At the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches
Workshop Title: Humanity and Spirituality in the face of Fourth Industrial Revolution and Artificial SuperIntelligence”
All Industrial revolutions have begun with inequality followed by political and institutional changes. The Fourth Industrial Revolution(4IR) and the new Artificial Super intelligence (ASI)I technologies impact all disciplines – agriculture, industry, science, finance, information economies, wars, religion, spirituality and even challenge human faith in God. Human beings and machines are fused, and human progress is led by machines. Human beings could finally become the Human Creator,‘Homo Deus’. The issue we will face most seriously would be what it means to be human beings and human dignity. The socioeconomic, global political, and human spiritual situations are becoming out of control, even though the history of science and technology is progressing. The unjust economies, ecological destruction caused by unsustainable development trigger disparities in economies, widen the gap between the rich and poor leading to an ecological catastrophe. Will technology be able to turn all the chaotic situations into order again? These 4IR and ASI technologies need to be addressed as humans experience, engage, and relate. A critical review on the development of post-modern thought, transhumanism and posthumanism which are behind these technological developments is the need of the hour. There will be situations of conflicts between human beings and machines. As we embrace the era of 4IR and ASI, there will be no more place for Christ’s love to move, reconcile and unite between human beings and human beings, human beings and nature, and the Creator, this challenge requires a serious theological reflection.
Rev. Christopher Rajkumar, India / USA, Convener, Communications and Networking, OIKOTREE Global Movement – Facilitator
Dr. William Stanley, India, General Secretary, OIKOTREE Global Movement – Key Speaker
Rev. Suzanne Matele – Zambia, OIKOTRE Global Movement – Speaker
Prof. Onesmo Metei – Tanzania, OIKOTRE Global Movement – Speaker
Rev.Dr. Hwang Insung, South Korea, OIKOTRE Global Movement – Speaker
Organised by: OIKOTREE Global Movement in partnership with World Council of Churches, (WCC)World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) and Council of World Mission (CWM), FamilyCommunity Church Institute (FCCI) and Karibu Foundation.
31 Participants from 11 Countries participated in the workshop. Many of them shared their email IDs for future contact by the OIKOTREE Global Forum.
Affirmations and challenges:Affirmations:
- The church must have a say in the process of digitization so that it is more peoplefriendly.
- OIKOTREE Team further mentioned that despite the advantages of industrial revolution, not allcounties enjoy the benefits.
- Churches must make efforts to understand issues of IR and AI in order to have say in theprocess and ensure that AI is more people and planet friendly.
- The churches, the Christian communities along with other faithbased communities shouldaddress the negative impact of “Fourth Industrial Revolution and Artificial Intelligence (DigitalRevolution)
- The ecumenical family is yet to equally conduct a rigorous analysis and discussion on AI andML. This new technology within the context of the fourth phase industrial revolution is being developed and promoted to rapidly expand the economy of death. Can the ecumenical movement call for an AI and ML that promotes an economy of Life? This is a question that should preoccupy, theologians, Christians, government policy makers, scientists and researchers on AI and ML in the context of the Fourth Phase Industrial Revolution. Churchescould begin to debate on the impact of AI on the lives of the people and the Earth.
Will AI machines become super-intelligent, and will humans eventually lose control? While there is debate around how likely this scenario will be, we do know that there are always unforeseenconsequences when a new technology like AI is introduced. The AI revolution will hit faster and harder in all spheres of life. AI has the potential to create a better future for humankind, it requiresan understanding of the key challenges that the technology poses. While AI has the potential to create a more diverse and equitable future, it requires a commitment to address the issue of bias and an investment into the development of Ethical AI. When AI is used for decision-making, it is critical that humans understand why and how these decisions are made. And for AI to generate these explanations, the integration between symbolic models based on logical formalisms with non-symbolic learning systems needs to be improved. The transformative impact of AI on our society will have far-reaching economic, legal, political and regulatory implications that we need to be discussing and preparing for. Determining who is at fault if an autonomous vehicle hurts a pedestrian or how to manage a global autonomous arms race are just a couple of examples of thechallenges to be faced.
The corporatization of AI could reinforce power-centralization through the combination ofcorporations that monopolize modes of code and coder production that will disproportionatelyinfluence politics, military and science affairs. This will effectively generate a feudal network that minimizes political participation and representation, leading to disappearing democracy. This would entail the control of algorithm-building and maintaining structures that both state and private actors rely on, and the future economies.
The other trend in the popular mainstream is the idea that the AI will create a ‘fascist system’ -where the over-centralized AI based decision-making will create a hierarchy of repression in
which control-oriented, top-down practices will restrict expression, engagement, oversight andpolitical information-seeking behaviour.
Do these science and technological systems that are developed from the first to the fourth or fifth revolutions have solved the problems from hunger, poverty, starvation, unemployment, injustice topeople, the mother Earth and cosmos. No, we as people should counter through a meaningful intervention based on human values, respecting the nature that will give way for building a new society. It is the faith based organisations, civil society organisations and the people concernedshould play an active role in bringing the necessary changes in the
educational systems through advocacy, people’s movements and a committed collectiveleadership.
The education of society in the use of technology is key to forming critically conscious citizens who can decide the direction in the use of this technology. The future of humanity is a serious matter. If AI technologies really do contain the potential to radically transform life on Earth as we know it, then clearly it is worth spending a non-trivial amount of time in careful deliberation about how to research, develop, and use them.
Finally, the challenges of AI require a multidisciplinary work that involves technologists and expertsin social sciences:
- Rapid deployment of AI agents should be avoided
- A more gradual deployment would give humanity time to get used to “friendly” AI.
- Friendly AI could have a very positive benefit for society as a whole and for individuals.
- We should improve regulations on commercial giants who outpace governments.
- Companies should invest in Ethical AI.
- Public should educate themselves and demand responsible AI from the companies.
- Need to create an ecosystem for the development of Ethical AI.
AI technology has the opportunity to create a better society and a better future for all but we need tobe cautious that AI is not in the hands of destructive humans.