Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

AI Can Enhance HI

Written by: on September 7, 2023

In 1991 I was a youth pastor and I specifically remember being at my secretary’s home to talk about an upcoming mission trip. Before I even sat down, she ecstatically said, “Hey PT, look at this! The World Wide Web!” This computer thing is amaaaaaazing!” I had no idea what she was talking about but as she typed in different words on the screen to show me the weather, sports, and news I was really impressed.

Over the next couple of years many Christians rejected the World Wide Web but Ann Brodhead taught me how to navigate it well for youth ministry. Over the next few years through reading and sermons I was told about how the web could be used for evil and it was Satan’s tool. I also found many who used the World Wide Web for good purposes. It was obvious the American religious world was not ready for this new internet thing.

Sal Kahn’s advice about AI would have been great back in the 90’s, “Fight like hell to put up the guardrails.”1 Without guardrails there can be many casualties. This leads me to

The dangers of AI for my studies.

Until this class, I had never read or listened to anything about AI. So, after listening to the videos and reading the articles, I decided to use AI Chat for one of my favorite words, “Havruta.” Within three seconds this is what came up:

Havruta is a Hebrew term that refers to the traditional method of studying Jewish texts in pairs. In havruta learning, two individuals engage in a close and interactive study of Jewish texts, often engaging in lively discussions and debates to deepen their understanding of the texts. This method of learning encourages critical thinking, collaboration, and the exploration of different perspectives. Havruta learning is widely practiced in Jewish educational settings and is valued for its ability to foster deep engagement with the texts and promote meaningful connections between learners.2

I was definitely impressed and thought of a few dangers of AI. If I become too dependent on AI tools and platforms for my studies, I may rely on them for most of my assignments. This can lead to a decrease in critical thinking skills and the ability to problem solve independently. Ouch. Critical thinking is what this program is all about! In fact, Elder and Paul said, “A well-cultivated critical thinker comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards.”3 AI can take away my well-reasoned conclusions and solutions and make me less of a thinker.

Another danger I see is inaccurate or biased information. Bob Duffy once wrote, “We can classify all the varied explanations of our misperceptions into two groups: how we think and what we’re told.”4 AI algorithms may not always provide accurate or unbiased information. If I solely rely on AI-generated content without cross referencing or verifying the information, I may end up writing incorrect material.

One more of the many dangers is lack of human interaction. AI-based tutoring systems provide automatic feedback. However, they lack the human touch and personal interaction. Poole remarked in her book, “Being a delight to work with will tend to be your best bet for attracting excellent performance from others.”5 Human interaction is valuable in learning. Since there are dangers to relying on AI, there are definitely a few limits.

What are the limits of AI for my studies?

An important limit I see is a lack of human understanding. AI systems often lack true understanding and common-sense reasoning. While they can process and analyze large amounts of data, they may struggle to interpret context, emotions, and complex human interactions accurately. If I use AI for an entire blog post, all the feelings, passion, and emotion have been removed.

It appears to me most AI systems are designed to excel in specific tasks or domains. They may struggle when faced with unfamiliar or unrelated tasks outside their trained scope. AI lacks the general intelligence and adaptability that humans possess.

Another area that would really limit me is AI’s lack of creativity. AI is excellent at pattern recognition but may lack the ability to think creatively. It cannot generate entirely new ideas or solutions that go beyond its programmed capabilities. So, after looking at the negative, it’s time to look at the positive.

The possibilities of AI for my studies.

With my ever increasing need to improve, AI can analyze my learning patterns and preferences to create personalized study plans tailored to my needs. I really like this because it will help optimize my learning experience.

AI powered tutoring systems can provide real-time feedback, explanations, and guidance on various subjects. David Boud remarked, “Feedback must always be judged in terms of its effect on student learning.”6 AI definitely will help me to learn through its feedback.

AI can really help me with research and information retrieval. AI algorithms can assist me in finding relevant research papers, articles, and resources. This will save me time and effort in my research process. As AI continues to advance there will likely be more opportunities for its integration into education and studies.

By putting up those guardrails (whatever they are), “AI can enhance HI, human intelligence, it’s potential and purpose.”7

1 How AI could save (not destroy) Education. Sahl Kahn TED.
2 AI Chat
3 The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking. Linda Elder and Richard Paul, 9.
4 Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything. Bobby Duffy, 9.
5 Leadersmithing. Eve Poole, 74.
6 Assessment AI, David Boud
7 How AI could save (not destroy) Education. Sahl Kahn TED.

About the Author

Todd E Henley

Todd is an avid cyclist who loves playing frisbee golf, watching NASCAR, making videos, photography, playing Madden football, and watching sport. He is addicted to reading, eating fruits and vegetables, and drinking H2O. His passion is talking about trauma, epigenetics, chromosomes, and the brain. He has been blessed with a sensationally sweet wife and four fun creative children (one of which resides in heaven). In his free time he teaches at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary and is the Founder/Executive Director of Restore Counseling Center.

10 responses to “AI Can Enhance HI”

  1. mm Kim Sanford says:

    Insightful post and great connection to the early days of the Internet. Guardrails seem like a wise idea, but as you hint at, the challenge is knowing what those guardrails should be. If we could look into the future, say 20 years down the road, I’m sure we would answer these questions about possibilities and dangers of AI very differently. It seems like the necessary guardrails only become obvious after quite a lot of people have fallen off the cliff, so to speak. Do you have any ideas for specific guardrails, in academic institutions or otherwise?

  2. Hey Kim, I’m not sure how insightful my post was but I’ll take a stab at your question. For now, in lieu of either outlawing AI (which will never happen) or having some perfect method of regulation, we might start by strongly encouraging academic institutions to reveal what experiments they are doing, what’s worked, what hasn’t and where unintended consequences might be emerging. Transparency is the first step towards ensuring that AI doesn’t get the better of us. I think working with the academic institution to provide the above answers is just one small way. Therefore, it’s a collaborative effort.

    • Jennifer Vernam says:

      I appreciate your call here for transparency, Todd. It seems to me that there is an underlying feeling that using AI is cheating, which discourages people from “outing” themselves around the use cases they have found for AI, which doesn’t help anyone. I am not sure what the solution is for changing this underlying feeling, but I have found myself instinctively doing almost the opposite. If I am complemented for professional work that I have done that has at all been influenced by AI, I announce it to the world by saying the equivalent of “Chat GPT helped me!” Perhaps I am over-compensating! I am looking forward to the day when the norms are well-established.

  3. Adam Harris says:

    Great post man! Love your analogy of the internet and how fear was the initial response for many Christians. That was my experience as well. It seems like most of us are landing on “It’s a tool” that can be used for good or bad. It’s more about the hand that wields it than the thing itself. I think our job as leaders of faith is to continue help mature and nurture the people who hold whatever tool they hold at any given moment.

    I will say it is fun to play around with. This week was my first time on ChatGPT and its impressive!

  4. mm Jana Dluehosh says:

    Todd, I love that you highlighted the “guardrails” from Khan’s video. I feel like we are desperately trying to put up internet and technology “guardrails” after the fact! The highway has been built willy nilly and we are trying to straighten it out without blocking traffic! I wonder, from your example of how the church responded to the internet by rejecting it instead of speaking reason into the debate. If you could go back and speak to the church at the birth of the internet, knowing what you know now, what would you say to it Todd?

    • Hey Joyful Jana! Great question. For some believers I actually don’t say anything. Just like if I had to do it again, I would still not say anything. The Mennonite denomination is a beautiful loving caring denomination but it can be a little head strong because the internet and AI would be considered worldly since it is not in the Bible. Time does tend to bring many people around and I would let time bring them around. I know it’s a weak answer. 😊

  5. mm Russell Chun says:

    Verify before Publication is my new AI motto.

    I think that we are looking at a precocious baby (AI) at the moment.

    It will mature, grow, learn its limitations and expand.

    We in turn, are part of that babies training. If we learn to set guardrails about lying (I had to do that with my kids) and only speaks the truth (with footnotes and references, then I think we will be okay.

    The web brought pornography to thousands of “christian leaders.” It also enables me to start up GoodSports Ukraine.

    A double edge sword.


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