It has been talked about for years now, arousing reflections and more or less optimistic or apocalyptic images. Films like Blade Runner and the Matrix have marked the imagination of several generations, fueling a not exactly positive reading of the horizons towards which artificial intelligence could have taken us. Man and machine merge almost to make it impossible to recognize one and the other. At the end of it all, in Matrixit becomes clear what saves the man in front of the machine: they are freedom of choice and the ability to love.
Today artificial intelligence (AI) has come more and more into our hands. ChatGpt is a simple app on our mobile and opens up a world of infinite possibilities for us. I tried, for example, to ask her to write this editorial by World and Mission. You didn’t produce senseless things: the themes were quite focused, but treated in an elementary way and without “heart”. Perhaps we will also come to give a “soul” to these machines, perhaps we have already succeeded given that with AI poetry is written and works of art are created, but that is not enough, because the human heart is capable of loving and to choose freely as he is educated to do so. But this can only be done when there is a thought, a culture that is transmitted, that “shapes” and gives shape.
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia speaks to us, in this issue, of the need for a moral code, of an ethic that defines the limits of action of AI. But perhaps something more should be done. As Christians and missionaries we should say that AI must be “evangelised”. If we are dealing with “thinking” machines, Christian thought and the culture that our long tradition brings with it also need to be placed at their disposal. The Gospel will have to be part of the pool of data and information from which AI draws to write, think and decide.
A new space is opening up, a new square, a new areopagus. Just as we have decided to inhabit the internet with our culture, our history and our message, in the same way we will have to inhabit this new reality. We should not fear it or stigmatize it as a demonic tool, as we are sometimes tempted to do. We’ll have to stay in it because man and machine are now one, but it’s up to us Christians to remind the world that we are created in the image and likeness of God. We, not the machines. The challenge is already open, let’s take it up and stay within this new reality as Christians, convinced that Christ has something to say here too, because everything that pertains to the human belongs to him.