Tech Talk: Artificial Intelligence, Writing, and the Spiritual Life

Tech Talk with Lisa Hendey/Son Rise Morning Show (

On a recent episode of the Son Rise Morning Show, we discussed artificial intelligence, writing, and the spiritual life.

The New York Times reported this week on one author’s journey to write a new novel employing machine learning. What does that term mean and how is it being used to write this book?
  • The New York Times reported on Robin Sloan, a published author who is employing a homegrown machine learning program to write his next novel. Sloan has created and refined his system by creating small amounts of text and using the computer to augment his words by referencing a database of selected works, including science fiction and technology magazines, novels and even the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fish Bulletin
  • According to Wikipedia, “Machine learning is a field of artificial intelligence that uses statistical techniques to give computer systems the ability to “learn” from data, without being explicitly programmed.”
  • Helpful YouTube video:
What are some current applications of machine learning that we use every day but may not even realize we’re using?
As an author, are you concerned about computers taking over the writing of books? And should I be concerned about a robot taking over my job as a journalist?
  • I’m less concerned about a computer taking over the writing of my books than I am about folks reading fewer books. But blessedly, Pew reports that Americans’ reading statistics have actually held steady in recent years.
  • My sense is that our ability to connect with those who consume our work will rely more than ever on our accompaniment of them. The reason I write and the reason you work in Catholic media is that this is our role in the New Evangelization. No computer can replace the human component of walking alongside someone in their faith journey.
From a faith perspective, do we need to be concerned about machine learning or AI taking over our prayer lives?
  • Yes, if faith becomes a routine, robotic exercise, we lose our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Even if we are not using AI to pray, we’ve all probably experience moments of spiritual dryness that come from just going through the motions in prayer.
Are there any positive applications of machine learning being used in Catholic circles?



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Copyright 2018 Lisa Hendey


About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of 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 for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.

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