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  • Writer's pictureApril Gaddis

Weighing Pros and Cons of AI

A few weeks ago, Elon Musk and 1000s of other tech leaders started circulating a petition calling for a PAUSE on all major AI developments. This included calling for a moratorium on ChatGPT upgrades. We want to help equip you to think about the rise of Artificial Intelligence technology and how it is already changing our lives. How should Christians think about this issue? Guests: Dr. Joe Miller and Dr. Jeff Zweerink


Discussion with Dr. Zweerink and Dr. Miller

Dr. Jeff Zweerink is a Senior Research Scholar at Reasons to Believe where he examines how science and the Christian faith work together.

Dr. Joe Miller is a Professor at Grand Canyon University where he teaches on Christian Worldview.

This was a fantastic, interdisciplinary conversation, merging our guests' expertise in science, computer programming, ethics, philosophy, and theology. Here are the highlights from our conversation:

We started at the beginning:

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI) and where would we see it in everyday life?

Two categories:

1. Sentient beings, robots, that is not a biological organism

2. A computer system that is able to adapt and update itself and potentially change a future response (eg Waze or other GPS apps, social media ads/feed, Siri, etc)

What is ChatGPT?

Similar to typing out a text message on your phone and suggested (predictive) words pop up, ChatGPT is the amplified version. Thousands upon thousands of words/phrases have been downloaded and when a question is asked, ChatGPT will provide a predictive response.

Is ChatGPT a cause for concern in the realm of education?

It certainly could provide a way for students to cheat; however, ChatGPT is typically only successful in providing the "most popular" answers to questions. In other words, it provides the lowest order of learning and it is not able to provide more advanced responses, such as comparing & contrasting, analyzing/evaluating, or creative responses. However, significant concerns arise when ChatGPT begins suggesting/predicting students' areas of study or career trajectory.

What is the future of AI? What is on the horizon?

AI is showing up in areas typically reserved for human creativity, such as art and music. For example, when given a prompt, AI can draw a fairly decent picture or write, compose, and produce a fairly typical worship song.

It seems as though there is not much that humans do that AI is not going to be able to do at some level. The question is: what are we going to allow it to do?

What about the implications of AI in law enforcement? For instance, issues such as facial recognition technology, forging evidence against people, scamming/impersonating someone, etc.

This seems to be the direction this is going! If we use AI without a human behind it checking and making the ultimate call, we are going to have a lot of instances where people could get hurt because we haven't thought carefully about the technology.

What about the possibility of AI taking over entry-level jobs? What do we do when, as Christians, we believe in the dignity of work?

This is a big problem that we need to think a lot about! We could be taking jobs away from people who could be contributing members of society, simply because AI is cheaper, faster, never gets tired, etc. Entry-level jobs are part of human development of intelligence, capacities, and skills. In addition, the human decision-making aspect of jobs will be lost and/or the programmer's biases could negatively affect the outcomes that are determined by the AI.

So much of this conversation rests on our theology...the dignity and value of work, the value of people, moral implications, etc. We need to ask the question: Do we allow the technology to make the decisions or do we (humans) make sure we are using the technology and driving decisions? We need to use the AI as a tool and not allow the AI to form who we become as people.

Are there any boundaries that we as Christians need to establish in terms of AI? In other words, are there areas where we need to steer clear of and not go down certain paths?

It's not black and white in terms of certain uses being "in bounds" and others being "out of bounds", but it's more a matter of its implications (intrinsic vs instrumental value). For instance...a shovel on its own has no intrinsic value; it is just a tool, but HOW it is used (instrumental) has important implications (digging a hole vs hitting someone over the head). This is the same with AI...if the AI causes a person to be more connected to a machine, rather than valuing personal human relationships or if the AI causes a person to abdicate their role as a worker or decision-maker, these are concerns.

Concluding thoughts:

**It is so important that we understand our theology well! We need to be so familiar with who God is and how He values people, how He values work, how He values creation, and how He values our relationship with Him, that when we see things that diminish that, we'll recognize it right away as a counterfeit; we'll know how to think deeply and respond articulately.

**AI can seem appealing because of its ease and convenience; it takes out the drudgery and hard work. BUT, being human is a beautifully inconvenient experience, such as learning how to relate with others and learning how to master certain skills when they are very difficult. Because we are afraid of the inconvenient and the uncomfortable, we'll lose the capacity to relate, to love, to learn, to build societies that can function, to be able to participate in the give and take of life.

The team recommends these resources:

Check out the fabulous work our guests are doing in the realms of Christian Worldview, Science Apologetics, and Cultural Apologetics. There is a wealth of resources and articles at their websites:

All The Things Past Episode: Transhumanism

Connect with the Guest

Dr. Jeff Zweerink: @RTB_JZweerink

Dr. Joe Miller: @jrmiller777

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