As the conversation about the benefits and dangers of Artificial Intelligence occurs within our academic, business and political cultures, Dr. Sam Wells, Vicar of St. Martin in the Fields, London, brings the Christian church into this larger conversation. Preached on July 16, 2023, Pastor Wells begins:
Reading for address: Romans 8: 1-11
“Earlier this year, the CEOs of the leading global tech research organisations announced their recommendation that ‘Mitigating the risk of extinction from artificial intelligence should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.’ This statement marked a parting of the ways.
Up until this year there’d been two conversations about artificial intelligence. The dominant one was one of promise: it was about how artificial intelligence was coming to be used in more and more ways that both took over the roles performed by human beings, resulting in less burdensome work and more leisure, and offered to improve the results of human investigation. The quieter conversation was one of threat: it was about how AI could jeopardise human existence, either by becoming as superior to humans as humans are to gorillas, or by being so set on achieving its goal it stopped at nothing to obliterate humankind. What the tech CEOs are now saying is that the conversation about benign promise has been superseded by the conversation about looming threat. So it’s time for some serious consideration of AI and of how church and world should respond to it.