Austrian theologian calls for AI education

20-05-2023

Central Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

Nass argues that people should be educated in research and technology about the human image and the understanding of values to prevent this gloomy future. Photo Dall-E

An Austrian pastor paints a dystopian picture of a world dominated by Artificial Intelligence (AI). He argues that people need training to be able to work with this new technology.

If people blindly trust AI when it comes to important decisions, such as religious issues or the current Ukraine conflict, this will open the door to a despotic regime where people are oppressed and brought into line. The Austrian theologian and ethicist Elmar Nass paints a dystopian picture in a conversation with various Austrian church magazines.

Nass argues that people should be educated in research and technology about the human image and the understanding of values to prevent this gloomy future. "Relying on ethics alone is not enough, however, because there can always be people who use and develop AI in order to have profit and power."

Although AI can already optimize work processes in technology and medicine, the danger lurks where responsibility for one's own actions is handed over to a robot or algorithm, Nass warns. "If you blindly trust only mathematically exact calculations, human dignity and morality no longer play a role and there is a risk that democratic discussions are no longer needed", warns Nass, who teaches at the Cologne University of Catholic Theology. Unlike the AI, humans have a soul and can have "honest human encounters," according to the Catholic priest.

Although Nass uses AI in his research, he raised doubts about the use of humanoid robots in care, arguing that they are "a machine-controlled torso" with no real empathy. The theologian believes that the use of AI in the chatbot "ChatGPT" for translations or idea-finding is more justifiable. Nonetheless, he insists that human intelligence is required to draw conclusions about the consequences of AI for theology and pastoral care.

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