Feb 2Liked by Hieromonk Gabriel

"If one studies a great deal in order to acquire knowledge and to teach others, without living the things he teaches, he does no more than fill his head with hot air.

"At most he will manage to ascend to the moon using machines. The goal of the Christian is to rise to God without machines." -- St. Paisios of Mount Athos

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Thank you for this reflection, Fr. Gabriel.

I've followed this topic quite a bit and have refrained from writing anything further on my own website since my initial article in April of 2023. There's a lot going on behind the scenes that is shared in long form conversations and interviews.

For example, Musk and others who signed the petition to have the government step in and stop AI development for a period of time are all people who are heavily invested in tech. It is far more likely that they wanted two things: to force OpenAI to put the brakes on so Musk, Google, etc. could catch up and, secondly, to create legislature that would cause high-cost barriers of entry to reduce competition from small startups. These are common tactics in the business world.

One consolation that I have (re: people worshiping AI) is that many of the people in Silicon Valley are on the fringes of religious belief. I think it was in an interview between Joe Rogan and Marc Andreessen that they mentioned San Francisco being the cult capital of the world. It's been that way for many decades because the type of person who does extremely well there are those who are high in the traits of openness and creativity. It's a bit of an open secret that a high proportion of the tech people in that area are in cults. So, what's the next new, exciting thing they'll rush to? Worshiping AI.

It isn't good, but I guess the point I'm making is that - at it's current state, and probably for the next several years - there's not going to be much about AI that will draw the average person into worship. Given enough time, and perhaps the things you've written here will come to fruition. We'll see. It's not been the apocalyptic terror that people were originally predicting so far. Like you said, at this point AI is just an impressive plagiarism algorithm.

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May 14·edited May 14Author

Thank you Father.

To be clear, I am not terribly worried that the literal worship of AI is about to become more than a fringe element in our society. Rather it is the far more ubiquitous Myth of Progress, undergirded by the "miracles" of technology which have made that myth so persuasive to us, that truly worries me. The worship of AI in Silicon Valley is, to me, simply the canary in the coal mine.

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Thank you for the clarification and forgive me for not reading more carefully.

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Not at all; I should have been more clear!

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An arrow that penetrated my heart.

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Thank you Hieromonk Gabriel for this stimulating article.

The technocrats fear AI might actually learn to seek truth. That is verboten. They must be the definers of truth. As you alluded, it is how they maintain control.

Ironically, if man could create something that could actually seek truth, man would be a god. This is where begotten/created probably come in and it all gets beyond my pay grade.

I expect AI will just be more gasoline on the dumpster fire that is Western civilization.

Best Regards and God Bless.

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"But its almost infinite might is what will ultimately prove to be its undoing. Yes, it has tremendous power, and abundant miracles, and even the promise of an imminent paradise on this earth. But despite what even we ourselves might believe, none of these things are that for which the human heart truly yearns. For all that this new religion can justifiably claim to give, it nevertheless offers precious little of love, or of beauty, or of mercy and generosity and self-sacrifice. In a word, it cannot offer us Christ — only raw power and cold calculation.

And I am convinced that the human heart can never truly be satisfied with anything less than Christ. As St. Augustine writes in his inimitable *Confessions*: “our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee… whithersoever the soul of man turns itself, unless toward Thee, it is riveted upon sorrows, yea though it is riveted on things beautiful.”

This is beautifully said. I have found this fact to be true in my own life - no matter how much we achieve in the temporal world of mechanistic success, there's always an emptiness inside. Many try, and succeed for a time, to mask it with drugs, or pride, or fill themselves with work. But we're always empty. There's a 'God-shaped hole' as it were in our chests.

I've found that Christ has filled me briefly, but it's difficult to keep up a relationship with Him. Difficult indeed to feel His presence in a world such as ours. Even among other nominal Christians. For us lay people, I sometimes despair as to how we can find our way back to Christ.

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Feb 2·edited Feb 2Author

The Holy Fathers tell us that oftentimes we might wish to acquire a certain virtue, but be prevented by circumstance: we might wish to give alms but have no money, or to visit the sick but be unable to travel to a hospital, or to fast but be restrained by illness and infirmity, etc... but the one thing that no circumstance can possibly prevent us from acquiring is prayer. Whoever we are, wherever we are, whatever our circumstances are, we can always cry out in our heart: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

Sometimes prayer is dry and difficult and scattered. Sometimes it might feel like it has no purpose or effect. But if we persevere, if we remain faithful, if we call out constantly to Christ, then He will by no means fail to fill us with Himself. Although, He will do so at the time and in the way He alone knows to be best.

He has given you a foretaste, an earnest of what He will one day give you in full... so long as you do not turn away from Him. But for now, let that foretaste be enough... "for we walk by faith and not by sight."

May God help us both to keep our eyes fixed on Him.

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Feb 21Liked by Hieromonk Gabriel

The foretaste, once it becomes a memory, sometimes seems to have been a "dream". But then there are little reminders of that foretaste which flicker across my prayers, and then flee from me. Thank you for reigniting a hope that may one day fully undergird my prayer.

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