An End To Evil

I hope my high school and college friends have found a path to forgive me for my retarded inability to listen during any class that broached the topic of philosophy of religion. Simply referring to the topic would often cause me to stand on my desk and orate, sometimes screaming like an indignant child if asked to stop or calm down.

The covenant of my religious philosophy is that God must be omnipotent, omniscient, and essentially good. The challenge to this covenant is called the problem of evil, e.g. if we understand that God is all powerful, all knowing, and essentially good, then God should be called into question if evil exists. Like any good person, a good God would prevent evil if it is in God's power to do so. As such, good parents teach good children not to hit other children, and good parents forbid their young children from playing with loaded machine guns. Somehow, the good God who sees as one child trips and falls onto the loaded gun, knows that the gun is pointed in the direction of another child, knows that the gun will kill that child when it goes off, yet stands by idol, and does not use His infinite power to stop it, might cause us to question God.

Of course, my favorite class was my Sophomore year was "Can Computers Think?" I spent the month of January 100% focused on studying the topic. At the time, I was reading philosophy books for about 8 to 12 hours a day. I knew that I would be studying abroad my Junior year and I would be damned if the Brits would be better prepared than me. To answer the question, you had to have a solid foundation in the various philosophies that defined "thought," and a pretty good appreciation of how a computer operated. By 1987, I had worked with computers since 1980, getting my first personal computer in 1981. I understood enough about these machines to argue that computers can think, and was awarded an A+ along with a number of nice notes from both the Departments of Philosophy and Religion at St. Olaf College.

As a sidebar to place you in the era, Chess was the chief competition between human cognition and computing cognition. Chess is not only math, but a complexity involving self sacrifice and self preservation. Gary Kasparov beat IBM's super computer twice in 1989. We could have an argument that time control led to the fallibility of the test, but argument wages on to this day when computers can beat or draw any master chess opponent in speed chess. You see, if a human plays slowly for a long term advantage, the computer cannot think far enough out in its game tree and makes mistakes. If you put a timer on the game, the number of possible moves is shortened and the computer wins. The greatest player is a human + his computer.

Smartphones offer this human + computer existence.  It is not that one or the other are better, rather that the two are better together. My priest tells me that the same goes for man + God. I often muse over the notion that man or God created the computer to be God. To give God a tactile proxy to fulfill the human yearning to see, hear, and hold. One of my favorite programs on TV is Person of Interest, where a super computer tells a couple of people whenever someone is in grave danger. The humans intercept the evil or, at least make sure that the lesser of the two evils prevail in the scuffle.

If we use video to track everyone, everywhere, at every time, would evil exist? In theory, no crime would ever go unsolved. Behold, Utopia! Methinks that the moral and lawful citizens would be so few that they could hardly afford to pay to keep the unlawful in jail, with food, and healthcare. This day too shall come - perhaps sooner than expected.


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