Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Google and A.I. (Artificial Intelligence)

I came across an interesting article in my Google news feed (see link above) that deals with the subject of artificial intelligence and technology. This subject has been in the news a lot recently and unless you pay no attention to technology news, you've probably read something about it or seen a movie or TV show about it.

Recently Emily and I watched 2 TV programs that deal with robotics and how society is changed or impacted by robots that are run with A.I. One called "HUMANS" deals with a group of robots who have been given sentience by their designer and how the authorities want to deal with them (basically control them and figure out how not to let this happen again). The other show EXTANT  has a "boy" (a humaniform robot) who is adopted (literally) by the robot's designer and his wife. Things get out of control when they discover a government conspiracy involving the discovery of an alien life form seeking to contact, maybe invade earth. So the robot with AI is more tangential to the story. In both stories, we are confronted with questions of how we can deal with A.I. as it becomes more and more a part of our lives.

In the case of the news article above, we are confronted with the question of what do we do when our technology makes a bad decision if something goes wrong? If we entrust our lives to these A.I. cars, will we be safe? How can we trust it? Right now A.I. is only on the level of machines (robots are not widespread), but eventually we will see robots more and more. The more interesting question is robots with A.I. How do we interact with them? What happens if something goes wrong and a human life is at stake?

Isaac Asimov in his robot series of books was ahead of his time in dealing with these questions. The books are worth reading. As always, technology impacts society. Conversely, society will shape technology and invent new technology. We need to make good decisions about how far we will adopt A.I. technology. It won't be easy. We will make mistakes along the way (hopefully not fatal ones).

In EXTANT at a presentation that the robot boy's father was giving, an audience member was asking what happens if something goes wrong, will there be a way to "kill" the robot? The dad was offended because he saw the robot as if he were a real human being. He asked, do you have a child. "Yes" was the reply. He asked, "Do you have plans to murder your child if they do something wrong". A kill switch in a car makes sense. We want to be ultimately in control of a car. As A.I. expands though, I don't think the question will be so clear cut.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Book Review of "What's Wrong With the World" By G.K. Chesterton

"What's Wrong With the World" is a book that is essentially a collection of essays by G.K. Chesterton originally published in 1910. I think I originally got interested in reading Chesterton after listening to some lectures delivered by Ravi Zacharias. Zacharias quotes from Chesterton fairly regularly in his presentations. Here's a little bit about Chesterton from Wikipedia:

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936), better known as G. K. Chesterton, was an English writer, poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, lay theologian, biographer, and literary and art critic. Chesterton is often referred to as the "prince of paradox." Time magazine has observed of his writing style: "Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out."

This particular book is a kind of social commentary on various
political, social and religious issues facing Britain in the early 20th century. I did attempt to read this book at an earlier time and just laid it aside. I just could not get into it. I'm not sure if it was because of the writing style, or perhaps differences between British and American ways of saying things. He refers to events and laws that are peculiar to British culture, so that does present some difficulty. In any case, if you can kind of overlook these shortcomings, I believe you will benefit from reading this book.

Chesterton does have a way of making complex issues clear; or maybe it's just that he has a way of making them unclear. Chesterton often uses paradoxes as a literary device. It becomes at times wearisome and distracting and can have the result of making his argument unclear. Sometimes the paradoxes he writes seem unsupported or even wrong. At other times, it makes the issue crystal clear and insightful. These literary devices are helpful at times in essays, but would not be helpful in a debate format.

The issues he tackles range from the role of women in society to the role of politics in dealing with poverty. It struck me as a collection of editorials he wrote for the newspaper, perhaps for a weekly column. Many of these issues are timeless and we still deal with the same things today. I found his approach to be conservative politically. He points out the flaws in the contrary position and supports his views with logic, wit, sarcasm and sometimes biblical examples.

Overall I enjoyed the read, and I think you will too. At about 200 pages it can be finished in 1 or 2 afternoons of reading.

Rating (out of 5 stars) ★★★★☆

Blogging Sabbatical

I just wanted to let my readers know (if you are still out there) that I have been taking a sabbatical from posting blogs. I kept things fairly regular: mostly posting book reviews and other topics as they interested me. I think I have had enough of a break now from it that I am ready to begin posting regularly now. I still plan on writing book reviews, but maybe now I will focus a little more on other topics. Please let me know if there are any topics you would like me to address!

Thanks to all my readers over the years. I hope that what I post in years to come is edifying and helps someone out there grow closer to God.

Adam Smith

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Planned Parenthood 7th Undercover Video

Warning: This 7th undercover video is graphic in nature.

There's not really much to say about this 7th video exposing the barbaric practices of Planned Parenthood. I felt physically ill after watching it, but I wanted to see the truth. I hope you will too.

I really hope that we can defund this organization as a nation. This video shows us the horror of abortion. It ends the life of a human being created in God's image.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Book Review of "The Church in Exile" by Lee Beach

I just finished "The Church in Exile" by Lee Beach. I thought the thesis was good. The basic idea is that The church in the west has been pushed to the margins and Christians in the west need to come to terms with the fact that the church now is in a state of exile (figuratively speaking). The culture at large has rejected Christianity in favor of a more secular society. So now we function as "outsiders" who no longer influence the culture as we once did. As exiles we are nevertheless called to live counterculturally and maintain our identity and our sense of community, while at the same time finding creative ways to be salt and light in our culture.  Seeing ourselves in exile together can cause us to rely on one another for support so we can faithfully live out our faith in Christ.

Overall I thought this book was really well written. I liked and agreed with his thesis. I did disagree at some points with some of his recommendations as far as church praxis, but on the whole I thought that Mr. Beach did a good job of conveying a vision for the church in our now post-Christian culture.

I found the exilic mindset to be very helpful to Christians who might feel marginalized by our culture. Mr. Beach has a pastoral concern for the modern western church and it shows in this book. I recommend it.