What ChatGPT Can’t Do
Apr 21, 2023

What ChatGPT Can’t Do

by Liel Leibovitz

…For years now, the art of being human has been lost to many, especially those who take a great deal of pride in being at or near the top of the socioeconomic heap. We hail and reward productivity, focus, and output. We regale ourselves with “life hacks,” ways of being more efficient while exerting less effort. In short, we’ve come to think like machines. Which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise: The reigning metaphors of every age are always closely intertwined with its modes of production. To the soot-stained wretches in the nineteenth century, the factory was the central image, and life was imagined as moving along a production line. Agrarian societies understood themselves in terms of harvests, rainfalls, and droughts. To us, it’s all about rapid computation, performing as many tasks as possible in the shortest time imaginable.

Could there be anything more antithetical to the human soul? Our souls, and our hearts, are trained by sacrifice, for the benefit of others and for the glory of God. The soul is enlarged when we set aside that pile of work emails to play with our small child, when we share our lunch with a hungry person on the street, when we wake up early on a Sunday to go volunteer at the church’s soup kitchen. None of those activities would compute with ChatGPT or its future AI successors. The spirit that moves us will forever remain foreign to machines, however “smart” they become. …

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First Things is published by The Institute on Religion and Public Life, an interreligious, nonpartisan research and education institute whose purpose is to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society.