There is a recent popular rise of AI-powered interactive “chat,” — ie ChatGPT, etc. — to assist us in formulating our thoughts and putting them into better-constructed sentences and grammatical structures. Many social media influencers, including ones from the Catholic circle, have advocated for this trending technology. They argued that we can train the system to better understand our human thoughts, hence creating a better and more effective tool to assist us to construct more intelligent and professional writings that better express our thoughts.
As a student of philosophy and theology, I really have many personal, professional, and theological reservations and worries about this matter. We might go down a very slippery slope of ultimately losing control of the very thing we created and making ourselves dumber for the sake of convenience. Perhaps we have made ourselves lazier and unnecessary for the future workforce when we train artificial intelligence to be smarter and able to replicate our usefulness. It scares me when people no longer are willing to do the hard work to think for themselves, search for the truth, and willingly embrace some limitations for the greater good. It is unfortunate when we trade our very own search for truth and unique ways to express our very own thoughts and creative power for the sake of having something do for us so that things would look “better” and more “professional” on the outside. The laziness in thought is also a reflection of the spiritual laziness to go beyond ourselves, be humble, and be willing to make sacrifices for the greatest good.
I like to write as a way to reflect upon the matters of life and faith. I like to write even though I am not a perfect writer and still make a lot of grammatical mistakes, especially since English is my second language. However, I love to go back to my past writings to read and see how my writing style has changed over the years. I think I have grown over the years, and I love to read and rediscover my past mistakes, too… they allow me to go back and see my thought patterns and quirks. All those imperfections are, in my humble opinion, my own personal traits and qualities that remind me of who I am — made in His image and likeness. When we use an AI-powered tool to assist us in writing, it takes generically steals away that very personal uniqueness and all its quirkiness, for our words and actions (no matter how imperfect they might be) are that very manifestation and reflection of who we are deep from within. We are uniquely made, and there is no one else like us, so even our shortcomings and imperfections are wonderful reminders of that very humanity.
Perhaps our society has lost its desire to search for the greatest good in its cheapened, immediate, shallow, and gratifying principles of utilitarianism. We have perhaps allowed ourselves to be cheapened and be treated as objects of desire, just one good among many. Perhaps we have given up and allowed ourselves to be objectified by the cheap and immediate gratification as we get used in the hope of using others in the relentless rat race of apparent vanities. I think many of us have lost our very own understanding of who we are — our identity, self-worth, mission, and purpose — created in the image and likeness of God to be good stewards of this world. Too many have allowed themselves to be fixated on the things of this world instead of remembering their vocation as Christians to lift this world up and make it a better place that reflects His loving truth. I think our world has become too secularized too fast, chasing after its own bottomless search for vanity, that it has lost its transcendental and eternal focus. In short, too many of us have allowed ourselves to become objects of utilization, yearning to be loved and accepted by how “useful” we want to be, toward the point that we no longer have issues of making artificial objects that make us become “better” and appealing in the vain and hopeless rat race.
Our intellect and its creative power are the greatest gifts that God has given and endowed to us, made in His image and likeness. We have invented many wonderful things from that very creativity. Nonetheless, this power must also remind us of who we are, especially our true goal and purpose in life. Our intellect and the result of that creative power have to be in alignment with the truth, especially in forming our human and social laws to reflect and adhere to divine and eternal laws. Therefore, we will soon lose our focus and puts ourselves in a lot of danger when we dismiss that very intellectual ability and responsibility. We will create things as well as abuse our freedom that will jeopardize our future well-being for the sake of doing whatever we want now. We might think that we are in control, but the things that we create, especially the AI that we train to be smarter each day might one day have a mind of its own. All it takes is to have a person or group who is able to manipulate, abuse, and unleash the kill-safe limit before we lose control over something we have “taught” and enabled to become smarter each day.
No matter how imperfect our thought patterns and grammatical syntax might be, the very words and actions that come from us are the very extension of who we are deep from within. We are able to beautifully express our inner thoughts and personal creativity through our very own writing styles and unique ways to express matters. Even though an AI-powered system can write better papers and put into perfect grammatical syntax our general thoughts, it can never replace the personal and creative power that can only be uniquely expressed through our own quirkiness and style.
(Without spoiling much of the plot) In the CW series, The 100, the cause of the earth’s destruction was caused by the very own artificial intelligence, A.L.I.E., that was made in order to give scientific, non-biased, and calculated decisions on important matters. Perhaps it did its job so well that it ultimately decided to end the conflict and race for power amongst earth’s superpowers by (nuclearly) leveling the warring field. Other science fiction movies and series tend to have similar contexts, too, when humanity chooses to empower and train AI to become better. It is all nice and good in the beginning, but we have somehow lost control somewhere along the way, and the very thing that we have created for good ends up turning against us or we have lost control over it.
St. Pope John Paul II wrote a marvelous encyclical titled, “Fides et Ratio,” on the need for the balance of faith and reason. In his words, they are the two wings that lift us up — heart and soul, mind and body — to the Lord and His teachings. Why? Faith without reason is incomplete and prone to fanaticism. Reason without faith is hopeless and futile. Our faith keeps our reason in check so that we do not think that we are somehow creators of our own selves. It reminds us that it is OK to say no to making ourselves gods because every NO in a loving relationship is a greater yes! When we understand this very fact, our intellect becomes enriched, because faith does not cripple reason but aids it in the search for real beauty, truth, and matters that are eternal and everlasting.
We are created in the image and likeness of God, endowed with the intellect and free will to seek, know, understand, and love the truth. Reason was given to help us discern what is right and just, but it cannot just stop with us. We have to remember where we come from, who created us, and what we are meant to be! Before we were formed in our mother’s womb, the Lord willed and loved us into being. Therefore, we are reminded that we belong, as well as our beginning and end, with Him.
Once we know our purpose, we understand our vocation and identity, hence able to understand, reflect, pray, discern, and make decisions based on both faith and reason that are good, in alignment with the truth, salvation history, the Church‘s teachings, and wonderful examples from the lives of the saints. Therefore, when we know who we are and what we are called to be in the faith, we allow that faith to be integrated, enlivened, actively be the center of our rational, intellectual, human, and holistic exchanges of words and actions, choices, thoughts, interactions, and life itself. We speak, share, and lift our hearts up to the life that is given to us by God so we can make right, proper, just, equitable, and loving choices for the greater good and salvation of all.
Yes, we have the power to create means and tools that assist us. Yes, have the power to be creative and have things that can be helpful for society and the good of humanity. However, we must know our limits, too, because we are called to be stewards and protectors of this world and not to play God with our own feeble powers. We must not lose our focus on transcendental matters and eternal destiny. May we use our creativity to reflect His goodness and love with our very own genuine words and actions. May we not forget our personal and communal responsibilities to radiate and make known His loving truth by how we pray, worship, and live our life of faith so His everlasting beauty and truth can be manifested and seen in the little things that we do.
Every time we use our faith and reason, we learn to reflect and discern all things through the lenses of intellect and belief as we try to understand all things through the original purpose, meaning, mission, and vocation given to us by the Creator. The greatest virtue in the life of faith and search for knowledge is, therefore, humility. When we are humble, we are able to learn without being puffed up, know without being arrogant, comprehend without thinking that we know it all, and especially be fine with not having everything our way or being in control of all matters. When we are humble, we are able to see how much our intellect can enrich and expand our understanding in the grand scheme of God‘s beautiful and loving creation, hence being able to be moved and filled with wonder and awe because of that essential childlike faith instead of the egocentric childish selfishness. What can faith offer us? Many things that we cannot see, touch, taste, hear, sense, or grasp with quantifiable understanding and limitations. What can intellect offer us? Many things, too, as to know that we are made in the image and likeness of God, endowed with reason and the desire to understand greater and beautiful things, especially things that are transcendental, eternal, and everlasting from the very own heart of God who has created all and endows us His very own love.