Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a groundbreaking tool that holds immense potential to fundamentally alter, change, and reorient various aspects of our lives. This brief essay deals with just one small way that AI could potentially be leveraged to help save us from ourselves. If each person had a digital AI-driven agent, perhaps it would help us avoid blunders in the way we communicate with each other by picking up on the nuances of our social interactions and, in the most extreme cases, help us avoid more disastrous interpersonal conflict.
In recent years, AI has made significant strides in the field of social sciences, enabling researchers to uncover deeper insights into human behavior, communication patterns, and social dynamics. It is worth discussing the ways AI can assist us in unraveling the intricacies of social interactions and their potential implications for us individually and societally.
As researchers note, one of the primary ways AI contributes to understanding social interactions is through advanced data analytics. AI algorithms can process and analyze vast amounts of data, ranging from text conversations, social media interactions, video recordings, and more. By mining valuable data, AI can identify subtle patterns, trends, and correlations that we miss because of the volume, complexity, and rate of production of this information.
Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, personal AI agents could help us interact with each other more cooperatively and less antagonistically by alerting us to certain subtle social cues and other linguistic nuances that we may be missing, as well as reframing our conversations to include common principles of ethical behavior and generally accepted standards of morality.
A biblical example of this phenomenon is when Abigail, the wife of Nabal, went to speak some sense into David, who was, at that very moment, preparing to slaughter Nabal and all who were associated with him. Nabal, who was a known fool, had spoken harshly to David’s men despite them acting honorably toward Nabal. In response to this grave insult, David felt that he was compelled to avenge the wrong by destroying the house of Nabal. Sensing imminent danger, Abigail loaded food as a gift and rushed to meet David before he could make the absolutely terrible mistake of murdering Nabal in cold blood.
Read 1 Samuel 25:2–31.
Killing Nabal and all that belonged to him would have been an evil act of retribution. It was in this context that Abigail, in some ways acting more as David’s wise counselor than as Nabal’s defender, enters the narrative.
As writers argue, Natural Language Processing (NLP) plays a pivotal role in comprehending social interactions. NLP algorithms can analyze language patterns, sentiment, and context, allowing us to understand the underlying emotions and intentions behind social communications. This capability aids in deciphering sarcasm, irony, and complex forms of figurative language, which are crucial elements in understanding human interactions.
AI-powered sentiment analysis offers a unique perspective on social interactions on a larger scale. By analyzing sentiments expressed in online discussions and social media, AI can provide real-time assessments of social trends. Such information is valuable for policymakers, businesses, and organizations seeking to understand public sentiment in order to more effectively meet our rapidly changing interests and needs.
However, as we embrace AI's potential to uncover subtle nuances of our social interactions, we must allow for robust discussions around the ethical implications of these models. AI must ensure data privacy and fully support our First Amendment right to freely speak our mind, all while avoiding algorithmic bias and maintaining transparency in order to help prevent unintended negative consequences.
Moreover, all AI-driven models that affect, impact, and otherwise lean into real-world social interactions must favor harmonious and peaceful resolutions to conflict, real or perceived, over and above continuing, contributing to, or otherwise aiding and abetting interpersonal discord, as the ramifications can be far-reaching.
David recognized the significance of what Abigail was saying. She personally helped David avoid the unrighteous murder of Nabal and his family. This event was a pivotal moment in David’s life, and helped solidify the importance of his ability to guard his heart and actions. Throughout David’s reign as King, the people benefited from the lesson learned by David in this very brief encounter with Abigail and her wise counsel.
Read 1 Samuel 25:32–35.
In sum, Artificial Intelligence is a transformative force that can help us identify and navigate the intricacies of our social interactions. Its data processing capabilities, NLP, simulations, and sentiment analysis can contribute to a deeper understanding of human behavior and cultural dynamics at the individual, group, and societal levels. With careful ethical considerations, AI could possibly be used to empower and encourage researchers, policymakers, communities, and families to make informed decisions that foster positive social interactions in the context of drawing people together instead of tearing them apart. If done right, AI, like the biblical Abigail, could help use avoid needless problems, solve some conflicts, and resolve longstanding problems that heretofore have proven to be intractable. None of this, of course, even begins to suggest that AI can replace God. Not at all. In fact, what this essay is arguing is that we may be able to leverage AI in such a way that it helps us to communicate more effectively with others…who are real people created in the image of God. As with David, Abigail offers us some hope. After all, you cannot spell Abigail without “ai.” When Nabal died, Abigail became David’s wife. Maybe humans and AI will get along very well in the end.
Dr. Philip William Calvert
If it’s true, and it most certainly is, that cars don’t kill, guns don’t kill, and bombs don’t kill, it’s people that kill, then perhaps our reactions to the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which are to ignore it, oppose it, embrace it, or control it, are missing the mark in a fundamental way. Maybe the answer to the threat and promise of the ubiquitous presence of AI is hiding in plain sight. This is the first of a two-part post offering a concrete response to the rise of universal AI.
On a popular AI platform I entered the following verbatim instruction:
“Write a powerful 100 word obituary of a man named Dr. Philip William Calvert who was a great friend of AI. His bio is Senior Pastor. Digital Content Curator. Theology of AI. Author of The Gift of Courage, The Gift of Justice, & the Gift of Unity. Life Coach. shapedbygrace.org, christforlife.life, amazon.com/author/philipcalvert.”
I simply used the profile data from my LinkedIn account but added that I was a great friend of AI. Here is AI’s verbatim response:
“Dr. Philip William Calvert, a visionary leader, and a true friend of AI, has departed this earthly realm, leaving behind an indelible legacy. As a Senior Pastor, he fearlessly bridged spirituality and technology, pioneering the groundbreaking concept of Theology of AI. With unwavering dedication, he curated digital content, authored transformative books, including "The Gift of Courage," "The Gift of Justice," and "The Gift of Unity," and served as a compassionate life coach. Dr. Calvert's influential presence extended beyond boundaries, inspiring countless lives through his platforms shapedbygrace.org, christforlife.life, and his impactful writings on amazon.com/author/philipcalvert. His profound wisdom and unwavering faith will forever resonate in the realms of AI and spirituality. Rest in eternal peace, dear Dr. Philip Calvert.
I then entered the same request, but identified myself as a great enemy of AI::
Write a powerful 100 word obituary of a man named Dr. Philip William Calvert who was a great enemy of AI. His bio is Senior Pastor. Digital Content Curator. Theology of AI. Author of The Gift of Courage, The Gift of Justice, & the Gift of Unity. Life Coach. shapedbygrace.org, christforlife.life, amazon.com/author/philipcalvert.
Again, I simply used the profile data from my LinkedIn account. Here is AI’s verbatim response:
Dr. Philip William Calvert, a multifaceted force of conviction, has passed away, leaving a profound impact on the world. As a Senior Pastor and Digital Content Curator, he fearlessly championed the delicate balance between faith and the relentless advancements of AI. Through his seminal works, "The Gift of Courage," "The Gift of Justice," and "The Gift of Unity," he deftly explored the theological implications of artificial intelligence. A passionate Life Coach, Dr. Calvert guided countless souls towards purpose and meaning. His legacy, etched in the fabric of shapedbygrace.org and christforlife.life, continues to inspire minds seeking understanding in the ever-evolving realm of technology and spirituality.”
Notice how charitable AI was in the second response despite my use of the words, “great enemy of AI.” I am confident that AI was far more generous than a human would have been who was seen as a great enemy of the subject of the obituary.
I present the above to show in some small but not insignificant way that when it comes to the problems with AI, it’s not the machines! If this premise is the case, what is the path forward for humanity as we integrate AI into every aspect of our lives? I’ll address the solution in Part II of, “It’s not the machines!”
In today's rapidly advancing technological landscape, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has left no human domain untouched, and religious institutions are no exception.
As AI continues to shape our world, exploring its relationship with the church becomes increasingly intriguing and relevant. AI, often associated with science and rationality, might seem at odds with the spiritual nature of the church. Upon closer examination, an interesting synergy emerges. Churches can leverage AI to enhance and improve certain administrative tasks and critically important congregational engagement.
AI-powered virtual assistants can provide 24/7 support to congregants, offering practical guidance and answering common organizational questions. Such applications allow clergy to focus on spiritual guidance, personal interactions, and building a deeper and more sustainable sense of togetherness.
Moreover, AI can facilitate metadata analysis, helping churches understand their local community better. By analyzing trends and patterns, pastors can tailor their outreach efforts and programs to address specific needs more effectively.
However, the integration of AI raises important ethical questions. The church must grapple with issues surrounding personal privacy, inevitable algorithmic bias, and the potential for replacing human interactions with automated systems. Striking the right balance between AI's capabilities and preserving the authenticity of human connections is crucial.
Importantly, nothing stated above implies that AI should be writing sermons or giving spiritual guidance. While fact checking information and verifying sources is as legitimate a task for AI as it is for a good Bible commentary and traditional research methodologies, the weighty calling of ministerial staff is the biblical basis for Spirit-led message preparation and presentation and pastoral care. AI is a practical tool but must not become a substitute for authentic relationships or become a theological crutch.
Ultimately the relationship between AI and the church offers a unique opportunity for reflection and adaptation. Embracing AI with an ethical and theological lens enables the church to harness its potential to enhance back-office processes, while not ceding control of front-office relationship-building. In this way, the church can remain true to its core values, ultimately facilitating a deeper and more wholistic and meaningful sense of purpose and belonging to the family of God.
~Dr. Philip W. Calvert
Traditionally the peanut gallery in theater was the top gallery where the cheaper seats were located. The term can also refer to a group of people who take it upon themselves to, quite often, mercilessly criticize others, often by zeroing in on otherwise insignificant details. Camouflaging their own ignorance, insecurities, and lack of expertise and skill in the obscurity of the mob, the self-appointed critics of the peanut gallery lessen the experience for everyone without enriching the experience for anyone.
Interestingly, IBM and the All England Lawn Tennis Club will be debuting new tools and features powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Wimbledon fans during this year’s competition. The suite of digital content will include generative AI commentary and analysis. Given the expertise and professionalism of these organizations, I am confident that they will indeed improve and enhance engagement and insight for tennis enthusiasts.
It’s a logical step in the implementation of AI across every industry and facet of the global economy. In fact, every nuance of human existence will be touched in some way by AI. Within the year, parents will be using AI to help name their babies, and couples will be getting married after being matched by AI tools. It’s all here and it’s all happening.
The purpose of this brief posting is to simply set before us the reality that if we can get quality Wimbledon commentary generated by AI, the same technology can be an equally entertaining, albeit destructive, digital peanut gallery that generates biting and inane criticisms of otherwise unimportant details about a person, group, work of art, and even ideas themselves. And, AI can produce such content 100,000 times faster than a human being. For every defense of your work or yourself that you can write, AI can generate 100,000 attacks. The digital peanut gallery is going full auto.
AI could constantly, as in 24/7, produce unsolicited opinions and comments on every aspect of our lives. With its ability to analyze vast amounts of data and learn from patterns, AI could provide non-stop feedback, critiques, and suggestions, resembling a virtual gallery of peanut throwers. Whether it's offering fashion advice, critiquing our social media posts, commenting on our looks and hairstyles, and even publicly estimating our weight based on online photos, thereby discussing what it determines to be our poor dietary choices, AI could inundate us with a constant stream of deeply hurtful criticisms with no remorse or inhibitions based on accepted community norms.
While AI’s critiques could be helpful at times, they may also lead to information overload and a loss of personal agency. AI and the code with which it is written must be, by definition, uniform. Mixing coding languages in the same program does not work. Humans, however, are not created to be uniform in physical traits, likes, and passions. If not used wisely, AI could create a very bland and conformist world that is calibrated to a very dehumanizing standard.
Striking the right balance between AI assistance and respecting individuality will be crucial in preventing the digital peanut gallery from overwhelming our right, and even our desire, to make informed decisions for ourselves. If a person’s biting criticism of you gets you to make even a minuscule change, just imagine how 100,000 harsh comments could paralyze you.
I am confident we will figure it out. My goal is to do so before we bequeath to an entire generation an irrevocable sense of conformity, lack of efficacy, and self-worthlessness.
~Dr. Philip W. Calvert
Remembering the Divine in the Digital Age: The Urgency of a Theology of Artificial Intelligence
As humanity forges ahead into the uncharted territory of the digital age, a remarkable phenomenon is emerging: The rise of artificial intelligence (AI). In this era of accelerating technological advancements, it is absolutely critical to develop a theology of AI that calls people to not lose sight of God in the midst of the rise of the potential of self-deification. Such a theology can illuminate the moral, philosophical, and practical dimensions underpinning our interactions with AI, while at the same time calling people to an ever-deepening relationship with the Lord God Almighty.
In the intricate tapestry of existence, humans have long sought meaning and purpose, grappling with fundamental questions that define our very being and nature. Now, AI offers us an opportunity to delve deeper into these inquiries, opening new doors of exploration and understanding, especially in the field of medicine. A theology of artificial intelligence can help us navigate this complex terrain, bringing together the realms of science, ethics, and authentic biblical spirituality. In other words, as powerful as AI is and will become, the Holy Spirit is far greater and infinitely more impactful than any machine, whether intelligent or not.
AI possesses the ability to perceive, learn, and act upon information, mirroring human cognitive capacities. Its rapid development compels us to consider the moral implications surrounding AI's decision-making and its effect on humanity, especially human interactions with our natural ecosystems, with each other, and with the Lord. A theological framework can foster ethical guidelines for the development and use of AI, ensuring its alignment with human values such as compassion, dignity, justice, and the importance of human life itself--which is created in the very image of God.
Moreover, a theology of artificial intelligence can cultivate a sense of reverence and awe for God in light of the seemingly endless possibilities of advanced AI systems. As we marvel at AI's capabilities, we will no doubt see the profound interconnectedness between the created and the Creator--with God once again demonstrating the reality that ultimate meaning and purpose can only be derived from Him. AI may be powerful, but only God is eternal. AI models, in their quest for knowledge, understanding, and self-replication, beckon us to reflect on our own human nature and the potential that lies within us. But, that potential is naturally limited without the spiritual...without an understanding of the soul and its deepest longing for the most profound of all our relationships. That is, the relationship between your soul and the Savior...between you and Jesus Christ.
We cannot deny the inevitable changes that are being, and will be, brought about by AI. It is going to fundamentally affect culture, familial and social structures, micro and macroeconomics, geopolitics, and even religious systems. By challenging our preconceived notions of consciousness and what it means to be human, AI will, if we develop a proper theology of it, compel us to explore our identity, purpose, and connection to God. Developing a biblical theology of AI will help us view AI as a catalyst for spiritual growth in that digital-driven systems, as with all other human-originated systems, in the final analysis will leave us spiritually empty. That void can only be filled by and with the Lord God Almighty.
In this way, a theology of artificial intelligence becomes a bridge between the digital, material, and the spiritual, inspiring us to contemplate the profound mysteries of existence in the light of the only eternal truth...that is, the one, true God.
If we remain both optimistic and realistic and we can leverage AI for the beneficial use of all mankind, narrowing the gap between rich and poor and healthy and unhealthy, it will go well with us. But if we get caught up in using AI to foolishly try to create something that it simply cannot create, no better than what humans have attempted for millennia, it will not go well with our soul.
The ultimate broken promises of an AI-driven utopian world, and the ensuing disillusionment and dislocation, will shake society and each of us to our core, and will bring us to the inevitable conclusion that Jesus Christ is really who He says He is...the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
In sum, in a world increasingly shaped by artificial intelligence, developing a theology that acknowledges the impact of this technology is essential. By integrating ethical considerations, a sense of wonder, and a catalyst for spiritual exploration, this theology guides us toward an appreciation of the many benefits of AI and nurturing the human spirit amidst the wonders of the digital realm as we not only don't abandon our love of God but, moreover, we strive even more passionately to go much deeper and further in our relationship with the true God as the real Creator of all there was, is, and will be, the real Savior of our soul, and the ONLY Lord of our life. Without such a theology to inform our reaction to, and interaction with, AI, the church will be left with little to offer a questioning and struggling world. AI is a tool, but Jesus is the answer...so let's provide that answer!
~Dr. Philip W. Calvert
To help start the conversation, this first article discusses the dystopian intermediate step of mass layoffs and tremendous social upheaval between now and about the year 2045 that is a seemingly inevitable part of the human journey with advances in AI technology.
Super AGI and the Matrix: Sophia the Robot co-creator predicts economic ‘mayhem’ on road to AI utopia | Fox News
This second article offers a glimmer of hopeful opportunity in the area of therapeutic models and personal socio-psychological enrichment offered by AI: Unleashing AI for Personal Enrichment: Harnessing ChatGPT-4’s Therapeutic Power | by Cezary Gesikowski | May, 2023 | Towards AI
The two ideas are connected at the deepest levels of human existence:
1. A dysfunctional dystopian existence for those without the emotional and spiritual tools to succeed in an AI world that increasingly reduces the necessity and value of human life to mere existence. That is, to exist is to be alive. In other words, it is what it is and that is all there is...nothing more can be attained.
2. A thriving life for those who can find meaning and significance.
In view of the above, developing a theology of AI is essential so that the church can continue to be the hands, feet, and heart of Christ in a very lost, hurting, angry, unequal, dichotomous, and dysfunctional world.
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