Something happened in the past couple of months that is truly going to revolutionize the world. An online artificial intelligence (AI) called “Chat GPT” (Generative Pre-Trained Transformer) was released free & open to the public. There are other similar chatbots being developed by big tech companies, including one in China. It has already become very popular & registered a record number of users faster than any other site.
What does it do? You can ask it any questions or assign it any task & it will generate human-like, conversational responses. It truly is amazing, even though it’s still in its infancy. It’s more than a search engine because it carries on conversations with you & composes whatever you’d like it to. And it’s learning more all the time. It will become the go-to source for all information, & whoever controls it shapes society.
AI will significantly reshape the marketplace & labor force. We’re already seeing the “blue-collar” workforce in danger of being replaced by robots, drones, & driverless cars. As it continues to advance, AI will replace many “white-collar” jobs as well. This leads us to ponder what humans will do if they’re relieved from labor—will they experience a utopia or nightmare?
It can write essays & term papers for school. Programs are being designed to also detect when a student turns in an AI-written paper, but you can also bet that it will simply be absorbed as a useful tool like calculators which were previously banned in classrooms. It can write resumes & help with job interviews. It can code. It can give advice, compose original songs, write poetry, &…oh yeah, sermons.
Recently a New York rabbi made news for preaching a full sermon, & then revealing that it was written by AI. I too told Chat GPT to write a brief sermon…& it was pretty good (though I didn’t use it!). I asked it to write a love letter to my wife, & I read it to her. She thought it was really good…but I did fess up that I wasn’t the author.
You can even tell it to write in a certain style. For example, I could tell it to write a sermon on Romans chapter 1 mimicking the style of Billy Graham…& it will! I even told it write it in the style of Snoop Dogg, & here’s the first paragraph it generated: “Yo, what’s good y’all. It’s ya boy Snoop Dogg, comin’ at ya live with a sermon straight from the Good Book. Today, we’re talkin’ ’bout Romans Chapter 1, and let me tell ya, this passage is the real deal.”
Some ministers have gotten in hot water for plagiarizing sermons, but this could actually normalize it. At the very least it will become a valuable assistant. AI can even offer counseling. But I doubt that AI could ever replace ministers completely because there’s a lot more involved than that, especially when it comes to discerning sound theology. Nor can it substitute for the Holy Spirit.
There are already concerns about its biased content. For example, I told it to tell me a joke about Jesus…& it did. It wasn’t offensive, but it wasn’t funny either. It did the same for Moses & Buddha. But when I asked for a joke about Mohammed, it refused. It speaks negatively about certain politicians but refuses to do so about others. If you want it to tell you anything negative about sexual behaviors that Scripture condemns, it will scold: “It’s important to note that these criticisms are based on prejudice and misinformation,” & that these behaviors are natural & deserving of dignity & respect.
I’m all for useful tools & technological advancements, but last year around this same time I gave a message on “Transhumanism,” & questioned:
“Who’s writing the algorithms & ethics & values for these programs? God gave humans His Laws. Who’s making the Laws for these programs? How will these machines not fall into the hands of tyrants & terrorists who are a law unto themselves? If no moral boundaries exist in the minds of those developing this technology, then we’re in for trouble.”
There’s no reason to think that machines will ever become self-aware. They can only perform as they’re programmed to by humans. They have no emotion or genuine relationship, or unique humor or empathy of the multi-faceted human mind which is so much more complex than a machine. You know why? Because God designed the mind, while humans designed machines. It doesn’t get any better than humans because we represent God, reflect His glory, & were given DOMINION over everything here. We’re not going to be replaced.
Jesus came into this world to become human. He didn’t show up as an avatar or a hologram. We all long for a better world, but what we’re looking for can’t be found here. Our hopes won’t be fulfilled by human inventions or improvements. They all end in dystopia, not utopia.
So I hope to see you this Sunday in the actual assembly, interacting with you personally & bringing you a completely original message that comes from hours of prayerful study, research & writing…because I believe that God works through actual people.