April 13, 2023
Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is a topic that has captured the attention of many people in recent years. As for myself, I am incredibly curious about the potential that AI holds and its impact on our world. It's amazing to think about how AI is already integrated into many aspects of our lives, from the personal assistants on our smartphones to the algorithms that power online shopping recommendations. In this post, I'll be sharing my personal journey of fascination with AI and exploring the exciting possibilities that lie ahead.
Generative AI is an advanced technology that utilizes algorithms and deep learning models to produce original content. The process involves analyzing and learning from existing data, and subsequently generating output that is distinct and innovative. This form of AI is akin to having a sophisticated creative assistant, capable of producing unique pictures, music, and literature.
So why am I interested in this?
First of all, the practical applications are absolutely staggering, including possible advances in medical technology that I am incapable of even conceptualizing. It has the potential to take care of everything from scheduling our calendars, to organizing and planning events, to produce content to use in things like (to choose a random example) blogs written by pastors. The first two paragraphs of this were written by the artificial intelligence program ChatGPT. I told it to write an introduction to a blog post about AI and then an explanation of what AI is, and that’s what you read up top.
Second of all, the possibility of abuse is terrifying. Rather than explaining why myself, I asked ChatGPT about the risks and it told me:
Generative AI has many potential benefits, such as creating art, music, and literature. However, there are also some risks associated with this technology.
One significant risk is that generative AI can be used to create fake content or manipulate information. For example, it could be used to generate realistic but entirely fabricated videos or images, which could be used for propaganda or to deceive people. This could be especially problematic in the context of politics or international relations.
Another risk is that generative AI could be used to create highly convincing phishing emails or other types of cyberattacks. As the technology becomes more advanced, it may become increasingly difficult to distinguish between real and fake content, making it easier for cybercriminals to trick people into giving away sensitive information.
There are also concerns about the potential impact of generative AI on the job market. As machines become better at creating content, they may eventually be able to replace human workers in certain fields, such as writing or design.
Finally, there are ethical concerns around the use of generative AI, such as issues of ownership and copyright. As the technology becomes more prevalent, it will be important to establish clear rules around who owns the content generated by these machines and how it can be used.
Finally, this technology creates some very interesting implications on what it means to be human and how we might end up accidentally blurring the lines between human and machine. In conversation with a friend, we discussed the possibility that there could be a company that uses AI to analyze photos, videos, voice recordings, and writings of an individual over the course of their life. Using that data, a sufficiently advanced AI program (that I don’t think is really that far off) could create a version of that individual that would be a reasonable version of how they would act. What does that mean? What would it mean to you if you were able to capture all of those things about someone you loved who had died? Is it ethical to create a version of a departed loved one, or is that a violation of that person? What does it mean for the process of grief if we can convince ourselves that our loved ones could still live on, albeit in a different form?
Like I said, the implications are quite staggering. I’ll be talking more about this in the next few weeks in this space. In the meantime, I want to leave you with a poem. I wrote in the ChatGPT program, “write a 200 word rhyming story about a pastor who preached a sermon so long that the entire congregation fell asleep” and here’s what it created:
There once was a pastor so wise,
Whose sermons would fill up the skies.
But one day he preached for so long,
The congregation slept, all along.
He spoke of the angels on high,
Of heaven, where souls never die.
He spoke of the virtues of love,
And the blessings from up above.
But as he went on and on,
The congregation started to yawn.
Their eyelids grew heavy and drooped,
As their breathing grew soft and looped.
The pastor was unaware,
That his words were too much to bear.
For hours he preached with great zeal,
Not noticing how they all feel.
As he finished his final phrase,
He saw the entire church in a daze.
They all had fallen asleep,
Their snores echoed, so loud and deep.
The pastor felt quite ashamed,
And knew he was to be blamed.
He vowed to keep his sermons brief,
So his congregation wouldn't fall asleep.
And from that day on, he did try,
To speak for just an hour, not nigh.
And the congregation, they were pleased,
As they listened with alertness and ease.
Thanks for indulging me in this strange new frontier…
Twelve Corners Presbyterian Church is located at 1200 S. Winton Road in Brighton, NY. We welcome you to join us for worship on Sunday mornings at 10:00 a.m. in the sanctuary (and via YouTube). If you have any questions, please contact us by calling 585-244-8585 or sending an email through our secure contact page.