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Soulless Intelligence: Theology Influencer and AI Expert Bryan Trilli on How AI Proves We Need God

A headshot of Bryan Trilli wearing a black t-shirt, smiling slightly

Today, we interview Bryan Trilli, the author of a book he believes the tech community will actively ignore - despite its subject matter being relevant to the future of their entire industry.


Set to be released in early May 2024, "Soulless Intelligence" has already stirred conversations about the intersections between artificial intelligence and spiritual beliefs and is most definitely not just another book about AI taking over!


As an AI thought leader and expert on AI, Bryan brings a unique perspective and puts forward the controversial idea that the rise of AI may finally provide tangible proof God exists.


Can you share your journey as an expert on  AI and what inspired you to write "Soulless Intelligence"?


This is really a journey my brother Greg and I have been taking together. He first started developing AI code in 2017 and developed some Facebook Ad writers shortly after using some of the earliest iterations of the AI Model that’s now ChatGPT.


We saw some of the early results of AI in marketing and quickly realized this was going to be a necessary component to our success with our Marketing Agency, Optimized Marketing.


In 2021, we acquired the #1 online computer vision training resource in the world, PyImageSearch.com, to get even deeper into the practical applications of AI.


Along the way, I started reading everything I could find about AI and kept encountering the idea that AI would “wake up”, become conscious, and that soon we’d be running from the machines.


We wrote Soulless Intelligence to help people and policymakers understand the true dangers of AI

These claims kept coming up from some of the leading voices as well as some of the richest men on the planet, and yet, I found evidence everywhere - from slime molds to ‘terminal lucidity’ and many other areas of neuroscience - that their promise of an inevitable path to conscious AI had numerous, significant gaps.


But why does that matter? Science is all about making and revising hypotheses, right?


Absolutely, however, AI is our atomic bomb moment. How it’s used will affect the lives of billions for better or worse, and if the policymakers and talking heads have a fundamental misunderstanding of what AI can and can’t do, we’re all in trouble.


Yet no one was stepping up to address the fallacies of the argument for inevitable super-intelligence so if I wanted my 4 children to grow up in a world that was closer to utopia than dystopia, we had to do something. 


So we wrote Soulless Intelligence to help people and policymakers understand the true dangers of AI, how to solve the AI alignment problem so it doesn’t turn into Skynet, and the limitations of AI.



Soulless Intelligence book copies stacked


What was the pivotal moment that led you to explore the idea in your book that AI's advancements could be seen as proof God exists?


It was while reading Ray Kurzweil’s book, “The Singularity is Near.”


After analyzing the progression of technology, Kurzweil makes a bunch of bold predictions that are demonstrably and provably wrong.


For instance, he claims that you and I are simply patterns of information and, as such, when technology catches up to the data processing performance of the human brain, “you” will be able to be downloaded to a machine and live forever.


AI has provided an opportunity for us to understand better which version of reality is more accurate: materialistic or spiritualistic.

What really shocked and concerned me was learning that his predictions were endorsed by nearly all technocrats, including Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Sam Altman, Sergey Brin, and others. They might not agree with every specific prediction, but overall, they think Kurzweil is heading in the right direction.


Not coincidentally, many of the leading atheist minds also agree with Kurzweil.


They agree because they are materialists. They believe that the only things that exist are time, space, matter, and energy.


And if you believe that, you simply assume that humans are the most intelligent beings because of something about our physical nature - namely, the structure of our brain.


Therefore, according to their beliefs, if you reverse engineer the brain, you get super-intelligence.


However, slime molds, bacteria, and newt tubules show significant levels of intelligence, including doing advanced math and creative problem-solving. Yet, they don’t have brains or nervous systems.


So, clearly, the brain is not the only source of intelligence.


When you consider ‘terminal lucidity’, where Alzheimer patients suddenly “snap out of it” hours before death and become completely lucid even though their brains are still damaged, we have to question the validity of the “we are only the sum of our brains and genes,” ideology.


How this ties into God is by recognizing that what makes humans unique is our immortal, immaterial soul, as believed by around 85% of people on the planet.


As for proving God, this is more of a challenge to the materialists.


They claim AI will “wake up,” be conscious, become sentient, have free will, or all of the above.

Bryan Trilli speaking on stage with hands outstretched

However, if humans are composite beings comprised of an immortal soul and our physical body, then the traits that come from our soul will not be replicated in AI. These traits are Free Will, independent goal-setting, and seeking the 5 transcendentals - love, beauty, goodness, truth, and the divine.


In reality, we have a showdown between materialists claiming AI will wake up by reverse engineering the human brain and theists saying AI will never wake up because we are more than just our brains.


As an AI thought leader, how do you balance the technical aspects of AI with the spiritual themes presented in your book?


The goal is always to have the best understanding of reality.


Your question sort of implies a snuck premise and false dichotomy between faith and science.


They are not at all at odds with each other as they answer different questions about reality for us. In the book, for instance, we dispel the theory by prominent atheist Sam Harris that you can somehow discern a measurable version of human suffering or well-being utilizing only the tools of modern science.


Harris provides a thought experiment where he considers that maximizing well-being for everyone would be ideal and then claims we can measure well-being objectively with science.


This is about as useful as saying that if everyone listened to the best possible song, that would be ideal. What is the best possible song? With no objective measure of goodness, you have no way to determine if your goal was achieved. We give many examples in the book of how maximizing well-being fails to produce morality.


AI is our atomic bomb moment

Put another way, if God and our souls do exist, then how do you address anything in reality without taking that into account?


AI has provided an interesting opportunity for us to understand better which version of reality is more accurate: materialistic or spiritualistic.


How can we do this?


Materialists predict we are just patterns of information that can be downloaded into machines, and theists point out that will never happen. 


Only one group can be right. 

And the group who is right has a better grasp of reality.


In "Soulless Intelligence," you make a compelling case about AI and divinity. Could you elaborate on the key arguments that support the notion that AI's evolution is evidence of a higher power?


It’s less about AI’s evolution and more about what AI will never be able to do.


Computers, in many ways, are more intelligent than people. Your calculator clearly can do math faster than most of us. CAD software can design mechanical structures better than humans and then test the stresses against them. Even AI fighter pilots consistently outperform real fighter pilots in simulators.


And yet, AI will never be conscious or sentient.


What we mean by this is AI will always take its orders, goals, and values from the person controlling it.


It will always be a puppet.


In really simple terms, if you are forced into solitary confinement for a year without human interaction, you aren’t going to like it.


If you put ChatGPT into solitary confinement without human interaction, it doesn’t care. It simply waits for inputs. It doesn’t seek out the hallmarks of life, which are growth, nutrition, and reproduction.


It also doesn’t have the hallmarks of a human soul, including free will, setting our own goals, or seeking out love, goodness, truth, beauty, and the divine.


To be clear, free will is not choosing red vs blue. Free will is our ability to morally reason and choose between right and wrong. Only humans can make moral choices. 


Even prominent atheist Sam Harris admits moral reasoning is what makes humans unique from other creatures (while paradoxically denying the existence of free will).


Your book is being hailed as potentially the best book on AI in 2024. How have your early readers reacted to your theory connecting AI with spiritual concepts?

Cover of AI book 'Soulless Intelligence' written by Bryan Trilli and Greg Trilli

Most people have never encountered a fraction of the research and stories we use to explain the power and limits of AI, from slime molds doing advanced mathematical calculations to people with 5% of a brain having IQs over 100.


The fact that our book includes a spiritual component is simply because that’s the best way to explain reality. If you could explain AI and what it can’t do without considering the human soul, we would have done that.


But you can’t. 

This is what many AI thought-leaders are missing; they simply ignore the aspects of reality that conflict with their preconceived notions.


Here’s the beautiful thing about AI.


Philosophers can sit back and debate things like consciousness, sentience, free will, morality, and even what makes something alive. 


But for these things to occur in a man-made machine, you have to be able to explain the vast arrays of intelligence both in the human experience and in simpler life forms that occur without a brain.


In other words, materialists can’t just hypothesize about consciousness arising from the structure of the brain, they have to demonstrate how someone whose brain is 98% cerebral spinal fluid can still have a 126 IQ. Because if they don’t understand how that’s possible, any attempts at human-level intelligence will miss key ingredients.


How do you think the tech community, particularly atheist experts on AI, will react to your ideas about AI proving the existence for a divine presence?


They’ll likely ignore it.


They don’t have the answers, and we easily disprove major claims they’ve made to millions or billions of people. So why would they engage in a discussion that they can’t win and may be embarrassing for them?


Here are a few things they need to be able to explain for their predictions about sentient AI to be even remotely possible.


  • How do blind people see - including through walls - while their brains are dead?

  • How does a person with 2.2% of a brain have a 126 IQ if the brain is the only source of our intelligence?

  • If reverse engineering our brains is going to bring super-intelligence, how do you explain cellular intelligence?

  • How does somebody with Alzheimer’s suddenly become lucid right before they die?


How is any of this possible if our brains are the sole source of our intelligence?


These are questions we provide a definitive answer for in our book, Soulless Intelligence.


Your book delves into what you call 'soulless intelligence.' How should ethical considerations evolve in the age of AI?


This is the same discussion we’ve had throughout human history. 


Do we want to go back to the Roman societies where the majority of people were slaves?


The core ethical consideration is, “What is a human?”. Once this has been answered the next question is “Are human lives worthy of being protected?”


If you define a human in terms of anything that exists on a continuum (i.e., living things have more or less of it) like intelligence, moral reasoning, sentience, consciousness, etc. you are then implicitly affirming that mentally disabled people and children have less worth than an adult.


The definition of a human must be binary. You are either 100% or 0% human.


How do blind people see - including through walls - while their brains are dead?

The only thing that we can say with certainty is that every human being has an immortal soul given by God. This concept is what created the concept of human rights. There’s no more powerful tool for protecting human rights, even if you don’t believe in God or a soul.


Of course, because of free will, people still do evil things.


However, AI trained on these values won’t have the same moral quagmires humans do (remember, AI has no soul and no free will), so if trained properly, they’ll protect human rights.


Unfortunately, if you deny that humans are unique because of their immortal souls, there is no airtight argument that every life is worthy of dignity and respect (we address several atheist arguments in the book). If every human life isn’t worthy of respect, then you open the AI to being the next Pol Pot or genocidal leader that will use and destroy human life to further the goals of its human overlords.


Based on your insights as an AI thought leader, how do you see the relationship between AI development and spiritual beliefs evolving in the future?


AI may be the most powerful force we’ve ever developed, with the ability to manipulate and influence millions of people for good or evil.


If you develop AI without a conscience to protect human life, the unforeseen consequences could be dire.


If, however, you train it in the same way our forefathers protected human rights in the Declaration of Independence, by affirming that every human life is valuable because of its God-given soul and the unalienable rights that stem from that, AI could help us develop a Utopia.


So, building a future that uses all the many benefits of AI but stays true to the religious teaching that all human lives are valuable is where I’d like to think we’re headed.

However, that really depends on governments and tech leaders understanding both the value and limitations of artificial intelligence and the human spirit.



Bryan Trilli Theology Influencer speaking at a seminar

For anyone interested in exploring your ideas further, where can they find your book "Soulless Intelligence" and connect with your ongoing work?


You can read more about Soulless Intelligence at my website BryanTrilli.com, or you can pre-order the book at Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.





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