What happens when you ask an AI like ChatGPT how it can possibly pose a threat to the Catholic faith? I tried to ask two AIs and their answers were both interesting and alarming.
“What are the Ways AIs Can Threaten the Catholic Faith?”
As an AI language model, it is not within my programming to take a position that AI can threaten any religion, including the Catholic faith. The Catholic faith is based on belief in God and the teachings of the Church. While AI can be programmed to perform tasks and make decisions, it does not have the capability to affect the Catholic faith or any other religion. It is important to remember that AI is a tool created by humans and can only operate within the parameters set by humans. As such, it is up to individuals to maintain their faith and beliefs, regardless of technological advancements.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to pose a significant threat to the Catholic faith. AI can be used to spread false information, propagate fake news, and spread false ideologies that can contradict Catholic teachings. AI can also be used to manipulate people’s beliefs and opinions, which can lead to people straying from the Catholic faith. Additionally, AI can be used to create autonomous bots that can be used to spread malicious content and target vulnerable individuals. Finally, AI can be used to create smart algorithms that can be used to target and manipulate vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and those with mental health issues, in order to further propagate false information and ideologies.
Analyzing the Answers
YouChat’s answers are very detailed. They paint a virtual apocalyptic scenario where AIs dominate and openly pose a threat to Catholic beliefs.
On the other hand, ChatGPT’s answers are a little vague. However, they remind us of one important factor that will always be the key to using AI: it is a tool created and controlled by human beings. As such, it can be just as susceptible to bias as any person could.
From this perspective, ChatGPT’s response that AIs have no capability to affect the Catholic faith or any religion is wrong.
Potential AI Threats to the Catholic Faith
As the use of AIs become more prevalent in our society, their potential to pose certain threats against religion and the Catholic faith in particular also increases.
Here are some of the ways AIs can pose a threat to the Catholic faith:
1. False Information
Even as of the time of writing this article, ChatGPT puts a disclaimer saying it may “occasionally generate incorrect information”. As such, it can provide answers about the Catholic faith that are wrong or in direct contrast to Catholic beliefs.
However, I think the real danger here will come in the near future when the use of AIs has become more common. When that time comes, people may no longer read the disclaimers and waivers that come along with the use of AIs. Thinking that AI answers have become more reliable, people could easily believe just about everything that an AI writes.
Being built, maintained and controlled by humans, an AI is still subject to the human vulnerability of having biases and prejudices.
The people who control the programs and algorithms related to AI functioning may manipulate them in such a way as to favor one religion over another. It can also presume that all religions are wrong and belief in the spiritual reality of life cannot be supported by any logical proof.
3. Secular Influence
Even without intentional manipulation, an AI like ChatGPT can serve as a mirror that reflects only the opinions and conclusions that are most prevalent in recent times.
Instead of seeking the truth based on logical processes, an AI may learn from other sources such as statistics, trends and the statement of influencers.
What weight will an AI give to the thoughts and ideas it gathers versus the logic that must be found in those thoughts? What value will it give to the arguments given by St. Thomas in his extensive Summa Theologica versus the statements given by various experts in spirituality today?
4. Effect on Children and Education
Children who could now use the internet seem to be getting younger and younger. Because of this, they can be easily influenced by the information that they get online.
If AIs such as ChatGPT become the norm for searching for information online, then a child’s interaction with AIs would most likely be a part of one’s education very early on in life.
With an improved ability to talk more like a human, young ones may trust all their answers and believe them to be accurate at once.
The Call for AI Ethics
In light of the risks AIs can pose to religious beliefs, the Pontifical Academy for Life endorsed a document called “Rome Call for AI Ethics”.
In this document, 6 principles were cited for the ethical use of AIs:
1. Transparency: in principle, AI systems must be explainable.
2. Inclusion: the needs of all human beings must be taken into consideration so that everyone can benefit and all individuals can be offered the best possible conditions to express themselves and develop.
3. Responsibility: those who design and deploy the use of AI must proceed with responsibility and transparency.
4. Impartiality: do not create or act according to bias, thus safeguarding fairness and human dignity.
5. Reliability: AI systems must be able to work reliably.
6. Security and privacy: AI systems must work securely and respect the privacy of users.
Mitigating the Risks of Technological Progress
We can no longer ignore the tremendous advancements in artificial intelligence. Its effects are already present in various areas of our lives. Whether it’s work, education, health, entertainment or religion, AIs will sooner or later become a part of our daily activities and interactions.
What will this mean for us and for our children? While this could mean faster transactions and more convenient lives, we should never overlook its effect on our moral and spiritual beliefs.
As AIs like ChatGPT become more widespread, we must be ever watchful of the data that they process, the information they give, and the influence they make upon our thoughts. This is even more vital for the sake of our children and the kind of education that they will receive.
Let us take every possible measure to protect the treasures of our faith. Before this world becomes godless, let us pass on to others the reason for our hope and the eternal truths that can only be found in God.
“Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness.” – Ephesians 6:14 (NRSVCE)
You may also want to read “How Do You Live as a Catholic in a Godless World?”
Jocelyn Soriano is the author of the book Defending My Catholic Faith. “You and I have been called to live at this very hour.” Do you have questions or doubts about the Catholic faith?