Artificial and Heavenly Intelligence
This last week Google released a new wave of products in an attempt to lead the world into what it believes will be the future of technology. Here is a summary of was #madebyGoogle
Google Pixel – A premium smartphone showcasing the best of Android and currently contains the best smartphone camera
Google Chromecast 4K – A dongle that fits in your T.V. allowing you to cast 4k content from Chrome to your TV
Google Home – An Amazon Echo competitor with the advantage of knowing more about you
Google Wifi – Similar to Eero, this is Google’s multi router solution that allows you to get the strongest wifi signal no matter where you are in your house
Daydream VR – A cheap headset to get your feet wet in the world of virtual reality (think putting a TV on your had and being allowed to interact in a fully immersive yet different environment, like swimming through an aquarium without getting eaten by a shark or something)
While these were the consumer products that made the headlines across various news and blog sites, the bigger story lies underneath the otherwise consistent design of these products. Enter Google Assistant.
What is Google Assistant? It is Google’s artificial intelligence behind these products that tries to get to know you so it can become smarter and more convenient for you. If you are in Google’s messaging app, Allo, you can ask the Assistant anything and it will intelligently try to provide you with a useful answer. Texting your friend a picture of an activity you have recently done? The Assistant can “see” your picture and offer smart replies without you having to do all of that manual work.
Want to play a song on your speaker? Ask the Assistant to play the song and it will find it and play it for you, even if it is not in your Spotify library. If you can’t remember the name of the song but know the artist and what movie it was in the Assistant will figure that out for you and automatically start playing it. You can talk to one device and have it play a video on your TV. No matter where you are in your home Google’s Home (if you have multiple in your home) will determine which one it can understand the best and answer you through that device. All sorts of crazy, convenient features that Google designed to make your life easier and its DeepMind Artificial Intelligence (AI) smarter.
Some of you are wondering, what is AI and what does it have to do with a church blog? Good questions.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to the intelligence of machines and software. It is also a field of study that tries to make computers and software become more capable of intelligent behavior. Early examples include Google auto completing your search criteria before you even finish typing. If you have used a GPS and you get lost and it re-routes you with a shorter path or no tolls that is also a basic level of AI occurring. Some of the more popular interfaces (i.e. examples of AI today) are found in Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and more recently the Google Assistant. If you have heard of chatbots they are basically “robots” that can intelligently reply to you if you strike up a messaging conversation with them. You can even order Dominoes automatically or summon an Uber ride (think taxi) through these. You have heard and will soon see self-driving cars that try to intelligently contextualize your surroundings and prevent you from crashing.
Why are technology companies investing in AI? Because the more they can learn, and the smarter they can become, the more useful they will be to you. If they are more useful to you and you come to value the convenience, then these companies will hope that it will be a gateway into using its other products and thus gaining the loyalty of a consumer for potentially life. The message is that AI is here to help you. It is nothing to be scared about. The more it knows, the better it will be able to help you.
Here’s the catch. AI is not perfect, and still has a ways to go before reaching such a milestone. It gets better by the engineers that write its algorithms and the people that allow access to their habits and schedules. As time goes by we should expect to see even greater and more intelligent applications of such hardware/software.
There is another intelligence that is anything but artificial and far surpasses being classified as “intelligent.” You probably know where this is going. Yes, we are talking about a real Intelligence that knows you and is there to help.
Artificial Intelligence is designed to make your life more convenient. Heavenly Intelligence is there to save you from sin and death.
Artificial Intelligence tries to learn more about you so it can better help you. Heavenly Intelligence has been where you have been and can thus help you.
Artificial Intelligence becomes more useful to you the more you interact with its interfaces. Heavenly Intelligence becomes more useful to you the more you interact with Him.
Artificial Intelligence manifests itself through products you must buy. Heavenly Intelligence has already manifested itself, and the price has already been paid!
Artificial Intelligence may one day replace you. Heavenly Intelligence will never leave your or forsake you.
What are we trying to say here? People become excited by the potential for AI to make their lives easier. They are fascinated by how we as humans can program systems that can understand and contextualize its surroundings. But while AI is limited to the physical realm, Heavenly Intelligence (HI) spans all dimensions, and is active not just our dimension, but in the dimensions where war of the mind and the powers of darkness reside. It is here that HI can help you navigate through the stormy waters we call life.
Long ago when mankind fell to sin, God came to man’s rescue with a plan to save humans from the grips of satan. The Heavenly plan called for a sacrifice because the wages of sin is death, and the price needed to be paid as the law of God could not be changed or accommodated. With the sacrifice of Jesus, the link between God and man was restored through His death! But even more crazy is the fact that Jesus did not just die and go “chillax” in Heaven. He is actively working as your Advocate and High Priest, making intercession on your behalf every single day, as we can find in the Sanctuary. When Jesus left he promised His disciples (and us for that matter) that He would send the Holy Spirit to comfort, convict, and guide us (John 14). And the Holy Spirit is there to help you at a level deeper than AI.
God is actively working in our world today. He is actively working in your life today. He is not hiding behind some product that only appears when you recognize its existence. Even when you do not call on His name He gives you breath, safety, and many other things that we cannot see or know now.
But just like AI, you must give permission for HI to work in your life. God cannot and will not force Himself on you. He stands at the door and knocks, waiting to see if He can come in (Revelation 3:20).
So because we have a High Priest that can identify with our struggles, that intimately knows our weaknesses and has gone through the temptations we continually face, as a result let us boldly approach the throne of grace. It is there that we can find an abundance of grace and mercy to help us in our time of need.
AI promises to be useful. HI is useful. Will you grant permission for HI to come into your life and not just make it convenient, but save you and help you fend off against the devil’s attacks?