Saturday, October 7, 2023

Artificial Intelligence as Artificial Brilliance (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

To an English speaker without a knowledge of Greek, this article won't make a lot of sense, since the author is using two different ways of talking about Artificial Intelligence (Τεχνητή Νοημοσύνη and Τεχνητή Εὐφυΐα). The literal translation of Εὐφυΐα is the word "brilliance", though it really is another word for intelligence, but the other Greek word for intelligence, Νοημοσύνη, contains the word "nous" or "noetic", which in Orthodox theology is the highest faculty of the human being that has spiritual connotations. This article therefore is about replacing the Greek word Νοημοσύνη with Εὐφυΐα, though in English both mean "intelligence". To understand the difference, I have rendered Εὐφυΐα as "brilliance". It is an important theological discussion, but not applicable in English, so do not think that "Artificial Intelligence" should be replace with "Artificial Brilliance" in English.
Artificial Intelligence as Artificial Brilliance

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Nowadays, there is a lot of talk not only about Artificial Intelligence, but also about its consequences in our lives. Opinions are expressed about the benefits that will come from its implementation, but also the risks that result from the abolition of human freedom and the alteration of human rights.

Thus, the pioneers of Artificial Intelligence sounded the alarm of modern technology and emphasized that they must set limits.

For example, Geoffrey Hinton, who is described as "the father of Artificial Intelligence", in an interview he gave to the New York Times, explained that he left Google to speak freely about the dangers of Artificial Intelligence. In fact, he particularly emphasized that "some of the dangers arising from artificial intelligence Chatbots (software) were quite scary." “Right now, she's not smarter than us, as far as I can tell. But I think that soon it can be done."

Elon Musk is an engineer, inventor, and is the General Manager and Chief Technology Officer for the space technology company SpaceX, of which he is the founder, as well as the General Manager and Chief Technology Design Officer of automotive and energy systems and other companies, as he also investigates the symbiosis of humans and Artificial Intelligence, and has expressed his reservations about the way Artificial Intelligence is designed.

In his statements he referred to the fact that Artificial Intelligence "has the potential to destroy civilization and manipulate public opinion," "it is more dangerous than a poorly designed aircraft or car." That's why he said: "I honestly believe that we need to set safety rules for Artificial Intelligence." He also said that he will "start something I call 'TruthGPT' or an artificial intelligence that will search for the truth to understand the nature of the universe."

It is very characteristic that the World Health Organization, although it expresses its enthusiasm for the possibilities that Artificial Intelligence has, at the same time expresses its concerns about how it will be used in the health sector. It further highlights that the data used to train AI can be biased, producing misleading or inaccurate information that can create threats to health, equity, and how models can be used incorrectly, resulting in the production and dissemination of highly persuasive misinformation in the form of text, audio or video, which is difficult for the public to distinguish from credible health content. Therefore, as they emphasize, it is an "imperative need" to assess the risks of using large language models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT, in order to protect and promote human well-being."

To gain some knowledge of how Artificial Intelligence works I joined ChatGPT to see how it works. I asked it various questions and it answered as a man with a composed mind, and at the end it asked if I wanted it to give other more specific information about the questions I put to it.

It is an advanced technology that aims, as it is said, to serve man in his various scientific, medical and social needs, to help the State in its governance and organization.

Reading various articles in magazines and newspapers, I notice that the benefits that can come from modern technology are identified, but the destructive consequences are also emphasized. Of course, many emphasize that this debate that takes place nowadays about Artificial Intelligence is the same one that happened every time every new scientific achievement appeared and, of course, then various rules were set and people balanced its use, implementing the new discoveries without submitting to them.

A book written by Archimandrite Aristarchos Grekas, Professor of a School of Theology, is interesting with the title Artificial Intelligence and Man and subtitled "An Orthodox Theological Approach", which was published by Apostoliki Diakonia of the Church of Greece.

This book is divided into two parts. In the first part, the term "Artificial Intelligence" is analyzed, its use and applications, "Anthropocentric Artificial Intelligence" is discussed with the extensions to its anthropocentric ethics, as well as the trend of the so-called "Apocalyptic" Artificial Intelligence is investigated, but also the tendencies to reduce Artificial Intelligence to Religion or the Church with devotional uses.

What is especially interesting in this book is what is said by those who are interested in Artificial Intelligence, about its "theological approaches" with the emergence of "a new form of collective consciousness" that "will replace religion;" about the "approaches of concepts of salvation and immortality with the use of AI", which would "be able to 'solve' the question of the 'soul';" "to draw the world population into a secular superhumanism," to the establishment of a "superhumanistic 'church'", to a "new super-religion" to the "uses of AI applications in worship" etc.

The second part presents the theological teaching of the Church about man as a psychosomatic unity, about the work of the Orthodox Church, about its liturgical and sacramental structure, with the aim, of course, to emphasize that in the Church and theology there are found the safe anthropological and theological criteria for the correct use of modern technology.

This is a book that is written with scientific and theological knowledge, with calmness and sobriety, and that is why I consider it to be one of a kind.

The purpose of this article is not so much to present what the so-called Artificial Intelligence is and what are its consequences, but to express my objections to the term "Artificial Intelligence".

In the Dictionary of the Greek Language by Georgios Babiniotis, "Artificial Intelligence" is defined as "a branch of computer science aimed at the construction of robots or computers that can imitate human intelligence."

In the book I mentioned above, it is noted that the Greek term "Τεχνητή Νοημοσύνη" renders the English term as "Artificial Intelligence", which is also translated as "Artificial Brilliance". After all, there are scientists who give different definitions, such as "autonomous intelligence systems," "technology of artificial intelligence systems," "imitation of smart human behavior".

This is natural, because as the author of this book writes, using the relevant bibliography, "artificial intelligence systems are software (and possibly hardware) systems designed;" "the artificial intelligence technological community tries to imitate intelligent behavior with programs of computers;" "it refers imitatively and reproductively to human mental functioning and more specifically to intelligence;" most of these systems "can be classified into the following four categories: systems that think like humans, systems that act like humans, systems that think rationally, systems that function rationally." Neural Network technology "mimics the groups of neurons in the human brain to perform fast and flexible data and information processing," "to develop the ability to communicate with natural language, with voice recognition...."

It becomes clear that these systems have a relationship with the capabilities of the human brain, with the neurons and the communication between them that characterize the mental functions of the human being.

The definition of Artificial Intelligence from Wikipedia is typical. "The term artificial intelligence refers to the field of information technology, which deals with the design and implementation of computer systems that imitate elements of human behavior, which imply even rudimentary intelligence: learning, adaptability, drawing conclusions, understanding from context, solving problems etc."

As noted "artificial intelligence is a point of intersection between multiple sciences, such as informatics, psychology, philosophy, neurology, linguistics and mechanical science, with the aim of synthesizing intelligent behavior, with elements of reasoning, learning and adaptation to the environment, while it is usually applied to specially made machines or computers."

Artificial Intelligence is "divided into conventional artificial intelligence, which attempts to emulate human intelligence algorithmically using symbols and high-level logical rules, and subsymbolic artificial intelligence, which attempts to reproduce human intelligence using rudimentary numerical models that synthesize inductively smart people behaviors with the sequential self-organization of simpler structural components ("behavioral artificial intelligence"), simulating real biological processes, such as the evolution of species and the functioning of the brain ("computational intelligence") or are the application of statistical methodologies to artificial intelligence problems."

It is clear from this definition that Artificial Intelligence is connected to human brilliance, the functioning of the human brain with neurons and neurotransmitters.

However, according to our timeless tradition, the nous, the noetic energy is different from rational energy, from intelligence, the human intellect, since noetic energy is one thing and the rational energy of man is another. The nous, according to Saint John of Damascus, is the eye of the soul, and according to Saint Gregory of Palamas, it is the most subtle attention. So, according to the entire patristic tradition, there is a double methodology, that is, one is the methodology of observation and thinking that is done with the intellect-brain, and another is the methodology that is connected to the knowledge of God, which is done with the nous. The identification of the two methodologies produced the scholastic theology that created many problems in the Western world.

This is the reason why, apart from our reservations about the consequences of the so-called "Artificial Intelligence", I think that the term "Artificial Brilliance" should prevail instead of "Artificial Intelligence". Thus, we will avoid the deification of these systems.

Entering ChatGPT I found that the English term Artificial Intelligence is rendered in the Greek language as both "Artificial Intelligence" and "Artificial Brilliance".

Specifically, about the term "Artificial Intelligence" it writes: "Usually, the term 'artificial intelligence' (AI) refers to computer systems that are designed to perform tasks that require human intelligence. This can include logical thinking, machine learning, pattern recognition, natural language processing, and other intelligence-related activities."

About the term "Artificial Brilliance" it writes: "On the other hand, the term 'Artificial General Intelligence' (AGI) refers to a more advanced form of artificial intelligence that will be able to perform any task that a human can perform. The term 'artificial brilliance' usually refers to a system that has the ability to demonstrate general intelligence, to understand, learn and perform tasks in various domains in a similar way to humans."

It further says: "It is important to note that these terms are used in different ways by different sources, and their exact meaning may vary."

Comparing the two terms, something is written that is very important that interests us in this article: "The terms 'artificial intelligence' and 'artificial brilliance' are often used interchangeably, but they can have some differences in their meaning, depending on the environment and culture that they are used."

Therefore, I think that instead of the term "Artificial Intelligence" the term "Artificial Brilliance" should be used, in order to respect our culture and all our tradition that separates the nous from the intellect/brilliance and not to identify the human with the intellect/brain. Thus we will not renounce the theology of the Church regarding the distinction between noetic and rational energy, we will not question the teaching of the Church regarding the darkening of the nous which is the result of the fall and the illumination of the nous which is a sign of the return to God.

When we talk about "Artificial Brilliance", then the feeling of self-deification, which is the ultimate downfall of man, will be avoided in many people.

: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.