The A.I. Genie Is Out of the Bottle, but Can It Be Shifted from a Threat to a Gospel Tool?
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In the artificial intelligence industry, 350 top executives are warning future advancement could one day become dangerous to humankind. That's why groups like the Center for A.I. Safety warn we should take steps now to develop the technology responsibly.
"We could get to a state where the positives, where we can enjoy the positives if we bring A.I. development to a more cautious risk level," explained Dan Hendrycks, director of the Center for A.I. Safety.
The executives fear that a rapid advance in A.I. may lead to the loss of millions of jobs, and quantum leaps in language technology like ChatGPT could be used maliciously to spread propaganda and disinformation.
Christian groups believe that development poses major risks to missionaries. For instance, Jon Hirst, Innovation Officer at SIL International, suggests Christian adversaries could use A.I. to harm or embarrass ministries and their workers.
"A government could say, could create an A.I.-based thing that has one of our missionaries saying something against the government and post it on social media, and then you're going to have to assess, did they say that," Hirst explained. "If they didn't say it, how do we combat it? How do we respond to that?"
Hirst urges ministries to work together on systems and processes to validate identities.
Ted Esler is president of Missio Nexus, an association of U.S. and Canadian agencies and churches. He believes A.I. is here to stay and sees tremendous potential.
"The genie is not only out of the bottle, but at this point, I just don't see us turning back now," Esler insisted. "I don't see missionaries being automated any time soon. But the many, many, many applications that will be available to us have created this new wild frontier, and its impact will be huge."
That could mean limitless opportunities for Christian ministry. For example, Bible translators already use A.I. in their work on scripture translations, thus speeding up that overall process. Online chatbots could also direct people to the Bible and Christian resources in more than 4,000 languages, helping overcome cross-cultural communication obstacles.
"The ability to go from one language to another, the barriers are quickly being reduced... interacting between languages in ministry work, whether it's church planting, discipleship, planning, meetings, all these things, is going to go through some fairly dramatic pivots and shifts over the next few years," Hirst said.
And that's why Hirst and other ministry leaders believe it is important for Christians to keep their focus on who's behind the controls of the A.I. revolution.
"Are we allowing and designing our systems, ministries, and structures to make sure that humans stay in the pilot's seat and actually that God is in the pilot's seat, that we are looking to God and that we are using technology like that?"
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