BABEL, GOD OF WORDS, AND LLMS | The Convergence of Language: AI, Babel, and Divine Discourse
AI and the Anti-Babel Phenomenon: The proliferation of AI technology, particularly large language models, is akin to an "anti-Babel" scenario where various silos of AI development come together under a common language. In contrast to the Babel story, where languages were confused and people scattered, AI is unifying technology under a shared language, potentially leading to unprecedented advancements.
The Significance of Language in Religion: Language plays a central role in understanding the divine across various religious traditions. The act of God creating the universe through speech underscores the importance of language in religious narratives. In Judeo-Christianity, the Bible is often called "The Word of God," emphasizing the divine connection to language and communication.
The enigma of the Word (LOGOS): The opening passage in the fourth gospel, "In the beginning, the Word (LOGOS) was with God, and the LOGOS was God. Then the Word became a man and dwelt among us," highlights the mystique surrounding language in religious contexts. The concept of LOGOS as both divine and incarnate suggests a profound relationship between language and spirituality.
TO KLAUS LUEHNING:
One of my most interesting recent thoughts involves a story you may be familiar with. Babel. As the story goes, people had learned to speak one common language and had developed brick technology (no more stacking odd-shaped rocks). It is said they were attempting to build a tower to the sky. This disturbed the deity. And he went down in person to check it out personally. This God did not like what he saw. And he “confused the languages” so that only some groups could understand others. They were then forced to get together by common languages and went their separate ways with the people with whom they could communicate naturally. Hence, the scattering of the nations.
The interest to me in this story is manifold. But when I heard Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin (two leaders in AI ethics) talking about the rapid proliferation of AI technology as a result of “all these silos of AI development finally getting together in large language models, essentially “all speaking the same language,” I thought, Wow. This is anti-Babel. Based on a common language, things are coming together again— the LLM, Large Language Model. I am not passing judgment on this; I am just noticing it.
Also interesting, since we are talking about God and language, it is said that God created the universe by speaking. The creation of the cosmos, purportedly, becomes a speech event. The God of the descendants of Isaac (Judeo-Christianity) and the God of the descendants of Ishmael (Islam) is a god who is very interested in language. People call the Bible "The Word of God." And in the fourth gospel, this very curious passage opens the account. No one knows what it means, “In the beginning, the Word (LOGOS) was with God, and the LOGOS was God. Then the Word became a man and dwelt among us.” It seems the Judeo-Christian God is a god who deals in language.