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Reform Magazine | August 21, 2018

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My neighbour, the Robot

My neighbour, the Robot

We are creating a new species, says Nigel Cameron, and Christians need to think seriously about what this will mean

The world will soon be teeming with new creatures. It promises to be wonderful, and to be terrible, but above all to be confusing. Because these lifeforms will be made by us.

They won’t be people. They won’t be animals. But also they won’t be ‘things’ in the sense in which we have understood ‘things’ in the past. We don’t yet know much about them and how they will develop. But we can be sure of some facts: they are smart – and will keep on getting smarter. They will take on more and more of the tasks that used to be our responsibility. And they will become more like us all the time.

Christians believe that God made the universe, and God made us. We believe he gave us ‘dominion’ over the rest of his creation. He put us in charge – to use our minds and our hands for him. He gave us responsibility for the birds and the beasts and the fish – but also for everything else on the earth. Our God-given intelligence has used the raw materials of which this earth is full to invent everything from the wheel and the plough to cars and aeroplanes.

It has been calculated that our modern computers are one trillion times as powerful as the most powerful computers in the world around the year 1960. And those miniature super-computers we call smartphones are themselves one million times more powerful than the massive mainframe machines available to Nasa when they put the first man on the moon in 1969. It’s hard to grasp what that means, but we need to try, because the process that has led to these enormous gains in our ability to make powerful computers hasn’t stopped…

Nigel Cameron is President Emeritus of the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies in Washington. His book, The Robots Are Coming: Us, them and God, was published by Care in October 2017

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This is an extract from an article that was published in the February 2018 edition of  Reform

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