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Pastoral Letter June 2023

Dear Friends,

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now everywhere! Once the sole preserve of science fiction literature and geeky computer nerds, everyone is talking about AI. Respected people within the Tech Community are warning us about the potential dangers of AI. Geoffrey Hinton, a Google Executive, has recently resigned so that he can speak freely about AI. Dubbed the “The Godfather of AI”, Hinton stated that “Human intelligence is organic. AI is digital intelligence and we do not fully understand what that means”. Recent research showed how potentially AI is better than humans. Analysts looked at online conversations between doctors and patients and the questions that patients asked the doctors. The researchers fed the same patient questions into a Chatbot AI system. The AI system generated responses that were shown to other medical practitioners. It was felt that the AI system provided more sympathetic and caring responses compared to the real human doctors to their human patients. If I have understood this correctly then the computer-generated AI came across as being more friendly and genuine than the real human being doctors. It goes to show we respond well to people who are kind and generous. Having a brilliant medical mind but an awful bedside manner doesn’t cut the mustard. Apparently, AI understands this quite clearly! Part of the healing process includes a listening ear and real care and concern. God comes to us in the very real person of Jesus. Jesus’ friendship on a human level moulded the disciples to follow him. If Jesus had been self-centred and abrasive his friends would have not hung around. At Pentecost the world received the promised gift of the Holy Spirit to show us the power of connectedness. Straight after Pentecost we celebrate Trinity Sunday, reflecting on the unique Christian understanding of God being Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our reality and understanding of the created world are through indivisible relationships. Don’t ask me to explain how AI works: I haven’t a clue! The AI example above shows that even a computer understands the importance of caring friendship in making this world a better place.

With Every Blessing,

John Gordon.

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