The Important New Book Helping Christians Make Sense of AI

In his book, Driscoll has given us the beginnings of AI literacy: a framework and principles through which to think about AI Biblically. If AI is confusing or scary to you, then this book will give you the perspective not only to understand AI, but to see it through a Biblical lens: a lens that says AI is good, but fallen. It is made in our fallen image, and will not bring heaven to earth, even as we can and should use it for good things.

Few things keep me awake at night like Artificial Intelligence.

No, I’m not worried about Terminator-like robots taking over our world (at least not yet). But I am worried about the disruption AI will bring to every area of our lives – and very, very soon.

According to the CEO of AI company Anthropic, Dario Amodei, AI technology is accelerating faster than anyone imagined. He says it’s accelerating at an exponential rate. How could we even hope to keep up with a technology that’s advancing so fast – faster than any technology in human history? And what disruption might that bring?

To further fan this picture of the AI revolution, former OpenAI researcher and genius Leopold Aschenbrenner released a 150-page essay that has been making waves in the AI community, and no doubt among many governments. He writes:

The AGI [i.e. Skynet level intelligence] race has begun. We are building machines that can think and reason. By 2025/26, these machines will outpace college graduates. By the end of the decade, they will be smarter than you or I; we will have superintelligence, in the true sense of the word. Along the way, national security forces not seen in half a century will be unleashed…If we’re lucky, we’ll be in an all-out race with the CCP; if we’re unlucky, an all-out war.’

Superintelligent ‘Skynet ’-level AI by the end of the decade, leading to possible war?

If those words don’t keep you up at night, I don’t know what will. 

Of course, it’s not all bad news: researchers have published a new study detailing the use of AI to predict close to one million new antibiotics hidden within tiny microbes all over the world, uncovering new potential treatments against bacteria and superbugs. One entrepreneur I know is using AI to help teachers do their job better. And AI will open new industries we can only begin to imagine.

Either way, after much thought and research I’m convinced that what this cultural and historical moment needs are people who have ‘AI literacy’ – coupled with Biblical literacy – and an understanding of how the two relate. We need people who can think Christianly about what AI is, how we should approach it, and the sorts of ethical issues we need to discuss – if we’re to use AI wisely instead of being used and misused by AI.

To help fill that urgent need, Australian pastor and author Stephen Driscoll has written a masterful new book about AI, Made in Our Image – God, Artificial Intelligence and You. Driscoll aims to give Christians a grounding of AI in the unchanging principles of the Bible and allow that to shape our understanding of AI.

And he does an excellent job.

The Shape of the Book

Like increasing numbers of us, Driscoll believes that AI is a technology that matters and will last. It won’t be gone in a few years but will be transformative: ‘more like the wheel than the typewriter’.[1] And so, Driscoll begins by outlining his aim: he’s not into making hard and fast predictions about how AI will change our lives (although he does make a few sobering predictions), but rather his goal is twofold:

First, to make AI understandable – which is no small feat considering how new and intricate it is. Large Language Models, Machine Learning, Neural Networks – he explains all this in a way that would make sense to your great-aunt (chapter 2).

But his second and more important goal is to ‘figure out how the Bible might speak into our topic’ so that we have ‘a clear sense of what matters to us, and our place in God’s world, so we can make sense of the future. We won’t be able to predict the future in exact detail, so we need to know what matters most’. [2]  The unchanging principles of the Bible will help us navigate the changing space of AI.

He applies the Bible by exploring what the Bible has to say at its key turning points: Creation, Sin, The Cross of Jesus, and the New Creation (chapters 3-6 respectively).  

What is Artificial Intelligence?

In Chapter 2, Driscoll explains Artificial Intelligence. The big difference between your run-of-the-mill computer programs and AI, is AI’s ability to learn and be creative.[3] They’re not just ‘programmable calculators’, but are good at ‘the very things – creativity, intuition, pattern recognition, strategic thinking – that are some of our greatest [human] strengths.’[4]

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