It is possible that most of you can show surprise when seeing the title of this chronicle. A priori It may seem that Artificial Intelligence and Spirituality have nothing to do with each other. The first time I considered the possibility of relating both realities myself, I thought the same as most of you, I must confess.
Given the growing interest and use of Artificial Intelligence in various facets of technology, the economy, the generation of information, interpersonal and social relationships (in line with what I exposed in my sixth chronicle dedicated to the analysis of the reality ofmetaverse) raises the impact that Artificial Intelligence will have in some time (shorter than long) in the field of Spirituality.
Currently, there are several analyzes and pioneering approaches on the impact and the link that Artificial Intelligence has with a field that may seem so distant from it as is the Spirituality of the Human Being.
That said, I will proceed to explain and reflect (briefly) on the relationship and the direct impact it will have on this transcendental sphere of human reality. I will answer the following question: How does the interrelation between the automatic processing of data and information occur until reaching the interaction with the human sphere of the Spiritual?
The first evidence from which we have to start is that language is key to understanding human phenomena. we, the Homo sapienswe have as one of our main characteristics the thought and the use of reason.
That said, the complexity of human phenomena cannot be explained through language (only). To do so would be doing without other non-linguistic dimensions of human existence. Therefore, language does not exhaust the multiple dimensions of the human phenomenon and of reality and this is where the interpretive potential of Artificial Intelligence comes into play.
Next, I will list several aspects in which the potential of Artificial Intelligence can be a great ally of the spiritual phenomenon (understood in a broad sense):
1º-With its high data processing capacity, it can help to alleviate human lexical insufficiency, related to the sphere of the intangible.
2º-It can generate codes and syntax capable of processing large volumes of information with many significant nuances that may be at a higher level of understanding than the understanding of the human mind itself. The human being has the limitation of his own language. Everything that he cannot express escapes the scope of his comprehension and his reflection. Therefore, it is an area where Artificial Intelligence can establish important links in the in-depth study of the immaterial sphere of reality, giving us elements to reflect on issues that we can barely glimpse.
3º-In areas related to spiritual formation and in higher education institutions, the creation of interdisciplinary research teams should be encouraged to study in depth (using Artificial Intelligence techniques) the ways of integrating knowledge generation methodologies corresponding to the experimental areas with those focused on the study of the intangible.
That Artificial Intelligence, Spirituality and even Religion can find a positive balance is evidenced by Pope Francis. In November 2020, he expressed that “robotics can make the world a better place if it has the common good as its goal” and encouraged prayer so that artificial intelligence and robots “serve humanity”. In this sense, in the Catholic world , tools have been created that help improve the religious experience of the faithful in the context of the Pandemic (when new doors were opened towards digital and technology).
Outside the Catholic sphere we must say that there are several experiences of some denominations or Christian churches that are venturing into the reality of metaverse. As of 2017 the company Facebook(current Goal) set out to integrate into its virtual environment congregations, communities and centers belonging to various Christian denominations (as well as other religions) and came to create a circle of alliances with certain international denominations and confessions. In 2021, the company went one step further: a formula was studied to be able to integrate religious communities, whose fundamental presence was the space of virtuality (an idea that was socialized with various religious leaders). At present, the design and commissioning of the metaverseIt is one more step in that line, while for certain religious congregations it can be seen as a new space for Preaching and Evangelization.
It seems to me, for all the above, prudent and correct to have an open mind and see the potential that Artificial Intelligence and the new digital environments can contribute to the reflection and experience of the Spiritual. We cannot condemn the use of new technologies if it contributes to the integral development of the Human Being (which includes the spiritual and religious sphere).
-Bonaventure, JB: “Why religions are right to fear robots and artificial intelligence”, in Vice. Available at the following link: https://www.vice.com/en/article/4ad5yd/religions-have-a-reason-to-fear-robots-artificial-intelligence
-Calderero Hernández, JF: “Artificial Intelligence and Spirituality”, International Journal of Interactive Multimedia and Artificial Intelligence, vol. 7, no. 1 (2021), pp.34-43.