I can’t agree that “Technology is the thing that makes us us,” as Reid Hoffman put it. Yes, it may play a key role in how we develop and acquire knowledge, wisdom, or different types of intelligence, but technology does not (and frankly, should not) hold that kind of power over our identity. Someone last semester in elit mentioned the idea that creation is supposed to submit to its creator– I’d completely agree with that statement, though not without acknowledging that this is not always the case. We’re seeing this with AI developing so fast that it might surpass the intellect of the humans that created it and deviate from its original design, and we’ve seen this before with humanity as a whole deviating from its original design: to live in communion and submission to God. So just as it is not we as humans who define God, we are made in His image in such a way that we also are not defined by the things we create or do. The things we create, such as AI, reflect a piece of our humanity– the difference between the two is so important to realize.
This may seem completely unrelated, but I promise this has something to do with that point still: I’ve placed my identity in a lot of what I’ve put out into the world, what I’ve been able to do for people (including myself), or even in who I am by itself without any sort of foundation– “my truth,” if you will. The reason I say that saying technology or AI somehow defines who we are or what humanity is so dangerous is because making the foundation of who I am what I could make, do, or be was actually so detrimental to my overall health and existence. I mentioned something in my last post about Ecclesiastes 1:9, and this is exactly what is happening here. When humanity’s identity is in anything but its creator, it never ends well. Ever notice how in Genesis Adam doesn’t give Eve her name until after the fall? Yea, a solid foundation for identity is important– submission to the purpose that identity holds is just as important.
That said, it is still something that brings light to what humanity really means. Like I said, the things we create are still reflections of humanity. Hoffman does mention this, though it seemed as if he saw that reflection as the real thing– the actual, legitimate, tangible display of humanity. But also like I mentioned and I’m sure we’ve all noticed at some points in life, humanity is pretty fallen and depraved. Technology doesn’t always work the way we want it to because it reflects that– AI is likely to develop and do exactly that. Example A:
Again, Hoffman acknowledges this as well in his article. What I found to be an interesting statement was this: “Nor would I ever suggest that technologies are neutral, equally capable of being used for good or bad.” I was really going to say that technology itself can be neutral, but I hesitate to even say that a human being can be truly neutral. As this entire post I’ve been harping on about how it reflects our human nature rather than replacing or defining it.
And I know a lot of what I’ve said thus far about the nature of our humanity that technology reflects is negative, but I want to take a moment to actually talk about the goodness of humanity too. Hoffman vocalizes some good and important propositions for which technology, including AI, can be used. Humanity was created and the only thing God created and said was very good. As we are created and seen as a masterpiece by God, we could also say the same of what we create. As God can still use some of the worst people for good, we can still use these potentially bad things for so much good. In many ways it goes back to intention.
So there is some hope for AI being more of a tool than a weapon, as there’s been hope for humanity from the beginning. There are ways to use it to help people. There are better ways to implement it than we’ve seen with things like Chat GPT coming out before software to help detect AI writing has been equally developed.