The previous update on the project “Contemporary Orthodox Christian Views of Artificial Intelligence in ‘Cradle’ and ‘Diaspora’ Communities” (INSBS Collaboration Fund Collab/01/106), running at IHR and AIOCS from October 2022 to May 2023, focused on unofficial, popular views. The reader can find that summary here. In the intervening time, Efthymios Nicolaidis and I considered official ecclesiastical statements and professional Orthodox media. There is a completely different world there! Even when various hierarchs warn against the misuse and overuse of technology, especially IT, and less often AI, their stances are sober, inviting scrutiny, moderation, and wisdom in tackling such matters. But the Orthodox world has also taken to articulate in-principle guidelines in regard to scientific research and technological advancement, which can very well apply to AI. Most of these stances target ethical matters related to biomedical research and applications, but they can be extrapolated for the broader spectrum of technological progress.
The presence of moderate Orthodox voices in the virtual world is encouraging. While such voices are still few, it becomes obvious that the traditional principle of addressing matters when they are at hand, not in the stage of hypothetical cases. Indeed, following the ancient Christian wisdom, whose perfect illustration are the councils of all kinds, convened to discuss real crises, the contemporary Orthodox Churches react at a slow pace. This is not out of shyness, nor out of lack of interest. It is a matter of discernment and prudence. Wisdom dictates that a topic be considered from various angles before God’s people adopts a certain stance.
On another note, the material surveyed so far during the project led us to realise another form of polarisation, on top of the more mundane, ecclesiastical ones, currently plaguing Orthodox Christianity. That is, a chasm becomes increasingly obvious between the mainstream, traditional church, and al sorts of alternative orthodoxies. This situation is symptomatic for our “Trump” world, where vox populi, ignorant and manipulated by “influencers” of equal level, has ceased to be vox dei. For the popular misinformed Orthodox, the moderation of the official church is either weakness or capitulation to the “demonic” forces at work in the world, especially via IT and AI…
And so, while our project might cast some light upon the wide range of Orthodox views of technology in general and AI in particular, it also confirms what the last couple of decades have already made obvious, that Orthodox Christianity has lost its cohesion, transversally and radially. Exiting times…
22 February 2023 © AIOCS
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