“Don’t live the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right. His plan is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 NIRV)
“ChatGPT? What’s That???
Our culture has embraced AI (Artificial Intelligence) and its ability to interact with us, through Alexa, Siri, and other voice-activated “assistants”. But chatbots are quickly becoming “yesterday’s news”!
“A chatbot or chatterbot is a software application used to conduct an online chat conversation via text or text-to-speech, in lieu of providing direct contact with a live human agent. Chatbots are computer programs that are capable of maintaining a conversation with a user in natural language, understanding their intent, and replying based on preset rules and data.” (en.wikipedia.org) For example, call any corporation nowadays and the interactive menu-driven conversation will most likely be with a chatbot.
“With the continued development of chatbots grabbing headlines and showcasing a plethora of fantastic capabilities, current AI tools may be headed for rapid obsolescence. Evolved AI tools are now capable of creating award-winning pieces of art or potentially serving as augmentation within highly technical career fields.” (www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/the-end-of-the-road-for-alexa-and-siri-here-s-why-some-experts-say-ai-will-make-them-obsolete/ar-AA194FNS)
The newest iteration of AI is ChatGPT. This peculiar name describes what it can do to create a document or book or even art, poetry, or songs. The GPT stands for ‘Generative Pre-trained Transformer,’ which refers to how ChatGPT processes requests and formulates responses.
“Open AI CEO Sam Altman, the company behind ChatGPT, admitted earlier this month that he was even ‘a little bit scared’ of the powerful technology his company is developing… ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot whose core function is to mimic a human in conversation. Users across the world have used ChatGPT to write emails, debug computer programs, answer homework questions, play games, write stories and song lyrics, and much more.” (“ChatGPT: Who and what is behind the artificial intelligence tool changing the tech landscape?”, FOX Business, March 27, 2023)
This is not the science fiction of decades past but the reality of today! Of course, we recognize that technology advances can be life-changing, such as 3D printed medical devices that include assistance with proper surgical placement during operations, implants such as cranial plates or hip joints, and external prostheses, such as hands and other body parts. Examples of AI’s positive roles include cancer detection, the monitoring of agriculture and food production, and even a free mobile app that helps deaf children learn to read by translating the text into sign language.
All good, right? But as with all tools, technology can be utilized for honorable or dishonorable purposes. “Since its launch in November 2022, the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT has caused significant waves in education. The bot can imitate human-level speech and writing uncannily well, causing many educators to question how essay-based learning can continue when students have access to such a free and easy shortcut. In fact, there have already been cases of college students caught cheating by using the tool.” (“Nearly 1 in 3 College Students Have Used ChatGPT on Written Assignments”, January 23, 2023, http://www.intelligent.com)
“AI programs such as ChatGPT, however, compile information differently. Programmers ‘train’ an algorithm to distinguish between real-world categories, including the contextual usage of words on the internet. The algorithm is able to ‘learn’ what those words mean and then use them more appropriately when given a prompt. The result is something that speaks with the collective knowledge of the internet. This means that what the program produces can be somewhere between constructive and misleading and, depending on what it is asked, between beneficial and hilarious.” (www.BreakPoint.org, March 1, 2023)
Just as the U.S.S. Enterprise carried Captain Kirk and his crew to explore strange new worlds and boldly go where no one has gone before, ChatGPT and other iterations of evolved AI will carry us forward. Be aware, be thoughtful, and attempt to be prepared for where we may be going.
What are the long-range consequences of ChatGPT? We are only beginning to get an idea of how this new AI software will impact communication and integrity in the marketplace.
As with all cultural changes, it’s important to be aware of how each will affect our lives, values, and personal choices.
It’s vital as Christians to recognize that our heavenly Father is greater than any technology man can develop. Only God can create and originate things from nothing. God spoke and His authority created the heavens and the earth. Mankind can emulate and imitate, which are forms of worship and a longing to be all-knowing as God is. Our knowledge, however, is limited; God’s is unlimited!
So how can we help teens become media-savvy about the culture that surrounds them?
Staying informed about new types and uses of technology allows us to discuss possible future scenarios with teens. Young people today breezily accept the role of technology and move rapidly from one innovation to another often without reflecting on possible long-range concerns or controversies. Use these discussion starters to involve teens in ethical considerations about technology that exists now and that which will be developed in the future.
• Ask, “What innovations in the past 5-10 years do you think have had the most dramatic impact on our culture?”
• Ask, “Technology can be utilized for good or for harm. What kind of possibilities exist for detrimental uses of high tech advancements?”
• Share, “Artificial Intelligence is called AI. There are numerous ways computerized programs use AI for our good. Do you know of any?”
• Ask, “Siri and Alexa are common examples of chatbots in our daily lives. How do you use these?”
• Share, “ChatGPT is a new type of AI that can create articles, essays, and even poetry, songs, and photographs, harvesting information and images found on the internet. What do you think about this new technology? Can you imagine ways you could use it in your life?”
• Share Romans 12:2: “Don’t live the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right. His plan is good and pleasing and perfect.” Ask, “How could this scripture guide you in your decisions about using technology?”
• Share Isaiah 55:8-9: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways’,declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth,so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” Ask, “Why is it important as Christians to remember this concept as you live each day?”
• Ask, “Do you believe that the ways of the world are always acceptable? Is it possible to live ‘in the world, but not of the world’ as Jesus did?”
Note: Share this blog with your church’s youth pastor as a lesson for youth group gatherings.
Sue Summers is a Christian media analyst, teacher, author, and speaker.
She is the Director of Media Alert!
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