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Cultural Commentary

Is artificial intelligence 'more dangerous than nukes'?

Bridget Moynahan, in a scene from the Twentieth Century Fox movie I, Robot, where her character robopsychologist Susan Calvin is taken hostage by the robot named Sonny (Credit: Twentieth Century Fox) The latest Harvard Business Review's cover story claims that "smart, connected products will transform your business."  The article tells us that Ralph Lauren's Polo Tech Shirt, available next year, will send distance covered, calories burned, movement intensity, heart rate, and similar data to the wearer's mobile device.  Babolat's latest tennis racket is the Play Pure Drive, with sensors and connectivity in the racket handle to track ball speed, spin and impact location through a smartphone app.  And a Tesla vehicle needing repairs can autonomously call for a corrective software download or send notification to the customer with an invitation for a valet to pick up the car and deliver it for service.

But all is not well in the technology world.  Elon Musk is the chief executive of Tesla and also founder of SpaceX, a revolutionary space transport services company.  Speaking recently at MIT, he was asked about artificial intelligence (AI), the growing capacity of robots to think like humans.  His response: we need to "make sure we don't do something very foolish."  He later tweeted that AI is "potentially more dangerous than nukes."

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I witnessed God's amazing work in NYC

New York City daytime landscape with its nearly completed One World Trade Center skyscraper, November 10, 2013 (Credit: Roman Iakoubtchik via Flickr)A driver in Colorado dropped a lit cigarette down his jacket, and jumped out of the vehicle to remove it.  However, his van kept rolling backwards, knocking him to the ground and rolling over his head.  He is expected to survive.  Meanwhile, a woman wanted for robbery called an Ohio police station to demand that they remove an unflattering mug shot of her from their website.  The officer suggested she come in so they could discuss the situation.  When she came into the station, he arrested her.

I decided to begin today's Cultural Commentary with some lighter news items, since today's headlines are uniformly discouraging.  Another victim of Friday's shooting rampage in Washington State has died.  The gunman responsible for the Ottowa terrorist attack had ties to other jihadists in Canada.  A suicide attack has killed 11 south of Baghdad.  And residents in Hawaii are preparing to evacuate because of lava steadily advancing toward them.  Does their situation feel like a metaphor for our times?

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Firefighters rescue woman stuck in chimney

California Firefighters recently rescued a California woman who was stuck in a chimney. How did she get there? Allegedly she was trying to break into the home of a man she met online. After neighbors heard a woman crying they called firefighters, who had to dismantle eight feet of the chimney and then lubricate the flue with dish soap to rescue her.

I'm not sure if there's a home security system that protects against chimney intruders. Or how small an intruder would have to be to get through one. Some problems are too unlikely to be worth our concern. And others are so large there doesn't seem to be much point in worrying about them.

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Julia Roberts gives George Clooney marriage advice

George Clooney and Julia Roberts pose for photos after Clooney won the prestigious Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film at the BAFTA Los Angeles Jaguar Britannia Awards, which was presented to him by his good friend Julia Roberts at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California November 9, 2013 (Credit: BAFTA/Christopher Polk) Julia Roberts and George Clooney have been good friends since they filmed Ocean's Eleven 13 years ago. When asked what advice she would give Clooney now that he is married, the married mother of three replied: "Well, the only advice for that is finding your person—and he's found his person."

Roberts may be giving Clooney advice, but most Americans aren't praying for him to take it. A recent study shows that 82 percent of Americans who pray do so for family or friends; 74 percent pray about their own problems; 13 percent pray for sports teams. Only five percent of us pray for celebrities. While Scripture tells us to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2), only 12 percent of us pray for government leaders.

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Pastors face jail time, fines for refusing gay weddings

Idaho ministers Donald and Evelyn Knapp, who say they have been threatened with jail time for refusing to conduct same-sex marriages, pose for a photo before their chapel, the Hitching Post Lakeside Chapel (Credit: Alliance Defending Freedom) Now that same-sex marriage is legal in more states than ever, will pastors be forced to perform gay weddings? Supporters of "marriage equality" have assured us that will not happen. But now it has.

Donald and Evelyn Knapp are ordained Christian pastors who operate a wedding chapel in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. City officials say their non-discrimination ordinance requires the Knapps to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies. If they decline, they face up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines for each day they refuse. In other words, if they refuse a same-sex wedding ceremony for a week, they could go to jail for over three years and face $7,000 in fines.

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