Computer yes & no

We are, some of us (including all the Catholics I know, the Orthodox, the Jews, and most of the Protestants), still enthusiasts for “art.” That is, we favour creative human forms over inhuman or non-human forms; and form over chaos, life over death. You might say that at the back of every humanized mind (as opposed to de-humanized) there is a Luddite, waiting to get out, and rehearsing his moves against that Machine, which is currently called Artificial Intelligence. We are backward (I hope this does not sound too proud); we continue to backwardly prefer Nature, to the Illusion projected by every progressive, revolutionary activity. For none of these movements are centred on the human; none are “inclusive” — of us.

That, to my mind (when I was a comparative religionist, many many seasons ago), was the intellectual significance of Jesus Christ, as compared with, say, the Western (not the Eastern) notion of the Buddha, or Karl Marx. The future revealed to us by Christ was unquestionably a human world. We would strive, in our incremental human way, through life and into death. This world in which we have found ourselves should be made, in our characteristically incremental way, more and more human.

Artificial Intelligence, as an ambition or ideology, presents the most striking alternative. For it will homogenize everything, and make it a great bore. (We will be “bored to extinction,” as a French girlfriend used to say.) Previously, we had to depend on low-tech Marxism to do that for us — to drain all interest from our future; to make us not necessarily eager to die (for human instincts still impede us), but indifferent in the matter. To make us perfectly objective and unbiased, with regard to ourselves.

Is the earth good for humans? This is a Christian rhetorical question, with echoes in each of the other “world religions.” It assumes the answer is, Yes.

It has been replaced by a question of the environmentalists, that is also asked by the digital technicians, in their sleep:

Are humans good for the earth?

And this is equally rhetorical. To reply is to assume that the answer is, No.