By James Spencer for FOX NEWS
People of faith must approach AI with the sense-making Abram demonstrates in Genesis 14
We tend to view progress as (1) inevitable, (2) necessary, and (3) good for everyone.
It is inevitable, in part, because we must have new ideas and tools at our disposal to address emerging challenges. Progress is necessary because without it we may become incapable of surviving (or being comfortable) in a broken world.
It is good for everyone because its fruits make it easier to survive in the systems we have created. We, and we assume everyone else, are better off than we would be if forced to deal with the struggles of previous eras.
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This perspective on progress tends to ignore the more entrenched ways we make sense of our social worlds. For instance, in “The Civil War as a Theological Crisis,” historian Mark Noll argues after the Civil War, “two great problems in practical theology confronted the United States.” The first was the ongoing problem of racism, which was not solved by abolition.
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The second “was the expansion of consumer capitalism, in which unprecedented opportunities to create wealth were matched by large-scale alienation and considerable poverty in both rural and urban America.”
If Noll is correct in his assessment that consumer capitalism was left largely unaddressed after the Civil War, it would seem wise for God’s people to consider the influence of economics on the world today, particularly in light of recent “technological advancements” such as artificial intelligence (AI).
While AI is currently dominating popular conversation, we need to guard against our tendency to focus on the symptom (e.g., the social disruptions associated with AI) rather than addressing underlying mechanisms driving symptoms forward.
AI’s economics must provide sufficient benefits (monetary or otherwise) for companies and investors. We seem to be repeating a pattern similar to the widespread adoption of social media despite our awareness of social media’s negative consequences. Economic logic is one of the drivers behind AI product launches despite the known problems and potential risks associated with AI.
To be clear, I am not arguing for a move toward socialism. Creating a sucker’s choice between capitalism and socialism distracts us from more robust discussions of the challenges posed by consumer capitalism and the various ways such challenges might be overcome.