This year I turned our family vegetable-garden plots into pollinator gardens—in part because of the ease of caring for native flowering plants, but also as a small means of helping dwindling bee and butterfly populations. I care about those buzzy and beautiful creatures.
And apparently so does AI—or at least, so do the humans behind the multiple AI programs now contributing to the strategic monitoring of bee populations to support bee conservation.
“When we think of AI, we often think of its most public-facing applications: chatbots, facial-recognition software, and so on,” Kate Lucky, the writer of our cover story and CT’s senior editor of audience engagement, told me. But the fellow Silicon Valley Christians she interviewed “emphasized again and again that AI’s uses are so varied across industries—medical diagnosis, creation care, human resources, industrial manufacturing, and so on.”
While some applications of AI immediately raise ethical questions (even triggering anxiety about a Terminator-like dystopian future), others are tremendously beneficial, like AI-enhanced cancer screening, large-scale data analysis to combat world hunger, or wildlife-conservation
tools helping at-risk populations of whales, koalas, and, yes, bees.
“We need to equip believers for the many ways they will—and already are!—encountering AI at school, work, and home,” Lucky said. As AI becomes increasingly ubiquitous, the Christians in tech fields Lucky spoke with see this moment as a critical opportunity for churches to disciple their members on how faith provides a framework for interaction with AI by “teaching prudence, restraint, and wisdom.”
What might this prudence look like on a practical level? How can we steward AI tools well and navigate AI’s ethical complexities with wisdom? What does it look like to approach AI via the lens of theology or epistemology? Both Lucky and Bonnie Kristian (in her column in this issue) explore facets of this conversation in our current issue. In the coming months, we’ll explore additional questions and concerns catalyzed by this new era of artificial intelligence.
As I’ve sat writing this, I’ve watched multiple ruby-throated hummingbirds and various bees and wasps visit our pollinator gardens. They bring to mind Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 6: Consider the birds of the air, the flowers of the field. Our call in this new AI era, with all its uncertainty, is the same as it was 2,000 years ago: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.”
Kelli B. Trujillo is CT’s print managing editor.
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