Hidden in Plain Sight

God Has Made His Ways Known in the World

As 2022 turned into 2023, tech news was abuzz with talk of OpenAI’s new chatbot, ChatGPT. A chatbot is language-processing software that generates text in response to user prompts. Developers “train” a chatbot by feeding it natural language data pertaining to the tasks they want it to perform and then refining its code so that it delivers the intended output to anticipated prompts. Training may continue after the bot has been put into service. Telephone answering systems that processed requests based on verbal answers to its questions were rudimentary versions of computerized language processing.

ChatGPT takes the technology to a new level. Jordan Peterson asked it to write an essay on the intersection of Taoist ethics and Jesus’ ethics from the Sermon on the Mount. In Peterson’s words, ChatGPT got it “dead right—brilliant.” Does that mean ChatGPT is an expert in ethics? Not on your life.

ChatGPT has, however, set off plenty of ethics-based discussions about how it might be used, as well as how a reader might discern bot-generated text from words written by a real human. It’s no simple task, because an AI chatbot has been precision-tuned to mimic human language. With current technology, a chatbot connected to the internet can search massive stores of data and return a result provoking a “Wow!” response in seconds. It can seem like the machine has come to life, but that’s an illusion. MIT Technology Review’s Melissa Heikkilä writes:

The magic—and danger—of these large language models lies in the illusion of correctness. The sentences they produce look right—they use the right kinds of words in the correct order. But the AI doesn’t know what any of it means. These models work by predicting the most likely next word in a sentence. They haven’t a clue whether something is correct or false, and they confidently present information as true even when it is not.

A chatbot is sophisticated software running on hardware; its output will always be determined by a combination of inputted data and the decisions built into its code—all of which originated with human minds. It seems intelligent because developers have programmed intelligence into it.

Accurate Inferences to Design . . . or Not

If you’ve read Salvo for any length of time, you know we regularly feature articles friendly to intelligent design-based science (ID). Like the forensic sciences, ID presupposes that certain marks of intelligence are discernible and that where they are observed, it is reasonable to infer an intelligent source behind the effect being observed.

But things get interesting when different people see the same markers of intelligence but trace them to different sources. See, for example, “The Unidentified Intelligence Paradox,” about new ventures in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and “Ingenius Ants,” which details remarkably complex behaviors in the lowly leafcutter ant. Our world clearly bears the marks of intelligence, but ironically, many who reject belief in the Creator end up mystifying something in creation. Like a chatbot.

Identifying things accurately matters. Salvo intends to show how the biblical worldview gives us the true foundational principles by which our world operates. We either defy them to our own peril or submit to them and enjoy their blessings. This applies to all aspects of life, from birth (“Cold Storage,") through family life (“Weird Gestations,”) to death (“Reckoning with the Grave”).

There’s a lot more in the following pages related to the big issues of life, and all of it was written by real live humans. We hope it helps you see how those principles are not just plausible but demonstrably true—so true, in fact, that you can bet your life on them.

 is Deputy Editor of Salvo and writes on apologetics and matters of faith.

This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #64, Spring 2023 Copyright © 2024 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/article/salvo64/hidden-in-plain-sight


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