AI & Sentient Machines / Dealing with Demons

Hosted byGeorge Noory

AI & Sentient Machines / Dealing with Demons

About the show

Author James Barrat has researched AI and intelligent machines and how the future holds both optimistic and concerning possibilities. Two weeks ago, there was some fascinating and frightening news from the world of AI-- a Google engineer, Blake Lemoine, claimed that an AI he was conversing with (called LaMDA, pronounced L-A-M-D-A) is sentient and has a soul and, as such should be considered a person. Lemoine, who has a background as a mystical Christian priest, may have been misled by the sophistication of the AI's programming, Barrat suggested. LaMDA is like a digital assistant (such as Alexa) on steroids-- it has a very eloquent way of speaking but is only capable of responding to questions rather than initiating contact, which indicates it's not sentient, Barrat explained. Lemoine, currently on leave from his engineering job at Google, further outlines his viewpoint in this WIRED interview.

AI is fueled by giant data, allowing it to make decisions or insights based on the massive amounts of information it accesses. As AI and super-intelligent machines advance, they may help us avoid wars, but they might create weapons that we don't even understand, Barrat cautioned. AI and neural networks are enabling businesses to run more efficiently, but they may take away more jobs over time, he continued. The AI revolution is taking place in our homes too, he added, as "everything electric is becoming cognitized." Smart grids and smart cities are expanding, and the amount invested in AI is doubling every year, he detailed. It will be interesting to see how humanity reacts in the future, as we've never co-existed with something smarter than us, he observed.

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Guest in the latter half, paranormal investigator Keith Johnson is regularly called upon to assist individuals in dealing with alleged paranormal phenomena or potential inhuman infestation in their homes. His interest in the paranormal started as a teenager when unexplained and tormenting activity took place in his family home. This included pounding on the wall, and a female apparition in the cellar (even though the house was new at the time). Johnson began working with famed demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren in 1973, he said, and they sometimes collaborated on investigations as they lived in neighboring states. He spoke about EVP recordings he and his brother made-- one of the voices sounded just like their deceased Aunt Ethel, yet he concluded it was a deceptive spirit pretending to be her.

Such inhuman spirits may do a variety of things to gain sympathy, Johnson revealed. But once they get a foothold and people start communicating with them, they start showing a more hostile nature and can be more difficult to extricate, he continued. Johnson worked on a demonic possession case in Providence, RI, in the 1980s, in which a 14-year-old boy exhibited bizarre behavior, including "spiraling like a top." The boy would then fall asleep and have no memory of what occurred. Johnson also described his house cleansing technique working from the lower floors to the top-- he and his team pray continually, and "we ask God to remove the spirits because we don't believe we have the power to do that" ourselves.

News segment guests: Christian Wilde, Jeff Nelken

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