Religion Should Not Guide Artificial Intelligence

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As both an artificial intelligence (AI) optimist, excited about its future and a Jew invested in the spiritual dimensions of life, I speak with trepidation and caution about AI’s (inevitable) impact on the human experience.

With spirituality as the cornerstone of my life, guiding my moral and ethical compass, I firmly believe that religion should not guide the development of AI. Rather, the development of AI should be an opportunity for religion to adapt and respond to new ethical challenges, not the domain of government.

The importance of secular foundations in the development of AI

AI, in essence, is the creation of human creativity and science. Like other technological developments, it is a tool that has the potential to fully reflect human values ​​and biases. When developing AI, it is important that this process remains based on secular principles. This ensures that the technology serves the diverse needs and beliefs of the global population rather than being swayed by specific religious teachings. Given Judaism’s emphasis on the pursuit of knowledge and understanding, it is important to recognize that the development of AI requires a similar approach. The Talmud teaches us to question, investigate, and seek wisdom. These principles can guide our approach to AI, fostering a culture and ethics of inquiry without allowing religious law to directly guide the way.

Spirituality and Ethics in AI

Spirituality, however, should not be completely divorced from the discussion about AI. My faith instills in me a strong sense of ethics and responsibility, which are critical attributes in the field of AI development. The problem of alignment in AI—ensuring that the goals and behaviors of AI systems are aligned with human values—is a critical challenge that can benefit from ethical insights, including those derived from religious traditions. For example, Jewish ethics, with its emphasis on justice, community safety, and the sanctity of life, can provide valuable perspectives in shaping AI policies that prioritize human well-being and ethical accountability. However, this contribution should be in the form of moral understandings rather than religious obligations, allowing for a pluralistic and inclusive approach that respects all belief systems.

AI as a reflection of human diversity

The development of AI must reflect the diversity of human experience. It should be informed by multiple perspectives, including those from different cultures, religions, and philosophical backgrounds. This difference ensures that AI systems are not biased towards any particular worldview and can serve humanity as a whole. As a Jewish individual, I see this as a continuation of the conversational tradition, where multiple voices contribute to a richer and more global understanding.

Religion in AI

Interestingly, rather than shaping AI, I suggest that religion may play a role in informing the thinking and practice of religion. AI, with its vast potential for data analysis and pattern recognition, can provide new insights into ancient religious texts, ethical dilemmas, and societal needs. This may lead to a renaissance in religious thought, rooted in tradition but with modern scientific understanding.

The OpenAI logo is displayed as a projection on the human eye.
JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images

While my Jewish faith informs my identity and ethical perspective, I believe that the development of AI must be guided by secular, inclusive principles. Religion, with its rich ethical traditions, can provide valuable insights into the problem of alignment in AI, but should not directly guide its development. Instead, there is an exciting potential for a symbiotic relationship where AI informs religious understanding, leading to a dynamic interplay between faith, ethics and technology. This approach ensures that AI development is not only technological, but ethical and universally beneficial.

Zack Kass is the former head of go-to-market at OpenAI.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author.