I’ve got a soft spot for the Stanley Kubric movie that Steven Spielberg finished after Kubric’s death – AI. Some people hate on this movie – mainly because of the jarring emotional meltdown that occurs in the final act of the piece. May I point you to the final sentence of the original short story that inspired Kubric? The hints are there in the text, my friends.
Now…odd as it may seem – we are closer to an artificial life form than you may realize. Zoom back in your time machine to 2010. Back then, the first replicating cells containing artificial, human designed DNA, were created in the lab. Small…fragile…but by any definition, surely that qualifies as Artificial Life? (tho not Artificial Intelligence!)
The J Craig Venter Institute programmed their own DNA chromosome by cutting and pasting existing DNA instructions together – and inserting some code of their own into the artificial chromosome. Including (oddly enough) an email address and some stirring quotes! As you watch the press conference below, they use words like “software”, “booting up the cell”, “debugging”. Clearly the human race has already entered the new world of biological software, of creating life for a purpose. We’ve actually been there for 4 years already.
In 2010 they had to inject the DNA into a natural bacteria cell to reprogram it. But in 2014, they are synthesizing the cell wall itself using fatty acids and many other chemical techniques. Does this life form do anything useful yet? Don’t count on it – but there are hopes that this research may lead to vaccines and new sources of fuel for our oil strapped planet.
We have some smart research scientists who are taking the “Lego Bricks” of life and building something new.
But here is something that they are NOT doing.
Despite what the media reports claim – they are not finally discovering how the first biological cell evolved billions of years ago from the primordial slime.
There is a lot of confused thinking around this point. We fixate on needing life to have a completely natural, non-supernatural cause; of deciding ahead of time that no Designer was responsible for life on our planet. And yet the very work our research scientists are doing proves the opposite. We are trainee Life Designers with “L plates” and “training wheels”. And we are following the work of the Teacher and the Master.
- Scientists engineer a controlled Lab environment for the life experiments – this is done by design.
- Scientists engineer using a vast chemical storehouse built for them and use complex stuff like fatty acids that come pre-prepared – this is done by design.
- Scientists read and understand the pre-existing DNA instructions. And are now coding their own instructions themselves – this is done by (biological software) design.
In other words – no one is demonstrating the ability of Biological Evolution to create complex life. Rather – everyone is demonstrating the necessity of a Designer to get the conditions and the components of life aligned in the right way.
By research – humanity is actively affirming the truth that life came from a Designer – while confidently passing on the tale that life arose from the chemically random, naturally selected past.
Surely a mistaken contradiction that we need to wake up to?
But more than that – we need to wake up to the God who made us – and loves us. He’s not annoyed that we are learning about what he has made. I am sure He loves it when we ethically explore what He made with the minds that He’s given us.
Who knows when the first, true AI will occur? I certainly don’t. But what I do know is that our Artificial creation – will be based on His creations. It doesn’t make him any less God that we can pick up little scraps of ideas from all that He has made.
But…doesn’t the fact that He made it all first…not just fill you with the slightest little twinge of awe?
For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
Psalm 95:3-7, NIV