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New class explores Christian ethics of artificial intelligence

‘Someone’s ethical system is being coded in these AI systems,’ Liberty professor says

A pilot class at Liberty University is exploring the ethics of artificial intelligence from an evangelical Christian perspective this spring, according to the university.

Professor Alexander Mason, who teaches the course “Ethics of Artificial Intelligence,” said he wants students to think critically about the rapidly expanding technology, according to an article this week by the university communications office.

“No matter their chosen vocation, our students will encounter the ethical dimensions of AI, and I want them to be fully prepared to apply Christian truth at every point with intelligence and courage,” Mason said.

Problems posed by AI – from creative works to political bias to cheating – are being discussed at universities all across the U.S.

These include religious institutions like Liberty and The Master’s University, a private, Christian school in California. Master’s recently began offering a computer science major with an emphasis on artificial intelligence, The College Fix reported.

Mason at Liberty said his class focuses on AI in relation to the Christian belief that human beings are created in God’s image. Liberty is a private, evangelical Christian university in Virginia.

“When we reflect God’s character … we do that in the physical senses, such as creating and advancing technology to help us,” he said in the article. “But can those things that we create ever truly approximate the sophistication and the beauty of God’s creation of mankind, the pinnacle of His creation?”

Mary Katherine Flage, a junior, said the class is challenging her to think about the impact of AI on creative endeavors, according to the report.

“On the behavioral sciences side, understanding the human mind and how that can be mimicked or mirrored by artificial intelligence is fascinating, and then my fine arts specialization is also informed by how AI and creativity interact,” she said.

The class also delves into considerations about AI in relation to healthcare, education, the workforce, relationships – and even its programmers’ worldviews, according to the report.

Mason said he wants to help students recognize that “someone’s ethical system, or worldview, is being coded in the algorithmic architectures of these AI systems.”

Professors at other universities also have been cautioning the public about problems with AI.

Recently, the popular AI program ChatGPT refused to generate jokes about Muslims in an experiment by Jerry Coyne, a professor emeritus of ecology at the University of Chicago. However, ChatGPT did produce jokes about Jews, Christians, and atheists, Coyne found.

Last year, ChatGPT also cited non-existent news stories as proof that professors had been accused of sexual misconduct, The College Fix reported at the time.

What’s more, many universities report problems with students using AI to cheat on assignments and tests.

MORE: Students earn As on tests, essays with ChatGPT artificial intelligence

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.