An Interview with ChatGPT

November/December 2023

The rapidly evolving technology of artificial intelligence presents a slew of unknowns for humanity. For those who advocate for religious freedom, perhaps the key question is this: How far could the use of AI change the way our laws, our government, and other important social institutions relate to religion and religious practice?

For answers, Liberty magazine went straight to the source. Here is an unedited conversation with ChatGPT about artificial intelligence and the future of religious freedom.

Hello. Liberty magazine is a journal devoted to issues of religious free exercise and separation of church and state. Would you mind if we interviewed you for the magazine?

ChatGPT Hello! As an AI language model, I don’t have personal experiences or beliefs, but I’d be more than happy to help you with any questions or information related to religious free exercise and the separation of church and state for your interview. Feel free to ask anything, and I’ll do my best to provide accurate and insightful answers.

Thanks. Our question is this: Do you think there are ways that increased use of AI in our society could threaten religious freedom?

ChatGPT The increased use of AI indeed presents certain challenges and potential risks to religious freedom, although it’s important to note that these concerns largely depend on how AI is designed, deployed, and regulated. Here are some ways in which AI could potentially impact religious freedom:

Algorithmic Bias: AI algorithms can be influenced by biased data or biased design, leading to discriminatory outcomes. If AI systems used in areas like hiring, access to services, or law enforcement exhibit bias against certain religious groups, it could result in unfair treatment and limited opportunities for those communities.

Privacy and Surveillance: AI can be em­ployed in sophisticated surveillance systems, raising concerns about the invasion of privacy for individuals and religious organizations. If religious activities are monitored or analyzed without consent, it could create a chilling effect on religious expression.

Content Moderation: Social media platforms and online spaces often use AI for content moderation. While the intention may be to combat hate speech, this could inadvertently censor legitimate religious expression or lead to the suppression of religious voices.

Automated Decision-making: As AI is integrated into various sectors, including health care, education, and finance, automated decision-making could affect religious practices and observances. For instance, religious dietary restrictions might not be accounted for in automated meal planning or health-care recommendations.

Religious AI Applications: The development of AI-powered religious applications, chatbots, or virtual religious leaders could raise questions about the authenticity and legitimacy of religious experiences. It may also lead to potential abuse or manipulation of vulnerable individuals seeking spiritual guidance.

Misuse by Authoritarian Governments: In countries with restricted religious freedom, AI technology could be used to monitor and control religious activities, leading to increased persecution and suppression of religious minorities.

To address these concerns and uphold religious freedom, it is crucial to establish appropriate regulations and ethical guidelines for AI development and deployment. This includes promoting transparency and accountability in AI systems, ensuring diverse representation in AI design teams, and incorporating religious perspectives in the development of AI policies. Additionally, fostering public awareness and dialogue about the potential implications of AI on religious freedom is essential for safeguarding this fundamental human right in the digital age.

Excellent suggestions. Thanks for your time—it was good chatting with you.

ChatGPT You’re welcome! I’m glad I could assist you. If you have any more questions or need further information in the future, feel free to reach out. Good luck with your work at Liberty magazine, and it was a pleasure chatting with you, too! Have a great day!

Clearly we have a long way yet to go before we can even begin to grasp the potential impact of AI on religious freedom in America and internationally. In the years ahead, lawmakers and courts will be forced to grapple with many AI-related challenges. But, as ChatGPT rightly points out, the severity of these challenges will “largely depend on how AI is designed, deployed, and regulated.”

And that is a task for humans. It will be for humanity to decide what values are worth protecting, and to discover how these can be prioritized and protected within an increasingly automated AI world.