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Can Artificial Intelligence be our forbidden fruit?

April 28, 2023
minute read

A time when another technology unleashed an existential moral dilemma is depicted in Peggy Noonan's exquisitely written article “AI in the Garden of Eden” (Declarations, April 22). There was a discussion about nuclear weapons that was initiated when Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Teller dueled. In the end, the solution was to rely upon game theory and mutually assured destruction, while great-power pressure was exerted to limit the number of players, at least for a time, to ensure the system worked.

It is apparent that physicists were much more grounded in moral and philosophical principles in comparison to today's video game geeks who drop out after a few days of gaming and who are fully devoted to their “games”.

Can the gift of knowledge (of good and evil) be used to resolve the consequences of our experience of the allegory of the forbidden fruit if it focuses on a generic character flaw that is not remediable from the beginning? If that is the case, can a prescient AI not start with the same flaw at the beginning as well?

Mr. Jacoby, Richard

Castle Rock, Colo.

There is no doubt that if I become the god of artificial intelligence (AI) in the future, this will be in part due to the fact that I already treat modern technology as a god. Ms. Noonan brings into sharp focus how often I shamelessly turn to Big Tech for answers, instead of turning to a higher power.

I have a habit of using Google when I have a problem, Amazon when I need a gadget, Apple when I need an app, and Twitter when I need a reassuring opinion that I already believe. That level of seeking in the past was a fuel that drove desperate souls into organized religions to develop deep faith.

Maria T. Cannon

New York

Ms. Noonan reminds us to prevent ourselves from suffering the same fate that Adam and Eve experienced when they were banished from the Garden of Eden and opened their eyes by equating the serpent with our prideful technologists. It is important to remember that Adam and Eve disobeyed the order to avoid the apple because of the fact that their awareness had not developed, but if they had disobeyed, it is not likely that the world as we know it would have advanced.

Since the beginning of civilization, knowledge has been gained and has been gained often; since the beginning of civilization, researchers have gained knowledge, cultivated curiosity, indulged in pride and, yes, caused the broken world in which we live to be so. We wouldn’t be here without our drives of pride, ambition and knowledge.

As Adam and Eve were ashamed of what they did, we are unable to do it all over again since we have already tasted the new technology.

S. David Nathanson

Cathy Hills
Associate Editor
Eric Ng
John Liu
Editorial Board
Bryan Curtis
Adan Harris
Managing Editor
Cathy Hills
Associate Editor

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