“ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND THE BIONIC POOCHIE” is the title of my post from June 16th of 2021. I now resurrect it, giving it a thorough editing and augmentation after being thunderstruck by the analogies between A. I. and Psalm 115, highlighting the First Commandment along with a good excuse to publish that screwball piece again.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. M. L. Meier
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. M. L. Meier, Public Domain


Somewhat akin to the Leatherneck version pictured above, yes, that was a $75,000.00 robotic “dog” walking, or being walked, in a New York City park in June of 2021. It looked like an outlaw biker’s ‘teardrop’ gas tank on jointed, paw-less stilts. The four-legged contraption meandered clumsily up to a little girl in a stroller, seemingly wanting to investigate the little human in the seat. The Mama Grizzlie at the helm of the stroller was understandably on her guard, and stepped around to the side, maternally apprehensive…

One might have scratched the metallic poochie behind its ear, as most all poochies love that. But it had no ear to scratch behind, and consequently no ability to listen to a human voice. You get it. It had no head, just an elongated tank walking on four jointed sticks. A remote-control programmer might have taught it to “shake-a-paw”, but it had no paws to shake.

The darkly shiny cur had no tail to wag, so no wag to reveal its degree of happiness at an encounter with a friendly human. No tongue hanging out, no slobber, no smell, no wag, no warmth. Any domestication was an artifice, as its actions were beyond unpredictable. It must be a safe poochie though, for having no head no nose and no teeth, how could it ever bite?? And so constructed without paws, how could it ever claw someone?

The homo sapiens two-leggers milling about it were unable to talk with it, for without respond to my goofy human approaches customary for a flesh-and-blood dog . And you might have observed but had no means to evaluate its mood from its erratic back-and-forth moves, never still, almost jerking to and fro. Did it have a mood at all? Did it have a brain, or mind, at all? Was it able to think for itself at all?

Its brain had to be some sort of a receiving device in that tank body. For its motions were being controlled by another, a controller who was not apparent, but ever so near…

No one seemed to fear it, not even the toddler in the stroller. Its strangeness was evident, without eliciting much sense of caution in the observer. The object was the size of a dog, the structure of a dog (sans head and tail), its movements not entirely unlike those of a dog,

Any trepidation at its appearance and behavior did not come from its strangeness alone. That fear came from two things: its unpredictable behavior, and the fact that it was controlled from a distance. The poochie was not in control of itself, but by the one at the controls, a detached controller. That controller off to the side of the camera shot was indeterminate. The entire focus of the clip was on the dog-like critter.


This encounter with a headless, tailless, barkless, biteless, scratchless, ‘bionic’ poochie meandering around the human is a parable of appearances (lifeless in itself) and controls (remote). Nothing was “Bio-” about it. Soulless but animated, distant but somehow menacing as without visible restraint. If I had been in the place of that Mama Griz, the creature would have been shooed away. We do well to ponder how such entities without apparent control create uncertainty and the consequent sense of foreboding felt by many seeking answers so as to make ready for whatever may come next.


Source: mikemacmarketing Website: Mike MacKenzie via;
Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic. Used by permission.

For the past few years, certain authors caution that at an indeterminate but foreseeable point, Artificial Intelligence will exceed human abilities to control it. George Dyson’s recent book entitled, “Analogia: The Emergence of Technology Beyond Programmable Control” is one example, in spite of the very mixed reviews concerning it. As the title implies, Dyson traces developments in modern technology from the eighteenth century philosopher Leibniz through the analog era to the digital age and the emergence of Artificial Intelligence, confronting the reader with portents concerning the question of human abilities to control things to come. My question given the parable above is which humans? What high-tech consortium will grasp those remote reins of everything from our banking and financial systems to that which controls the collective military might of nations, our food supply, and perhaps our natural rights as created in the image of the Creator of us all?

Until that intelligence progresses beyond the controller’s own ability to control it? That also is a prospect for them to consider in humility, cognizant of the boundless limits of the human ego proper. Wisdom instructs only the wise beyond knowledge that our own sinful egos must be willing to receive correction. Such a recognition just might initiate an artificial humility in their creations.

We as a free people (for the time being) fear the growth of authoritarian governments beyond the level of the local as is clearly shown by the expansion of tyrannies at state and federal levels over the past eighteen months. The trend toward totalitarianism contained in legislation currently under consideration in the very Congress presents threats far beyond mask mandates and imposition of social gathering sizes, extending to federalized control of everything from the election process to religious liberties and more. Should the portents of unstoppable digital escalation generate increasing threats as the distance between the controlled and the controllers increases, we need imagine an apocalyptic horror of what happens when the controllers find themselves controlled by that which is not at all controllable. Dyson finds for a gradual restoration of an analog age or even a more pre-modern world, a result dubious in view of the potential for sheer confusion and even destruction upon the collapse of a comprehensive A.I. system.


Author: Wellcome Library, London
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A desire to control others that is part and parcel of the socialist psyche has one principle enemy, the God of the Hebrews and the Christians in company with others of the Abrahamic ethos along with every liberty loving human (Genesis 12:1-3). For when the God appeared in history by Name on Sinai, that God came as the consummate liberator. That God sought to dwell with His chosen people and the sojourners among them by covenant, not domination.

The Covenant given to Moses on Sinai is that of a suzerain deliverer from bondage (Exodus 20:1-17). The God identifies self by name, YHWH (the self-existent One), and claims that this God is “your God”. The Liberator then clearly states His claim on the liberated people, “I have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Then comes the ‘therefore’, the ‘Part Three’ of the Covenant, the stipulations of the Covenant showing them how they are to live given their newfound freedom. The first of the stipulations is of course, “You shall have no other gods before me”. Note that the Liberator makes no claim that He is the only conceivable “god” there might be. To paraphrase Martin Luther, a ‘god’ is anyone or anything in which we place our ultimate trust and value. Another of the Reformation-era theologians branded the entire human race as “god-making engines”.

Throughout their history, the Hebrew people had a tendency to lapse into idolatry. Every educated person is familiar with the ‘golden calf’. The Covenant given at Sinai was broken at Sinai, before Moses brought the tablets to the people, indeed, before the “ink was dry”.


The Psalmist in composing Psalm 115, and more briefly in Psalm 135, reflects on the root nature of the sin of idolatry, then humorously defines it:

4Their idols are silver and gold,

The work of men’s hands.

5They have mouths, but they speak not;

Eyes have they, but they see not;

6They have ears, but they hear not;

Noses have they, but they smell not;

7They have hands, but they handle not;

Feet have they, but they walk not;

Neither speak they through their throat.

8They that make them shall be like unto them;

Yea, every one that trusteth in them.

Psalm 115:4-8, American Standard Version, 1901

And akin to the faux canine noted above, the idols of the nations called to the mind of the Psalmist creaturely appearances of the natural order, yet without functions appropriate to them. Curtly put in the words of the noteworthy classicist Edith Hamilton in Mythology, “The Greeks created their gods in their own image”. Some contemporary renditions of verse 8 place the idol creators in a present tense, “Those who make them are like them”. Referring to the makers of an object of worship for others to follow, that misses the point. For when a human fashions an idol, that act of creating a god for the purpose of persuading others to ascribe qualities of some divinity or natural activity to it, presupposes the human idolater to be God.

No created entity is able to give the gift of humanity to A. I. or to any other creation, whether a merely artisan or mechanical, or even a clone of a living being. The very concept of humanity is ours to celebrate and to enjoy, but not ours to give. If not ours to grant, then humanity itself is necessarily of our Creator, the self-existent Other beyond us. That One created each of us in His own image, and to be free before Him.

The Irish statesman John Philpot Curran, during a speech given in Dublin in 1790, said that, “The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance.” The religious virtue of vigilance is called forth, yet in the civil sense. No “sectarianism” is implied by Curran’s quote, but only God the Other as the source for that condition among humans of whatever culture. No matter which faith we profess, or no faith at all, vigilance in the face of expanding technological uncertainties must become a primary motivation toward participation in common discourse, and the liberty of every man and woman the object of our engagement with the A. I. culture and its images of what we might accomplish, before it overwhelms us. That vigilance calls for us to take careful account of who is at the switches.  

Father David+

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.