Wednesday, August 09, 2023

AI And Christianity

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The entertainment industry is so upset about artificial intelligence's possible effect on their industry that they have gone on a massive strike.

With Hollywood’s actors and writers currently striking in part over concerns about AI, what was once a movie premise now has come to define the film industry.

Hollywood actors and writers are not the only people expressing concern over the impact of  AI.

What about AI and Christianity?

Be informed, not misled.

The Los Angeles Times says, "With Hollywood’s actors and writers currently striking in part over concerns about AI, what was once a movie premise now has come to define the film industry."

"But automation isn’t just a showbiz concern, new polling for the Los Angeles Times shows."

The Times says, "Nearly half of Americans — 45% of them — are concerned about the effect artificial intelligence will have on their own line of work, compared to 29% who are not concerned, according to a new poll for The Times conducted by Leger, a Canadian-based polling firm with experience in U.S. surveys."

The paper says there are other issues, "But AI has been a prominent sticking point, with writers demanding limits on machine-generated scripts while actors push for regulations on the use of cutting-edge technologies to digitally 'clone' them — enabling studios to create new performances without actually needing an actor on set."

AI has already become a "big business."

The Times reports, "A torrent of money is flowing into the sector — $22.7 billion was invested over the first quarter of this year, according to the market research firm PitchBook — and consumer-friendly AI modules such as ChatGPT and DALL-E have rapidly found a mainstream following."

"Industries as varied as law, trucking, retail, policing and journalism are all staring down the barrel of an artificially intelligent future."

The Times says, "Even if these two strikes do change how the entertainment industry uses artificial intelligence, legions of Americans in other professions are anxious about AI — and after Hollywood, they may turn their focus to Capitol Hill."

A lot of people believe they are "staring down the barrel."

In a news conference last month, the president of SAG-AFTRA, Fran Drescher, stated that “artificial intelligence poses an existential threat to creative professions, and all actors and performers deserve contract language that protects them from having their identity and talent exploited without consent and pay.”

“If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble. We are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines,” Drescher added.

“This is not just a Hollywood phenomenon,” said Greg Cross, chief executive of the AI avatar startup Soul Machines. “AI is literally eating the world.”

Christianity and AI

Almost half of Americans, and 57% of those aged 18 to 34, are concerned about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on their jobs. 

According to the poll, 63% of U.S. consumers think governments must regulate AI to reduce the risk of replacing human jobs. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said that they think AI will inevitably replace some human jobs, 55% support the government regulating the use of AI, and 73% support including a disclaimer with all AI-generated content so that it is clearly identified.     

The Christian must be informed and mentally and spiritually prepared. AI is not going to go away anytime soon.

As Christians, we must guard our minds, be discerning, and take every thought into captivity.  

There are a thousand takes on whether AI will assist in spreading the gospel and helping individuals, or whether it will be a destructive, deceptive tool of Satan.

I think it has the possibility of both, with the downside being more weighted than the upside, based on what I've read so far.

A growing number of pastors are relying on AI to create their sermons, while a number of organizations are selling the tools to assist pastors. The argument for doing so is that AI will write a more effective sermon using the information input by the pastor or the pastor's assistants.

I strongly disagree.

While there may be ways in which AI can help spread the gospel---in my mind, this is not one of them.

The Christian Medical & Dental Association has written extensively on this subject from a medical and biblical perspective. 

Their study and commentary are extensive. It's a  long read, but I recommend you check it out on the link above.

I've spent time with some of the leaders of this organization in the past, making presentations to churches, etc., on other moral issues such as assisted suicide. I have found them to be the real deal.

When you go to their site, if you don't have time to read it all, scroll down to "Assessing Moral Responsibility."

Some excerpts:

AI is a type of technology, and technologies can be used either for good or bad purposes. Understood from this “dual use” perspective, AI is morally neutral. The consequences of the deployment of technologies, however, are not always evenly divided among good and bad outcomes. The way technologies are designed can constrain human choices, promote specific habits of use or, in some cases, introduce potential harms that are disproportionate in magnitude or duration in comparison to the beneficial effects. For a very powerful or potentially irreversible technology, all of these aspects must be considered in the ethical analysis guiding decisions about appropriate use or restraint.

The Christian understanding of human nature also encompasses a dual aspect. All human beings are created in the image of God and are designed by their Creator to have inestimable worth (Genesis 1:25-26). At the same time, all human beings are fallen. Human nature is both splendid and sinful. Scripture encourages us to seek righteousness (Matthew 6:33) while also reminding us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
AI machines are not human. This means that for AI operations, moral responsibility is ambiguous. When the AI diagnoses cancer, it may be unclear whether or to what degree the physician operating the device deserves credit. When the AI commits a medical error, it may be impossible to determine where the blame is due. Was the missed cancer the fault of the physician, the AI manufacturer, the AI programmer, or the AI itself? Can a machine apologize and mean it? A machine might be programmed to mimic the expression of remorse, but can it feel genuine remorse? Can it truly care about the patient?
The consistent witness of Christianity is that human beings possess unique dignity as image-bearers of the Creator and that Jesus Christ, the one and only Son of God, took on humanity (Philippians 2:5-7). This human dignity Christ affirmed in the Incarnation can only be seen as an obstacle to utopic projects seeking to replace human intelligence with a grand machine intelligence. The Christian, by contrast, humbly submits to the will of a loving God by seeking to have an attitude of mind like that of Christ (Romans 12:2, 1 Corinthians 2:16).


AI too easily accommodates a materialistic appraisal of intelligence. Taking as its model human intelligence, this reductionism to the physical to the exclusion of the spiritual can in turn influence how we regard our fellow human beings. We are less likely to value those whom we believe are essentially complex aggregates of macromolecules.

Philosopher Jay Richards observes, “The greatest delusion of our age is the paradoxical penchant to deny our own agency while attributing agency to the machines we create.”

The Christian perspective maintains that a strictly materialistic account of human intelligence needs to be revised.

We will continue to follow the development of AI and how it impacts Christians and the spreading of the Gospel.

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Vigilant. Be Engaged. Be Prayerful.