Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 4:47 pm | Fair 77º


Jim Langley: Human Obsolescence, and Facing Artificial Intelligence Head On

Over the past 30-plus years, my younger brother, Dr. Pat Langley, has collaborated in publishing more than 300 articles and papers, and has also authored and co-authored eight books on the topic of Artificial Intelligence.

He chose the career path in the early days of the discipline, going back to his studies at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he received his Ph.D. in cognitive psychology in 1979. That’s when he started his work in the brand new discipline as a research associate.

Certainly his expertise in this area does not qualify me to write on the subject in any depth, but I do have some thoughts I’ve been wanting to convey for quite some time.

Recently, I came across a short article in The Economist, which has been in publication since 1843. I found the article, “Human Obsolescence — How quickly will machines sweep man aside?” quite intriguing.

The writer’s research was limited to simply polling hundreds of attendees at two AI conferences. Of course the opinions and hopes of the attendees are obviously biased.

In summary, the study indicates that machine learning is making positive strides, but humans will not be obsolete for quite some time. The most optimistic attendees feel that could happen by mid-21st century, while the most pessimistic believe we’re possibly 200 years or more away from that event.

Now it’s time to get to the heart of the matter.

Just as we experienced the Industrial Revolution, we will one day experience the Artificial Intelligence Revolution. Machines will continue to do more and more tasks presently performed by humans, but there will still need to be a human element involved in many tasks.

What we’re really dealing with is storing and disseminating knowledge at an extremely fast pace in an efficient manner. Man has his and her limitations in processing data in making decisions, but we also need to include the heart in those decisions. That’s why I feel man will always need to be an integral part of the solution in all critical disciplines.

The field of medicine is now utilizing data through the power of machine learning, along with the greatness of the human mind to make huge strides in how critical diagnoses are made regarding medical treatment. Doctors make mistakes and machines make mistakes, but when the two work together, there’s an opportunity for fewer errors.

Perhaps we can even apply the biblical principle from Ecclesiastes 4:9 in which we’re instructed, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.”

Together, we can experience what’s known in business as synergy when two agents can produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. Cooperative interaction and combined effort can often improve results.

All this appears to be good, but I believe there’s an underlying agenda in all this energy to harness knowledge and learning. Since the beginning of time, man has wanted to be like God. In fact, many desire to be gods.

Well, I can’t change what appears to be natural in man and woman, but I can point out a flaw when I see one. In Isaiah 29:16, the prophet instructs Israel, “You turn things upside down, as if the potter were to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘He did not make me’? Can the pot say to the potter. ‘He knows nothing’?”

I’m sure we’ll continue to make great strides in blending machine function with human function for the good of mankind. I just hope we don’t lose sight of Who is really in control and think we are more than we are.

In 1 Corinthians 1:25, Paul tells us “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” If anyone loses track of this critical precept, perhaps they have already taken a step toward their own obsolescence.

In Proverbs 3:5-6, we are instructed “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

We’d all be wise to heed these salient words penned by King Solomon 3,000 years ago. God can certainly take care of Himself, but don’t let yourself become obsolete!

Passages to Ponder

» Job 21:22

» Ecclesiastes 8:7-8

» 1 Corinthians 13:1-2

» Philippians 1:9-11

» 1 Timothy 6:20-21

» 2 Peter 1:3-4

— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties

Photo of Cimme Eordanidis
Cimme Eordanidis
"Since I truly enjoy doing what I do, interacting with people and representing them during one of life's most exciting events is very rewarding."

Full Profile >