Tech Talk: Using Artificial Intelligence to Spread the Gospel Message

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Tech Talk with Lisa Hendey/Son Rise Morning Show (CatholicMom.com)

On a recent episode of the Son Rise Morning Show, we discussed how artificial intelligence can be used to spread the Gospel message.

We recently heard the news about an IBM project involving a computer that has been programmed to debate.

  • Per NBC News, “IBM’s Project Debater made its public debut in San Francisco Monday afternoon, where it squared off against Noa Ovadia, the 2016 Israeli debate champion, and in a second debate against Dan Zafrir, a nationally renowned debater in Israel.”
  • The robot’s artificial intelligence was programmed on topics as well as in the art of debate.

For engaged Catholics, one topic that often comes up in conversation and even in informal “debates” is faith. How might artificial intelligence be employed effectively in evangelization?

  • While machines are certainly incapable of developing a conscience, it seems conceivable that a device could be programmed to access scripture, Church teachings, and the recorded wisdom of the saints to address questions of faith.
  • Technology can also be employed to catechize when in-person teachers are not available.

What limitations keep technological solutions from being the perfect tool to spread the Good News?

  • In Hebrews 11:1, we read “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.”
  • In my heart, I believe that evangelization is at its core a relationship. The evangelist walks alongside the inquirer, responding to the inquirer’s questions and concerns with the love of Christ. I may not have as many theological answers as device trained in artificial intelligence, but I have both compassion for my fellow human being and trust that God’s will is perfect.
  • In Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 113 we are taught, “By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God.2 With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, ‘the obedience of faith’.”

Are there current examples of Catholic artificial intelligence at work in spreading the Gospel?

  • Aleteia.org/ePaul – a tool which recommends helpful articles to share with friends who are interested in learning more about the faith
  • Missio.org – a “Pope Francis” Chatbot created by Pontifical Mission Societies that uses a dialogue-driven tool to drive users to information about mission projects and wisdom from Pope Francis

Listen to the full audio of our conversation.

 

Read more of our Tech Talk columns.


Copyright 2018 Lisa Hendey

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About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children's fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa's articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at www.LisaHendey.com for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.

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