Concerns Among Christians: Tech Raises Skepticism Over AI

(USNewsMag.com) – A recent survey made an interesting discovery: American Christians have a higher chance of being skeptical of artificial intelligence (AI) systems and are especially concerned about using the technology for church services.

According to a new Barna survey conducted this fall through a consumer research panel, more than a fourth of Christians in the US said they were hopeful about the development of AI, while 39% of those who identified as non-Christians gave the same response. As to whether “AI is good for the Christian Church,” only a small fraction (22%) agreed. Around 21% somewhat disagreed that AI would benefit the church, and 30% of respondents who identified as Christians strongly disagreed.

Despite the general hesitation among Christians about AI systems, churches around the world are still experimenting with incorporating tools like ChatGPT into their congregations.

Back in September, one Methodist pastor from Austin, Texas, made an entire service using the AI chatbot to see if it could be done. Although the experiment launched important discussions about AI, the Violet Crown City Church pastor wasn’t satisfied with the results and found something was missing from the AI sermon.

Cooper said that while preaching, he “became less and less comfortable” and that even though “some interesting points” came out of the AI program, it was missing “the human element.” Cooper said he knew the sermon “was not from my own mind or heart” and that without this element, it did not feel “worshipful” to him.

Others are encouraging church leaders to embrace AI, such as Kenny Jahng, editor-in-chief of ChurchTechToday.com and the founder of AIForChurchLeaders.com. He believes AI “is here to serve” humanity rather than “the other way around.” Jahng believes concerns that AI will take over the world are unfounded and that “there are things” the new technology “is really good for.”

AI systems are growing rapidly, raising international conversations about the risks of advancing such technology without some kind of failsafe. The Future of Life Institute published an open letter back in March that raised such concerns and called for a temporary pause in developing AI until guidelines and controls can be developed to keep it in check. The letter was signed by many tech developers and leaders, including Elon Musk.

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