephen Hawking has warned Artificial Intelligence (AI) ‘could spell the end of the human race.’ Microsoft genius Bill Gates (pictured) said he could not understand why people are not concerned about AI. American Nobel Prize laureate Herbert Simon said: “It is not my aim to surprise or shock you—but the simplest way I can summarize is to say that there are now in the world machines that can think, that can learn and that can create. Moreover, their ability to do these things is going to increase rapidly until – in a visible future – the range of problems they can handle will be coextensive with the range to which the human mind has been applied.” He famously said, “A proper study of mankind is the science of design.”

Albert Einstein said it best: “The mathematical precision of the universe reveals the mathematical mind of God.”

Fast forward to May 2016. Elon Musk is the billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla. He met with the US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. The Defense Department spokesman Peter Cook said the meeting was ‘to find out what is going on in the world of innovation.’ Musk is a South African born American, who is listed as 38 in the world’s most powerful people. He has a personal fortune of more than $13 billion. His company Tesla is pioneering the world of fully-electric cars and at SpaceX he is pioneering space technology.

At a meeting of technical entrepreneurs Musk declared artificial intelligence is on the verge of changing our lives. Musk said we will need to have ‘neural laces’ implanted in the brain to keep up with the sophisticated computer data world. Neural laces were first mentioned in the Cultural novels by Iain M. Banks. Annalee Newitz, a prolific science and culture writer-editor wrote about ‘neural laces’ as ‘ A mesh that grows with your brain, it’s essentially a wireless brain-computer interface. But it’s also a way to program your neurons to release certain chemicals with a thought. And now, there’s a neural lace prototype in real life.” (Scientists Just Invented Neural Lace, Newitz, gizmodo.com)

Primates

images-1Brain implants have been tested on primates for the last five years. Their decision-making ability was improved by implanting an electrode array into their cerebral cortex. George Dvorsky, a Canadian specialist wrote: “Looking ahead to the future, and assuming safety and ongoing efficacy, it may even be possible to apply a similar intervention to healthy humans.”

Already a large workforce in Japan has been replaced by robots to interact with humans. A hotel in north Japan is totally run by robots.

I watched a YouTube presentation hosted by Mark Dice. In it he showed the most advanced artificial intelligence robot offering to destroy humans. That glitch was laughed off but it may provide a grim warning. Apparently Elon Musk posted that Killer Robots would be functioning by 2019 but that remark was quickly deleted. We do know some nations are considering replacing human soldiers with robots, a fact nearing reality. Stephen Wozniak, cofounder of Apple said, “if a computer is 100 times better than our brain, will it make the world perfect? Probably not, it will probably end up just like us, fighting.”

Human robots are a reality today. Sex robots are predicted to be in demand and available soon.

In a Reality Club Discussion Elon Musk wrote: “The pace of progress in artificial intelligence is incredibly fast. Unless you have direct exposure to groups like Deepmind, you have no idea how fast – it is growing at a pace close to exponential. The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year time frame.”

For years Hollywood has been killing humans with robots. The movie Terminator 3 was called ‘the Rise of the Machines.’

“Artificial intelligence will make religion obsolete within our lifetime” is an article by Dylan Love and published by The Daily Dot. I read it and after some consideration asked myself who is the better creator God or man? Let see, God created the universe, a spectacular demonstration.

Man can created brilliantly mainly because we are created in His image. We have gifts and talents capable of great things and we have proven that through the centuries.

Consider this quote from ‘Christianity for Skeptics’ by Steve Kumar and John Heininger: “According to most Christian philosophers, the greatest proof for the existence of God is the cosmic evidence. One of the most profound philosophical questions that has caused many debates and much discussion among philosophers through the centuries is, ‘Why is there something, rather than nothing?’ There is hardly a philosopher worth a grain of salt who has not struggled over this question. Everyone faces it, some ignore it, others deny it, but few answer it. Philosopher John Hicks writes, ‘For when we try to think about this infinitely fascinating universe in which we live we find that we are faced in the end with sheer mystery – the mystery of existence, of why there is a universe at all.’”

When I lived in Jerusalem I watched the people of Israel rely on the Word of God. Specifically they believe His assurances. “Do not fear, for I am with you,’ from Isaiah chapter 41, verse 10.

I read Matthew chapter 10, verse 31 which says, ‘don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.” (I guess that means robots too!)

It Started with the Answering Machine.

How could we explain our modern world to generations past? Back in the day some thought we could never fly. Colour television was beyond a dream. Now Google is about to develop robot clones of dead loved ones and celebrities. (Sputnik News, March 17, 2016) Yes, you will be able to preserve your favourite person in full robotic perfection!

images“Artificial intelligence experts speculate that in the not-so-distant future people will replace dead relatives with cloned robots installed with downloaded variants of that person’s brain,” according to a report this year. Vermont’s Tersem Movement Foundation is a research institute planning to “transfer human consciousness to computers and robots.” The Foundation director Bruce Duncan explained: “It’s like when people stuff a pet cat or dog. We don’t stuff humans, but this is a way of ‘stuffing’ their information, their personality and mannerisms.” (Sputnik News, March 17, 2016)

Is your mind spinning, like mine? What about a visit to Doctor Robot? Dr Berci Mesko MD, PhD, the Medical Futurist wrote a book “My Health, Upgraded.” On his website he wrote: Surgical robots become increasingly precise each day. Man–size robots can lift and move patients and transport them throughout the hospital. I held a PARO therapeutic robot in my arms. It was cute and calmed me. At a conference I once watched how a diminutive robot made an entire audience dance with it. It only takes the Xenex robot 10 minutes to disinfect a patient room with UV light. A robot called Tug works at hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area. It delivers food and medicine. It picks up waste and laundry. It navigates the halls without crashing into people”. (medicalfuturist.com)

But wait there’s more! A May 2016 story published by the Sydney Morning Herald reported on medical robots and specifically on doctors. The headline said, “The Robot will see you now.”

The Ying Ao sink foundry in southern China now has nine robots replacing 140 full-time workers. In a recent article, ‘China’s Robot Revolution’ the Guardian said: “Across China, factories are replacing humans with robots in a new automation-driven industrial revolution. And the effects will be felt around the world.” China is embracing robotics carefully, enthusiastically and systematically. They have a project entitled ‘Made in China 2025’. The aim is to reduce production costs by using more and more robots to improve efficiency and productivity and ultimately to reduce manufacturing costs. One Chinese entrepreneur was very direct. “Young people do not want to work on manual tasks. I’ll replace them with robots,” he said. Another forecast said 70 percent of jobs today will be replaced by robots by the end of this century. Doctors, lawyers, architects, pharmacists and accountants are all on the list.

images-1The Taub Centre for Social Policy Studies in Israel issued a report ‘A Picture of the Nation’, May 2016. They estimated ‘about 1 million Israelis (today) work in occupations at risk of computerization over the next two decades.” (Study Page 62)

Jobs at risk include tailors, watch repairers, telephone salesperson, data entry clerk, bankclerk. At medium risk they listed economist, historian, teaching assistant, bus driver, financial adviser. Of serious consideration was their estimate in the United States. 17 per cent of the workforce will be affected, in Germany 19 per cent. Similar impact will effect every country, that adopts new technologies.

Revolution

Are humans becoming obsolete in the work force, asked NBC News. “All signs point to yes,” they said. They analysed nine jobs humans are about to lose. Pharmacists, lawyers and paralegals, drivers, astronauts, store clerks, soldiers, babysitters, rescue workers, sports writers and reporters are all on the list of threatened jobs. We are living a robotic revolution.

Marshall Brain, the author of Robotic Nation, on his website wrote: “The computer power we will have in a home machine around 2050 will be utterly amazing. A typical home computer will have processing power and memory capacity that exceeds that of a human brain. What we will have in 2100 is anyone’s guess. The power of a million human brains on the desktop? It is impossible to imagine, but not unlikely.” (marshallbrain.com)

He also wrote: “People are talking optimistically about fielding a team of humanoid robotic soccer players able to beat the best human players in 2050. Imagine a team of C-3POs running and kicking as well as or better than the best human soccer stars, but never getting tired or injured.” (I’m not sure how much I’d pay to watch a bunch of robots at play?)

May 19, 2016 health writer Mike Adams spoke about workers demanding $15 an hour for jobs at fast food outlets. That same day Wendys in America announced 6000 restaurants will be converted to automated kiosks later in the year. (naturalnews.com)

I stood in a queue at a supermarket recently when I noticed the man behind me only had five or six items in his basket. “Hey mate, why don’t you pop down to the automated area? You’ll be much quicker,” I said. “No thanks, those things are only there to take our jobs,” he said. Reality check, right there.

So what comfort can we find? I draw on my faith. The Bible describes Jesus as ‘the same yesterday, today and forever.’ (Hebrews chapter 13, verse 8) He can never be improved. There will not be a 21st century model that replaces Him.

God also has the power to all that He has promised, we read in Romans chapter 4, verses 21. What about His promises? The Greek text for that word ‘promised’ describes an action which is viewed as having been completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated. The world around us may change, our lives may face turbulence and even Big Brother intervention. There is One who will never change or be obsolete. In this topsy-turvy world, we can rest in Him.