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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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27.01.2023

When AI Talks Like a Human, What’s Left for Us to Be?

As AI technology continues to advance, its ability to replicate natural human language has become increasingly impressive.

This development raises important spiritual questions about our perception of humanity, value, creativity, and purpose. From a Christian perspective, it’s important to consider how these advancements in technology align with biblical teaching.

One of the key considerations is the question of humanity. The Bible teaches that human beings are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), which sets us apart from all other forms of creation. If AI can replicate human language, does that mean it is also created in the image of God? Or does it call into question the uniqueness of humanity?

Another important question to consider is the value of creativity. The Bible teaches that we are created to be creative beings (Genesis 1:28). If AI can replicate human language, does that mean it is also capable of creating? Or does it devalue the creativity of humanity?

– Hello. Sorry to interrupt. I just thought you should know – everything you’ve just read was written by AI.

Did you notice?

ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence in question, is taking the world by storm. Trained on unimaginable amounts of human writing and speech, it boshed out those three paragraphs in about 10 seconds, for free. I didn’t give it any information – just asked it for some words on a theme. And presto.

As a writer by trade, that’s terrifying. This bell is tolling for me, just as it has for millions of machine-replaced workers before me. But, as my robotic overlord just explained, writers aren’t the only ones pausing for thought. Language is so tightly woven into our sense of humanity that for most of us this is a Rubicon crossed – the moment AI stopped being a fantasy and started feeling like a person.

Never before have our tools conversed with us as equals. So what can the Bible tell us about how to respond?

Well, Scripture doesn’t specifically address the concept of AI in the way it’s currently understood. However, it does provide teachings that can be applied to our interactions with technology. For example, the Bible teaches us to use our resources and abilities for the betterment of others, rather than for personal gain or harm. Additionally, it teaches us to be wise and discerning in our actions, rather than blindly trusting or fearing technology.

Actually, that last paragraph was the AI again. But it’s got a point… hasn’t it?

Josh Hinton
Head of Communications
LICC
(Mostly)

Comments

  1. Riding Lights Theatre are touring with a play on AI

    https://ridinglights.org/max-maxwell/

    By Nick  -  27 Jan 2023
  2. It is interesting that the CHAT GPT writing left me vaguely grumpy and unsatisfied- as though it was almost saying something but speaking in generalisations rather than making a point I could think through. I was distinguishing between the AI and human on an emotional level.

    By Cesca  -  27 Jan 2023
    • That is fascinating! It’s very clever, but it’s not very fun to read. I suspect that will change as time goes on, though…

      Josh Hinton
      By Josh Hinton Head of Communications, LICC
  3. ‘The Bible teaches that human beings are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), which sets us apart from all other forms of creation. If AI can replicate human language, does that mean it is also created in the image of God? Or does it call into question the uniqueness of humanity?’

    I would put it another way: The Bible teaches that human beings are created in the image of God: AI is created in the image of human beings

    By Charles Kirke  -  27 Jan 2023
    • Excellent point. Thanks

      By Frederic A Parker  -  27 Jan 2023
  4. I think Ai poses more of a threat to secular views of humanity than it does to Christian one’s because we are not only speaking and thinking things, but feeling and doing things. And even though there are films about AI and the ability to love … and AI able to make ethical decisions, I think it goes deeper. If one thinks of forgiveness for example, knowing the theory and even appearing on the outside to be living it, only God sees to our hearts and only God can change and redeem them. Some things are counterintuitive, spontaneous and even seemingly illogical – maybe like grace – and not automatic and pre programmable. No one can programme every single scenario. there will always be some thing not yet in the box. I think being made in God’s image is a great source of comfort and deep security because AI cannot replace God! And no matter how close it comes to ‘being human’- there will always be a depth and mystery that cannot be replaced.

    By Ally Berg  -  27 Jan 2023
    • Very well said. Thanks.

      By Frederic A Parker  -  27 Jan 2023
  5. The potential of ChatGPT is fascinating, from a professional poit of view and also philosophical/Christian point of view. I feel we’ve often avoided such questions, using technogy when essential (e.g. live streaming services) and philosophically consider our relationship to all technology to be equivalent to how we relate to hammers, but what when like this it clearly no longer is?

    Also, it would be very interesting to know what prompts you used?

    By Stephen  -  27 Jan 2023
    • Thanks Stephen – it’s definitely a watershed moment. I suspect in time we’ll start having to debate where the line is between ‘biological person’ and ‘digital person’ – or whether there is a line there at all.

      Prompt-wise, I believe I asked it for something along the lines of: ‘The opening paragraphs of an article about the implications of natural language processing AI for our understanding of what it means to be human, including insights from the Bible on how Christians should respond.’

      Josh Hinton
      By Josh Hinton Head of Communications, LICC
  6. No matter how complex so-called AI becomes, the only part of that title that is correct is the “artificial” part. It is, and always be, a parrot that feeds back what we feed it. It can manipulate language, analyze numbers, etc. based only on what is in the memory. There is no capacity for sudden new insights or inspiration.
    We are often amazed and amused by the insights and responses of small children who have limited vocabulary and experience. “AI” will never be capable of that.
    It is not created in the image of God, has no soul, cannot have original thoughts, cannot sin or repent, etc. unless it is programmed by us to mimic those things. Atheists and their like want to replace God with something, anything, that will justify their existence. This is just the latest effort. I believe that is not possible.

    By Frederic A Parker  -  27 Jan 2023
    • Thanks for your comment, Frederic. You raise a very good point about it having ‘no capacity for new insights and inspiration’ – it certainly feels as though AI should be incapable of originality, given it’s trained on existing datasets (although there is some debate about whether humans are capable of truly new ideas either, or just reworking the ideas they’ve taken in over their lifetimes). Either way, you’re quite right an algorithm could never replace God!

      Josh Hinton
      By Josh Hinton Head of Communications, LICC
  7. Nick Cave addressed this forcefully from a creative standpoint when a fan sent him an AI generated song ‘in the style of Nick Cave’, [ https://www.theredhandfiles.com/chat-gpt-what-do-you-think/ ]

    By Nick Horgan  -  1 Feb 2023
  8. Romans 9:27-29 “And every one of those whom God foreknew, He predestined, He called, He justified and they will be glorified.” There is a fundamental detail here that we can not avoid to consider. We are loved by God. We are known by him and called by our names. We were chosen. Being glorified, like C.S. Lewis says in ‘the weight of glory’ is to be known by Him, just like a kid that loves to be approved by its parents. We are children of God. And it will never be replaced by any technology. It is not a performance matter.

    By Daniel Nunes  -  19 Jul 2023

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