… we have become so accustomed to relying on our phones and flipping to various Scriptures that we may not even recognize if The Word gets misrepresented.
My husband works in the tech industry with a team of rather brilliant guys who produce web design for a few other companies. Honestly, when people ask me what he does for a living, I often am not really sure how to answer because his job and roles within it are constantly evolving.
The truth of the matter is technology has advanced and developed at such a rapid rate in the last couple of decades, reaching and affecting nearly every population, that it has many people (even in the tech field) filled with both excitement and a tinge of uneasiness. While these new advancements have brought about many benefits, the overriding concerns are valid and, indeed, factual. Just over the last two years, the speed and power of technology have grown so exponentially that it has caused several in the “big tech” industry to issue out warnings. Elon Musk in a recent report said this, “AI is one of the biggest threats to humanity. For the first time, we have a situation where there's something that is going to be far smarter than the smartest human.”
So, what is going on here, and how do we navigate these new and emerging technologies? Well, let’s start with the basics and go from there.
What Is Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)?
The definition of Artificial Intelligence is rather complex and one of great controversy. If you asked ten random people what they thought AI was, you most likely would get a mirage of answers. So, let’s cut to the chase and define it in its simplest form. Artificial Intelligence is the use of computer-controlled machines or software that function like a human to perform a task or solve a problem. Hence artificial (fake human) intelligence.
We often see AI portrayed as a human-like robot, and while those are definitely out there, the more common AI “robots” are located all over our homes, workplaces, schools, healthcare practices, and communities. They are what we hold in our hands, they are weaved all through social media, they have made their way into apps that use facial recognition and our hands to store data, they are used for banking purposes and have even made their way into self-driving cars. If you have an Alexa, shop on Amazon, or ask Siri where the nearest grocery store is, you are using AI.
These mini “humanlike machines” give answers, quickly cite information, and can easily set the temperature of our homes, so it’s only natural to think that the benefits far outweigh the concerns. After all, they make life easier, are available 24/7, and have even provided major assistance in the advancement of medical treatments and diagnoses.
The Hidden Dangers
In order to understand the hidden dangers, we must first seek to know how computers “learn” and gather data. Maybe you have heard the term "algorithm." This word gets tossed around quite a bit in the tech and social media world. However, all it means is that computers are fed a certain set of rules and a bunch of information in large volumes to become more and more accurate. Essentially, they are trained by humans. That means they gather data and learn from every single human that interacts with them!
So, this may bring up the next question. If we are basically “feeding the computer,” so to speak, how can that lead to any concern? I believe the answer is two-fold. First of all, if we are all interacting with it, these machines are gathering a ton of information from various users, which can distort or manipulate the real truth (John 1:1). The other growing concern is that some big tech companies are contributing massive amounts of information, essentially “playing God” and making these machines more and more like humans. As believers, we know there is only One who can make life (Genesis 1:27), and let’s be clear here – robots, tech, AI (whatever you want to call them) will in no way shape, or form ever replace the human interaction that we were designed to crave and thrive from (1 John 1:6-7, Psalm 55:14, Proverbs 17:17). In other words, there should be nothing that substitutes that of human interaction.
What we must understand is that currently there is only one type of AI, and it has the capability to perform limited tasks, such as the ones already mentioned. These devices and machines are not capable of deep connection or understanding human nature and behaviors. However, with the rapid rate of growth and current trend that we are heading towards, there are growing concerns that AI may be programmed to function more and more like humans tapping into human cognition and emotions. This is obvious grounds for concern with the possibility of moral and devious impacts.
We are already seeing some of those impacts as several global leaders issue their own concerns and risks that come with the uptick of AI, while others use it for regulation and possible means of defense. Currently, the Chinese government is using AI for surveillance of their citizens with facial recognition and tracking systems, as well as for military innovations. Meanwhile, other countries such as Italy and Japan have banned certain apps including ChatGPT.
As more and more people grow worried about their jobs, safety, security, privacy, and threats to freedom due to AI, it’s apparent we need to understand how our global leaders are using and responding to AI. However, more importantly, we must understand how we are to respond to this rapid movement as faithful believers.
Responding in Faith
My first response to the current uprise and evolving changes in artificial intelligence is this: pray for discernment and have a tangible copy (or copies) of The Word. Yes, get copies of the Bible right now, even in several different versions. Why, may you ask? The reason being that we have become so accustomed to relying on our phones and flipping to various Scriptures that we may not even recognize if The Word gets misrepresented. The pages of The Word are clear and cannot be twisted (Deuteronomy 4:2, Revelation 22:18-19).
As AI is basically being infiltrated in every facet and line of work, including ministry, we must etch His precious Word in our hearts (Proverbs 3:3) and guard our thoughts (Proverbs 4:23-27). While AI sermons can be used to spread the gospel and share the good news, we must be able to discern when it does not line up with Scripture and sends the wrong message. Remember, the deceiver uses all kinds of distractions, and this “new creation” could be just the right tool to deliver false hope.
That said, as believers, we need to be earnestly seeking God’s will and asking for His wisdom on how to navigate these times and the nature of AI. Whether you are involved in a church mission group or ministry, or are a social influencer, we can use AI to our advantage and start “programming” and placing nuggets of data that lead people back to the real Truth. Now, possibly more than ever, people need to hear the good news! It isn’t hard to see that there is a great shift and falling away from the faith, with the church being the prime target of the enemy. So, we must be diligent in reminding our fellow brothers and sisters of God’s faithfulness, holding each other accountable and encouraging one another to keep running this race! We must also share the good news and offer a message of hope to non-believers, giving them a glimpse of the amazing love our God has to offer.
Friend, now is a time of action! We need to respond in faith and hold onto the truth that God does not give us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), but rather of passion to live this life with bold conviction (John 14:6). As believers, we have the hope of knowing Who is in control and Who holds the future. So, let’s not let this latest technological advance throw us into a frenzy, but rather make us stronger and more reliant on God!
So yes, we can surely embrace the changes that are lurching us forward but still plan to use AI how God directs. Go ahead and ask the tough questions, learn more about it, and think about its impacts, all while leaning into our faithful God and His promise to always be with us (Deuteronomy 31:8-9). We may be living in a world that is ever-changing, but thankfully, we serve a God who never ever changes! His mercy, love, grace, and compassion never fail! Praise be to God!
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Supatman
Alicia Searl is a devotional author, blogger, and speaker that is passionate about pouring out her heart and pointing ladies of all ages back to Jesus. She has an education background and master’s in literacy. Her favorite people call her Mom, which is why much of her time is spent cheering them on at a softball game or dance class. She is married to her heartthrob (a tall, spiky-haired blond) who can whip up a mean latte. She sips that goodness while writing her heart on a page while her puppy licks her feet. Visit her website at aliciasearl.com and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.