Could AI Build a Bio-Weapon? Biden Signs Order to Speed Up Safeguards, Christian Leaders Sound Alarm
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In the face of growing concerns over artificial intelligence, President Biden signed an executive order Monday to establish new standards for AI safety and security.
The order seeks to balance the needs of cutting-edge technology companies with national security and consumer rights, creating an early set of guardrails that could be fortified by legislation and global agreements.
Before signing the order, Biden said AI is driving change at "warp speed" and carries tremendous potential as well as perils.
"AI is all around us," Biden said. "To realize the promise of AI and avoid the risk, we need to govern this technology."
The order is an initial step that is meant to ensure that AI is trustworthy and helpful, rather than deceptive and destructive.
The order requires AI developers to share safety test results and other information with the U.S. government, and to ensure the safety of AI tech before it's released to the public. It would also create new standards to protect against using AI to engineer dangerous biological materials and establish an advanced cybersecurity program to make software and networks more secure.
Governments around the world have raced to establish protections, some of them tougher than Biden's directives. After more than two years of deliberation, the EU is putting the final touches on a comprehensive set of regulations that targets the riskiest applications with the tightest restrictions. China, a key AI rival to the U.S., has also set some rules.
Christians Question the Potential Positive, and Negative Effects AI Could Bring
With the rise of artificial intelligence, some Christians are expressing concern, not necessarily about the technology, but more so about the minds and moral standings of those behind tech advances.
"Technology is generally amoral. Computers aren't necessarily good or bad, but what you do with them... you know, on the moral issues. Christians need to be very concerned about AI because so much of the code and the algorithms that run the internet come from the souls and minds of Silicon Valley," noted Christian apologist Alex McFarland.
Other Christians point out there are plenty of positive opportunities that come with AI.
For example, multiple groups are already using it to translate the Bible into new languages.
Regardless of personal opinions, Congress of Christian Leaders President Johnnie Moore said the decisions made now regarding artificial intelligence will impact generations to come.
"This is the moment to press pause, to gather together, to ask the right questions, and to make sure the United States isn't just leading in technology, but that we're leading with our values too," Moore said.
Even Pope Francis has called on Christians to hold an open dialog on AI advances.
In an op-ed published by Christianity Today in June, Lansing, Michigan, Lutheran Pastor A. Trevor Sutton reminded pastors that "new technology has always been a source of fear, and sometimes more so by Christians. In the 15th and 16th centuries, for example, the printing press was a culturally disruptive technology that many within the church initially feared and rejected—and yet it had an incredible impact on global Christianity. Some argue that Bible software apps of the digital age have had a similar influence on the way we read Scripture today."
"I'm of the mind that the short-term panic surrounding generative AI (although not all AI) is overblown. But there will be many ethical implications to address in the long term," Sutton wrote.
"Some fear that if pushed to its limits, AI has the potential to do all our thinking for us and thus reverse the progress of human knowledge, ultimately making the world and the church less human," he continued.
"Either way, it won't be long before generative AI technology is woven into the background of our church lives—which is why it's important to learn how to engage with it wisely rather than try to avoid it altogether," Sutton concluded.
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