Now that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly developing in every sector of society, what concerns and cautions does this new technology present? How can we ensure that Artificial Intelligence systems are transparent, accountable, aligned with our values and goals as a society?
Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #86 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a rapidly evolving field, and there have been significant advances in recent years, most recently making available to the public, ChatGPT, a general purpose AI system capable of understanding and generating responses on a wide range of topics, from science and technology to history, literature, religion, and more.
In seconds, ChapGPT – as well as a growing list of similar generative AI tools like JasperChat, Chat by Copy.ai, Chatflash AI, GrowthBar, Rytr Chat – is able to access a vast corpus of text data, including books, articles, and other sources of information, and is capable of generating complex and nuanced response to a wide variety of questions. These chatbots can be used to create new content from scratch, including marketing copies, audio files, code snippets, high-quality images, simulations, and videos.
AI sounds good, and in many ways it may be. Some of the key developments include:
- Machine learning: Machine learning algorithms allow computers to learn from data and improve their performance over time.
- Deep learning: Deep learning is a subset of machine learning that involves training artificial neural networks with large amounts of data. This approach has led to breakthroughs in image and speech recognition.
- Robotics: Advances in robotics have enabled the development of autonomous vehicles, drones, and other machines that can perform complex tasks.
- Natural language processing: a branch of AI that deals with the interactions between computers and human languages. This technology has led to the development of virtual assistants, chatbots, and other applications.
- Computer vision: Computer vision is a field of AI that focuses on enabling computers to interpret and understand visual information from the world around them. This has led to breakthroughs in areas like facial recognition, object detection, and autonomous navigation.
Generative AI like ChatGPT might be the lowest, almost entry-level AI, seemingly not that threatening and only thus far making our workdays easier. What’s already out there, though, in terms of robotics, smart cars, military defense systems, healthcare, and much more is indeed fraught with a number of intimidating if not menacing potentials.
Despite these impressive advances, there are still many challenges that need to be addressed before AI can reach its full potential. The leading concerns and cautions include:
- Identity Protection and Security in the face of Deep Fake AI capability that can now generate entirely believable audio/video presentations that make people say or do things they never said or did. This includes pornography.
- Privacy and Security, or the ability of AI software to learn, remember, analyze, and make available individual private life decisions to corporations or governments.
- Emerging capacity of machines to presumably develop emotions, control, spiritual sensitivity, moral reasoning. The concern is the possibility of AI becoming too powerful and threatening human autonomy, and thus, require religion to rethink what it means to be human.
- Loss of jobs due to new technology and a consequent economic disruption.
- The potential for AI to become uncontrollable and unpredictable, leading to unintended consequences.
At this point, we don’t know what we don’t know.
“The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) spent nine months working on “Artificial Intelligence: An Evangelical Statement of Principles,” a document designed to equip the church with an ethical framework for thinking about this emergent technology.
“The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention issued the statement, Artificial Intelligence: An Evangelical Statement of Principles in April 2019. The document was published with the endorsement of sixty-five signatories.”
The AI Statement’s Preamble noted:
“As followers of Christ, we are called to engage the world around us with the unchanging gospel message of hope and reconciliation.
Tools like technology are able to aid us in this pursuit. We know they can also be designed and used in ways that dishonor God and devalue our fellow image-bearers. Evangelical Christians hold fast to the inerrant and infallible Word of God, which states that every human being is made in God’s image and thus has infinite value and worth in the eyes of their Creator. This message dictates how we view God, ourselves, and the tools that God has given us the ability to create.
In light of existential questions posed anew by the emergent technology of artificial intelligence (AI), we affirm that God has given us wisdom to approach these issues in light of Scripture and the gospel message. Christians must not fear the future or any technological development because we know that God is, above all, sovereign over history, and that nothing will ever supplant the image of God in which human beings are created.”
The Statement then lists 12 Articles or affirmations about AI based upon an Evangelical biblical worldview. Paraphrasing some points:
- Human beings are made in the image of God and technology can never usurp this.
- AI technology is good if used within the moral will of God, it must never be used to degrade human beings, and AI “cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs.”
- “While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.”
- AI should never be used to “violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.”
- “We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes.”
- “We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights.”
- “We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers.”
Jason Thacker, who headed the AI Statement of Principles project for ERLC, said, “’As Christians, we need to be prepared with a framework to navigate the difficult ethical and moral issues surrounding AI use and development,’ ‘This framework doesn’t come from corporations or government, because they are not the ultimate authority on dignity issues, and the church doesn’t take its cues from culture. God has spoken to us in his Word, and as his followers, we are to seek to love him and our neighbors above all things (Matt. 22:37-39).’”
As to AI, one might ask, What Would Jesus Do?
Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s rexmrogers.com.
And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.
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