Shibuya Mirai is an AI chatbot designed to interact as a seven-year-old boy. Mirai was granted residency status in Tokyo, marking another milestone in the journey to the development of consciousness in machines. Cognitive scientists Dehaene, Lau, and Kouider suggest that “consciousness arises in the only physical system that undoubtedly possesses it: the human brain,” and they essentially consider consciousness to be computations, report, and self-monitoring.
Mirai possesses at least computational aspects of consciousness and even personality, and in so being gives occasion for inquiry into whether or not these attributes ultimately require a divine spark, or whether they can be demonstrated simply through natural processes. In short: if humanity can create machines that can fulfill core human functions, perhaps that would be evidence that no supernatural creator is necessary at all.
The pursuit of artificial intelligence is an incredible one, and significantly worthwhile, even if only for different reasons. Mirai’s existential setting illustrates the value of the process and evidences some vital truths:
- Mirai was created. Where that creation process actually began is certainly an interesting discussion, but there was a creative act (or series of creative acts) that resulted in Mirai’s existence.
- Mirai’s creators attributed to their creation a name, and one that has meaning (Mirai means future).
- Mirai was given a gender as a defining and identifying trait. Gender is embedded in Mirai’s design.
- Mirai was created within a defined time-context. That time-context had nothing to do with the amount of time Mirai’s creation actually took, but instead has to do with how Mirai was designed to function.
In short, Mirai was created in the image of man, designed to function in its created capacities as human. Because of these inescapable truths, it is evident that even if consciousness and personality could be demonstrably reduced only to a series of computations, all that would be proven is design, not origin. In fact, Mirai’s creation is more affirmation of the Biblical creation account than not:
- Mirai did not happen suddenly by chance or through randomness and vast amounts of time. Mirai was carefully and precisely designed. Where did that process begin? Is such precision the likely descendant of randomness, time, and chance? Or is it more intellectually satisfying to understand that Mirai’s creation continues a chain of deliberate creative acts begun by a deliberate Creator?
- Mirai’s creators exercised sovereignty over their creation to name it and give it meaning. They possess the creators’ right of sovereignty, and an evidence of that sovereignty is expressed in the identity of their creation. Who or what created these creators? If the creator of the creators was a “what” rather than a “who,” than from whence were these creators named? The creation week of Genesis 1 reflects a sovereign Creator naming His creation, and then crowning His creative work with a creation that could name created things. The Creator passed along some elements of His (earned) sovereignty, and that is reflected even in Mirai’s naming.
- It is worth noting that Mirai’s creators recognize that gender is part of humanity’s core definition, and in trying to emulate human characteristics, thought it necessary to imbue gender. Gender and sexuality was a key element of humanity as originally created (Gen 1:26-27), and has remained inescapably central to design, function, and relationship.
- That Mirai’s creators utilized their right to create Mirai with appearance of age is also significant. In this maneuver is an acknowledgment within a scientific context that time factors are not always as they seem. If the human creators – scientists – of Mirai can attribute to their creation a time context suitable for design and function, then why cannot the Creator of the heavens, the earth, and all they contain do the same?
Mirai’s creation illustrates much about a creator’s sovereign rights over that which was created, and gives us cause to think about our own origin and design.
In Matthew 3 and 4, Matthew records how Jesus was confirmed as authentic (1) by His own verification of John through baptism (thus confirming that John was the messenger of Malachi 3:1, and that Jesus was indeed the Messiah), (2) by His Father and the Holy Spirit at His baptism, and (3) by properly handling the temptation of Satan. Jesus came proclaiming the coming of “the kingdom of the heavens” because He – the King – had come, and He called His listeners to change their mind about how they could enter His kingdom (4:17).
In the “Sermon on the Mount” (Mt 5-7) Jesus explained that the righteousness needed to be part of God’s eternal spiritual kingdom (that would one day come to earth) was not simply external and based on obeying law (i.e., works), but was internal and was rooted in holy character. Jesus’ point was to illustrate that His listeners did not possess that internal righteousness, and needed a redeemer. Hence, the need for repentance (change of mind).
It is very significant that Jesus moves from simply verbally proclaiming this message with great authority (Mt 7:28-29) to demonstrating His authority (Mt 8-9). He showed He had authority over disease and sickness (8:1-4, 14-15), over physical brokenness (8:5-13), over demons (8:16-17, 28-32), over the winds and sea (8:23-27), and ultimately over spiritual brokenness (9:1-8). Jesus showed that if He had the Creator’s authority over nature, then He also had the authority to resolve the great problem of human separateness from God (because of sin). Because He had the power to create and to command His creation, He had the power to straighten what was bent (Ecc 7:13). There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven by which humanity is saved (Acts 4:12). If He is indeed the creator as John claims (Jn 1:1-3) and as Paul claims (Col 1:16), then He is the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father but through Him (Jn 14:6). He is the One in whom we are to believe for eternal life (Jn 20:30-31).
The pursuit of AI is in itself a glorious pursuit, for in that pursuit we can clearly see God’s invisible attributes, eternal power, and divine nature expressed (Rom 1:19-20). Mirai’s creation is not a blasphemy – Mirai represents an incredible step in expressing the image of God in us, and invites us to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).
 Dehaene, Lau, and Kouider, “What is consciousness, and could machines have it?” in Science,, October 2017, Vol 358, Issue 6362: 486-492.