Introduction: What is AI?
Artificial intelligence, or simply AI, is the intelligence exhibited by machines or software. There are many misconceptions about AI, such as that it is sentient and self-aware and that it will inevitably destroy society. Contrary to these misconceptions, artificial intelligence merely attempts to simulate human intelligence using computers. It does not replicate or compete with it. AI research has influenced the way we think about intelligence and led to new discoveries in computer science. Some of these discoveries have allowed machines to spot patterns in data, work out logical solutions, solve difficult problems, learn new tasks without human instruction and communicate with each other.
AI has a bigger role in our lives than we think. We interact with AI systems every day, just not usually under that name. AI is used to target ads on the Internet, to decide what news stories get the most attention and to filter spam. It is used in banking, medicine and many other aspects of our society. The purpose of this page is not only to give you an introduction into AI but also to dispell many common misconceptions about it. I will define the field, give a timeline of its development, discuss whether it has already affected your life and finally what the future of AI looks like.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
The Church’s Role in a World of AI
The Roman Catholic Church is at a critical point in its long history. In recent centuries, it has gone from being the unquestioned moral authority to a position of questioning its relevance in the modern world. Such a drastic change does not happen overnight and was caused by the twin forces of secularism and liberalism. The Church has responded by attempting to be relevant again, or to go back to its original intended purpose as the Church of Christ, which it has been for 2000 years. To many people, this means that the Catholic Church needs to return to its medieval roots in order for it to be relevant again. However, they forget that while the medieval era was a simpler time, it was also an intellectual and technological golden age. The Church at that time had control over education, could stop books from being printed if they were considered heretical and had the power to wage war against those who oppose them. The Church also has the power to influence the way people think and feel, which was a dominating change at that time as well.
The Church is at a similar philosophical crossroads as to what it should be. The Catholic Church will have to decide whether it should stay true to its original teachings, or focus on being relevant again by adapting the values of the medieval era where the Church was in control of education, media and warfare. But it is the Church’s role in the modern world which will be decided by those who are most influential, and this includes the people of China, Japan and India.
The Church’s Mission in an AI-Filled Society
The Roman Catholic Church has always been one of the most powerful institutions in the world. If it continues to return to its medieval roots, it will be an institution that no one will want to oppose but will everyone want to follow. It is important for the Roman Catholic Church to maintain its relevance and ensure that it does not become just another conservative religious institution. However, this is not merely a question of relevance but also one of preaching the Gospel as St. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 9:16-19. In an age where artificial intelligence and robotics are advancing rapidly, it is important for the Church to harness the power of these technologies for its own needs and to focus on the 2030 vision of Pope Benedict XVI.
To understand the Roman Catholic response to artificial intelligence one must first understand Vatican II Council. Before the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the Church had a mission that was ephemeral but essential: to baptize people and spread Christianity throughout the world. Following Vatican II, the Church had a new mission that was equally important but with far greater scale: evangelization (Benedict XVI, 2004). The Church also needed a new strategy. The Church had previously had to focus on the deeper symbolic meaning of Christianity, which would transfer over to evangelization. However, following Vatican II, the Church realized that it needed new strategies to get its message out in modern times.
AI-Enabled Ministry Opportunities for the Church
One of the ways that the Church can maintain relevance is to take advantage of the new tools that artificial intelligence and robotics offer. The mission of the Church is to proclaim Christ and lead us to salvation. This is difficult to do in an age where information is willingly shared and where anyone with a smartphone can become their own news reporter. It is for this reason that the Church must take advantage of artificial intelligence and robotics to spread its message. The Church is a global institution and has an opportunity to spread its message to the farthest reaches of the world. Prophets have always faced adversity and obstacles when prophesying, but they have succeeded because God was with them (Amos 7:10-15). Similarly, AI should be with the Church in order to succeed in spreading the Gospel.
Fortunately, there is a way to utilize AI and robotics in this task. Automation has two functions: to free up resources so that their owners can do other things and to serve their owners. The Church is one of those places where resource and time are limited, and AI can help the Church meet its objectives so that it can preach the gospel more effectively.
Let’s look at four ways that AI can be used to help the Church.
1. Automate the Preaching of the Gospel
The Industry Has Already Been Transformed by AI and the Future Holds More Promise for the Church if It Has the Right Leaders for This Change
It is important to note that artificial intelligence has already transformed many industries and shows no signs of slowing down despite its detractors. AI has created more jobs than it has replaced, especially in the technology industry. There are at least three ways in which the Church can implement artificial intelligence into its ministry. First, it can use virtual reality to reach out to people across the globe. Every year, millions of Catholics travel to see and experience the places that are most important to the Church and its teachings. For example, there are millions of Catholics who have devoutly walked up the staircase of the Sistine Chapel to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece, “The Creation of Adam.” These people come from all over the world and have different backgrounds, beliefs and cultures. Such a diverse group can only be reached through a universal medium like virtual reality. Second, the Church can use AI to connect people with God and each other. Although the Church has a rich history of connecting people with God through pilgrimage and sacred art, many people have never been exposed to this aspect of the Church. In fact, a recent study found that only 12 percent of millennials identify as religious and only 36 percent have attended a religious service in the last six months. With this in mind, the Church must reach out to the people it may be missing by incorporating technology into its program. Finally, the Church can use AI to improve its administration and organization. The Catholic Church is not a small organization and it is critical that its leaders utilize technology so that they can focus on their ministry instead of wasting time on administrative tasks.