On May 7, 2023, Hope Media Europe, the media center of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, organized the 12th Media Day in Alsbach-Hähnlein (near Darmstadt). Coming from German-speaking countries, around 50 media professionals, students, and people interested in media―from the fields of video, audio, design, photography, text/print, journalism, communication, and internet―met at this exchange-and-networking event to discuss the topic "Artificial Intelligence (AI): the beginning of a new era?"
Two AI practitioners had been invited for the lectures: William Edward Timm, theologian, digital media expert, and department head of Novo Tempo, the Adventist TV station in Brazil, which belongs to the Hope Channel broadcasting family; and Danillo Cabrera, software expert at Hope Media Europe. Both have already gained practical experience with the use of artificial intelligence.
Evolution of AI
"We are in the middle of a revolution" were the words of Timm, who first gave a brief overview of the history of artificial intelligence in his keynote speech. As early as 1950, the British mathematician Alan Turing invented the Turing Test: A computer is considered intelligent if, in any question-answer game over an electrical connection, humans cannot distinguish whether a computer or a human is sitting at the other end of the line. In 1956, the first AI program in history, "Logic Theorist," was written. This program was able to prove 38 theorems from Russell and Whitehead's fundamental work Principia Mathematica.
Additionally, in 1965, Herbert Simon, an American social scientist and later Nobel Prize winner for economics, predicted that in 20 years, machines would be able to do what humans could. In 1997, the time had come: a computer called "Deep Blue" defeated the then world chess champion Garri Kasparov.
Meanwhile, a lot of artificial intelligence is already being used in the background, says Timm―for example, in algorithms that suggest music and videos in social media according to the user's taste. What is new, however, is generative AI, with which users can solve concrete tasks or create products, such as ChatGPT or the image generator Midjourney.
Timm put forward the thesis that this generative AI would democratize AI, as it could now be used by every human being in a self-determined way, not only as a component of software over which one had no influence (e.g., algorithms). He distinguished three phases in the development of AI: the generative AI already mentioned, neuronal networks that would imitate the human mind, and so-called Deep Learning, which would, for example, allow self-driving cars to drive accident-free. Finally, Timm addressed the ethical aspects of the application of AI.
Artificial Intelligence and Ethics
Timm cited the AI-supported production of meat substitutes as a positive example. Artificial intelligence can analyze the molecular structure of meat and use the results to assemble a similar product from plant molecules that is very similar in consistency and taste to the meat product.
In 2021, Guiseppe Scionti has already produced a meat substitute product from the 3D printer in this way, although it is not yet fully developed. However, that could change quickly, says Timm.
In the ethical evaluation of AI, it is important to distinguish between "Narrow AI," which is intended for practical, labor-saving purposes, and "General AI," which resembles the human mind and acts independently. In general, one of the main dangers is the expected spread of fakes of all kinds (fake news, pictures, videos, etc.). Since a democracy lives from dialogue and discussion, this should not be taken over, damaged, or prevented by AI, says Timm.
According to calculations by the Goldman Sachs banking firm, AI could cause 300 million people worldwide to lose their previous jobs and have to be retrained. This would have not only political but also psychological consequences. "Many people will have the feeling of being superfluous," said Timm. He assumes, however, that after a transitional phase in which AI makes previous activities more efficient, new fields of activity will emerge for which resources will then be available. "At the beginning of every new technology, there are adjustment problems until a new distribution of roles has become established."
Timm formulated some rules for dealing with artificial intelligence:
- People should familiarize themselves with it and apply it.
- People should not trust it 100 percent; it sometimes delivers wrong results.
- AI should not have the last word in decisions and assessments.
- Everyone should prepare for a future shaped by AI, through critical thinking, professional adaptability, and, above all, the training of creative, social ,and communicative skills.
- Christian values should play a crucial role in the application of AI.
Cabrera then presented a number of practical applications for AI in his talk. They ranged from video, image, and music generators to text-based tools, such as ChatGPT, and avatars with a human appearance that could be used, for example, to conduct customer conversations.
In Project Slam, participants presented their projects in contributions of ten minutes each. They were in the fields of music, film, marketing, podcast, and comic drawing.
Media Day Award
Film music composer Manuel Igler was awarded the Media Day Award. He wrote music for various TV commercials and series on Hope TV (e.g., Encounters, the intro for the moonlight show, and the series about the Old Testament book of Daniel [manueligler.com]).
Hope Media Europe operates, among others, the television channel Hope TV. It is part of the international Hope Channel family of channels, which was founded in 2003 by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the USA and now consists of over 60 national channels.
Hope TV can be received via satellite, Germany-wide via cable, and on the internet via www.hopetv.de.