Contemplative Life

(Artificial) Intelligence and Wisdom

I find artificial intelligence, “AI”, interesting and intriguing.  I am reading articles about the possibilities and potential of AI, listening to what is said, and watching movies.

I recently rewatched Free Guy starring Ryan Reynolds.  In the movie, “Guy” is a non-player character (NPC) in a video game having embedded AI software in the game.  In this thoroughly entertaining action comedy, Guy becomes aware and begins “living” in the game.  Guy interacts with the other NPC’s and even the game’s human creator (who enters the game as a player).  Guy through experience and inquisitiveness gains knowledge and grows in intelligence, even in emotional intelligence.  I am leaving out much of the story details so you will want to watch.  And (this not a spoiler) from his growth we see Guy even gaining insight and wisdom.  Cue Guy’s last dialogue with the creator.

What rewatching Free Guy left me with, besides a smile, was wondering about the difference between intelligence and wisdom.  I wondered if artificial intelligence, AI, could or would ever be wise.  Having the “right” answer or the “right” next step often is wise or may seem to be.  A Google search for the definition of “wisdom” returned these definitions, ”the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment” and “the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.” Intelligence, again according to Google, may be defined as “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.” Knowledge, from my third Google search, may be defined as “facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject” or “awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.”

There is certainly overlap, or perhaps juxtaposition, in “wisdom”, “intelligence”, and “knowledge”, at least in Google search results.  I am going to disappoint you if the expected next comment is something along the lines of the problems or dangers of AI.  That is not the goal or purpose here.  We do need to think deeply about AI, its use, its implications, and its reach – and that thinking is best done together from different viewpoints.

Right now, though, I am thinking about wisdom.  What is it, really? How do we gain wisdom beyond intelligence, beyond knowledge?  In the Google definitions of wisdom, two words did not show up or overlap with the definitions of intelligence or knowledge.  Wisdom carries the idea or property of “quality” and “soundness.”  There is something more to wisdom that knowledge or intelligence, even AI, cannot attain by themselves.  

I could refer you back to Free Guy and Guy’s interaction and experiences, particularly those with the videogame’s creator, but better, much better, is Scripture and the real world.  God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.  Jeremiah 10:12.  Spend some time in Psalms 19 and 111 or in Proverbs 4-5 and 8 to hear again wisdom’s calling and invitation.  And don’t forget or miss this, our Creator – in reality – entered our world and wants to enter each of our lives.  John 1:1-5, 12.  For the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17.

Drawing then on Paul (instead of Guy), be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that we may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that all may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Colossians 2: 2,3.

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