Asbury Honors Program Hosts Philosopher for Artificial Intelligence Discussion
October 13, 2023
In October, the Asbury University Honors Program hosted Dr. Brandon Rickabaugh for his talk: “Virtually Like Jesus? Spiritual Formation in the Age of AI.” Rickabaugh expressed that that by rejecting the depths and dynamics of the human soul, humans continue to outsource our humanity; he argued that the only way forward is a return to the reality of the soul as understood by Jesus Christ.
“Dr. Rickabaugh challenged the students and others in attendance to think critically about how we allow our attention to be consumed by technology,” said Honors Program director and chair of psychology Dr. Paul Nesselroade. “His talk resulted in the most vigorous post-event conversation between the speaker and Honors students to date. Such was the interest level and felt weightiness of the topic for our students.”
Rickabaugh serves as Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Research Scholar of Philosophy of Technology & Culture at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He is co-author of “The Substance of Consciousness” (Wiley-Blackwell, 2023) with J. P. Moreland. Rickabaugh is a fellow of the Culture Initiative at The Martin Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he explores how the nature of consciousness and developing technologies, such as AI, impact human flourishing and culture. Learn more: https://www.brandonrickabaugh.com/.
“There are two dangers that AI technology poses to our spiritual formation in Christ,” Rickabaugh said. “AI monetizes our attention, which is a problem because the first act of love is where your attention goes. It also extends our powers of manipulating things, and that plays really strongly into our desire to manipulate God and our spiritual life.”
Honors student Gabe Allen ’26 shares: “Rickabaugh encouraged an excellent conversation that summarized the dynamics of technology (or lack thereof) in our journey with the Holy Spirit.”
Rickabaugh offers guidance to Christians regarding AI.
“As people of faith, I think that we should view AI as an extension of the human person,” he said. “We should consider that technologies are not merely tools; they present moral situations for us. We have a strong obligation to steward them well.”
The Asbury University Honors Program invites students to join a community of scholars engaged in a themed enrichment experience which gives particular focus to the concept of human value and dignity and the virtuous life. Learn more: https://www.asbury.edu/academics/honors/.