The Human in AI – Comment Magazine

Current Affairs / Religion / Web/Tech

Having co-written a piece with Kirk Smith on some practical ways that AI might be useful in small church ministry; I feel like I should point people to this longer, much more thoughtful article by Prof. Walter J. Scheirer on how AI might impact what it is to be a human being in the years to come:

The Human in AI – Comment Magazine:

The Portuguese political scientist Bruno Maçães has argued in his recent book History Has Begun that imaginative mythmaking on the internet is upending society in ways that were inconceivable a generation ago. This, Maçães tells us, is a phenomenon that we should not fear but embrace. In his words, “technology has become the new holy writ, the inexhaustible source of the stories by which we order our lives.” Today’s internet is the natural culmination of decades of thought on the future role of media and the engineering to bring new media systems about, beginning in the mid-twentieth century and spanning to the present. A brief overview of the intellectual progression of the technologies that AI depends on will help shed some light on how we got to this moment in history.

The understanding of the internet as a creative space can be traced directly to the media theories of Marshall McLuhan. Far from the bland corporate vision of the internet as an “information superhighway,” McLuhan had a more immersive plan for the media systems of the near future based on where he saw the underlying technology going. “In this electric age,” he says in Understanding Media, “we see ourselves being translated more and more into the form of information, moving toward the technological extension of consciousness.” Propelling this idea, Kevin Kelly, the futurist and founding editor of Wired magazine, dubbed McLuhan “the Patron Saint of the Internet” in 1993 and ensured that it was McLuhan’s thinking on the media that shaped the culture of Silicon Valley. In explaining the investment McLuhan and Kelly had in the project of high-tech creation, the writer Nick Ripatrazone has drawn attention to something not generally associated with Silicon Valley: both were practicing Christians. And like Maçães today, they, too, saw the wellspring of technologically mediated storytelling as a path toward a wholly new and good universe defined by the collective imagination of humanity.

Much more to think about at the link above.

If you’re not subscribing to Comment, you really should be. It’s a wonderful source for thoughtful, faithful engagement with ideas and modern culture.

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. Hi bishop. Thank you for linking your covenant article with +Kirk. I had missed that. I took a stab at a Chat GPT Easter sermon. The prompt was “write an Easter sermon using the cross, empty tomb and grace.” It spit out a theologically orthodox sermon that was very well organized but pretty lacking in “life” that makes a sermon engaging.

    The troubling part: I took that ChatGPT sermon and ran it through a tag cloud generator. Then I took 5 Easter sermons from the Episcopal Church “Sermons that work” site and did the same. Let’s just say that ChatGPT has a significantly higher “Jesus Count” than the human authors.

    I find Nieuwhof’s stuff useful, though it needs some translation into our context. Being a Canadian, I think his stuff works a bit better than the usual U.S. big-box church stuff in an Episcopal church culture.

Comments are closed.