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Generation, Artifice, Intelligence
A Wayfare Forum on AI
On November 30, 2022, OpenAI released ChatGPT; two months later, it had nearly 100 million monthly active users, making it perhaps the most repeated and least understood acronym in the history of consumer applications. For the record, ChatGPT stands for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer but what it means is still very much up in the air. Fueling this meteoric rise was the palpable feeling that something long promised and much debated had entered the world: artificial intelligence. (That and a lot of electricity!)
The rapid release of subsequent versions of large language models, of which ChatGPT is an example, has only ratcheted up our collective levels of wonder and anxiety. What do we make of all this? What should we make of it? What exactly is this new technology? And what, if anything, does AI mean for Latter-day Saints and Christian life more generally?
In the search for better conversations on these topics, Wayfare invited a number of writers and technologists to contribute to a series on AI. As you’ll see in the reflections below, there are a wide variety of interpretations of artificial intelligence, but also a consensus that at stake is the future of creativity, knowledge, community and religion. Our hope is that these reflections will help you make greater sense of how this technology—and the people in front and behind it—may yet reshape our world.
The New York Times shone a spotlight on the “unexpected hotbed of Y.A. authors: Utah” this week, exploring what enables Provo to carry a literary punch above its weight. From popular names like Stephanie Meyers, Shannon Hale, Orson Scott Card, and Brandon Sanderson to rising voices like Kiersten White, Mette Ivie Harrison, and Matt Kirby, the piece considers what motivating features and possible barriers exist for Y.A. writers of a Mormon background.
Graduate Theological Union will be hosting a conference next spring, entitled “Latter-day Saint Theology & Divine Finitude: Scripture, Revelation, The Problem of Evil & Social Justice", with paper proposals currently being accepted. Taking place on April 26-27th, 2024 in Berkeley, California, the conference’s keynote speaker will be theologian Thomas Jay Oord. Interested parties can submit a proposal of 700-1000 words to email@example.com by December 1, 2023.
The National Catholic Reporter featured the remarks of Wayfare senior editor Anna Thurston, presenting on a panel titled "Interreligious Ecological Collaboration: Partnerships as Spiritual Practice” at the recently held Parliament of the World’s Religion in Chicago, Il. Additionally, representatives of the Church helped run a FamilySearch geneology booth at the Parliament, as featured here.
Wayfare is now seeking new, original fiction that speaks to faith and spirituality, with a pitch guide available here. With preference for short (less than 3,500 words,) original, and spiritual submissions, those interested are invited to send their pieces, along with a short cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Oxford Comment podcast recently interviewed scholars Richard Bushman and Grant Hardy for their recent publications on the Book of Mormon through Oxford University Press, just in time for the 200th anniversary of the angel Moroni’s appearance to Joseph Smith. Both Bushman’s Joseph Smith’s Gold Plates: A Cultural History and Hardy’s The Annotated Book of Mormon are available for purchase.