There are many statements thrown around about AI which can easily instill fear because they promote the unknown, and the unknown is the birthplace of fear. But are those fears legitimate? Should we fear the future, or should we embrace it with excitement?
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science dedicated to the creation of software or hardware which can act, learn and adapt to the real world like humans do. It is all about amplifying human capabilities and automating tedious tasks to compliment what we do as humans, not replace humans.
It is less about plagues of killer robots, and more about using robotics to help kill plagues.
At its core, AI is the action of inputting data, processing data and outputting data. The processing aspect of it is built to learn, problem-solve, predict trends, answer questions and give recommended actions based on what the data says and the more it does it, the smarter it gets, hence the word intelligence.
Is Artificial Intelligence scary?
As mentioned earlier, there are many statements thrown around about AI which can easily instill fear because they promote the unknown, and the unknown is the birthplace of fear.
“Experts in the technology don’t agree on much but many are aligned on the potential dangers if AI is left unchecked.”
That said, AI is not a scary technology, however, it is a technology that aught provoke us as Christians to think deeply and differently, because any invention that attempts to mimic the actions of a human certainly raises questions.
Questions like, “Who will determine the ethical boundaries of AI?” “What is right and wrong?” “If humans cannot define our values, how will machines?” “What effect will AI have on the value and dignity of human work?” “Will AI results in unemployment?” “Could AI have a role to play in future peacemaking?” “Does the fact we ‘can’, mean we ‘should’?” “How will AI impact what it means to be human?”
Will Artificial Intelligence Change Faith?
The AI revolution has started to change and will continue to change society. This revolution will create opportunities for the Church and faith-based institutions. While it will not change faith as a belief, it may change what many people believe about faith, themselves and the world.
It is key that people of faith know “what” they believe, “why” they believe it and are able to simply and confidently share their belief.
A shifting cultural landscape will require us to hold tight to who we believe in, rather than holding tight to how our beliefs are practiced or outworked.
Will Artificial Intelligence help spread the Gospel?
Yes! In the same way that the Roman Road, the printing press, the television and the internet were each revolutionary for the spread of the Gospel, Artificial Intelligence will be revolutionary in reaching the “uttermost ends of the earth.” It will change the way the world operates, and in turn how the Gospel is spread.
AI certainly does not remove our responsibility to share the Gospel, it simply increases the opportunity. It doesn’t change the message; it simply changes the method of sharing.
We could use AI to spread the Gospel by …
- Translating the Bible into any language at any time, in real time.
- Developing unique ways to share Jesus to those with a disability.
- Identifying and intercepting people considering suicide or harm and sharing hope.
- Answering any question asked about Faith at any time, on any platform.
- Introducing people to Jesus and connecting them to a local church.
- Connecting people searching about Faith with Christians in their area.
- and much more …
How Can Christians embrace Artificial Intelligence and the Future?
We can embrace the future by knowing what we believe and why we believe it, by diversifying our skillsets and by being confident in our calling and obedient to the Holy Spirit.
3 other ways Christians can embrace Artificial Intelligence and the future
- Trust that God holds the future.
He is already in the future and knew the future in the past. He is not surprised by what is to come. When we face times which seem uncertain, we need to hold to what we know is certain. We need not fear the future and look to the past in search of security. The only reason to look back, is to be reminded of what God has done, to inspire us for what He can still do! His faithfulness in the past, reminds us to be fruitful in the future!
- Ensure church is Jesus centered.
Church may begin to take on different forms or expressions, but that won’t change the need for churches to be Jesus centered, culture leading, vibrant, life giving, innovative and big thinking. People are high-tech and high-touch; as we push further into tech, people will desire high-touch environments where they can connect with others and learn what it truly means to be human. If we can stay creative purveyors of the Gospel with a heart for community transformation rather than protectors of the Gospel focused on church preservation, we will find society looking to the church for grounding.
- Think differently about reaching people.
Don’t think about what has been done, think about what has not been done. Dream about how we could reach unreached people, how we could solve social issues and how technology could positively shape society. Think about this… People use AI chat-bots when they need to fix an internet issue, imagine if people could use AI chat-bots to fix a soul issue. People use AI to access predictive text when they write words in an SMS, imagine if people could use AI to access God’s word as a predictive text. People use AI to get street directions on Google Maps, imagine if people could use AI to get directions on life.
We might not know what the future holds, but we know who holds it. We know that fear and faith are the fruit of what we choose to focus on, so we decide to focus on Jesus, the perfecter of our faith. Because of this we can stand bold, courageous and victorious and face the future with excitement.
Reuben Skewes is an Australian pastor’s kid by birth, a graphic designer by trade and a husband by choice. He spent many years working with troubled teens, served as a pastor in his local church and currently is pioneering new ways to combine mission and artificial intelligence to share Jesus.