Pastoral Virtues for Artificial Intelligence:
Care and the algorythms that guide our lives

(Lexington Books, 2022)

Table of contents


Hamman Pastoral Virtues


Pastoral Virtues for Artificial Intelligence seeks to inform our conversations around the prominence and power of Ai. It's for those who can see possibility in partnering with artificial general intelligence.

Pastoral Virtues for Artificial Intelligence (AI) acknowledges that human destiny is intimately tied to artificial intelligence. AI already outperforms a person on most tasks. Our ever-deepening relationship with an AI that is increasingly autonomous mirrors our relationship to what is perceived as Sacred or Divine. Like God, AI awakens hope and fear in people, while giving life to some and taking livelihood, especially in the form of jobs, from others. AI, built around values of convenience, productivity, speed, efficiency, and cost reduction, serve humanity poorly, especially in moments that demand care and wisdom. This book explores the pastoral virtues of hope, patience, play, wisdom, and compassion as foundational to personal flourishing, communal thriving, and building a robust AI. Biases of determinism, speed, objectivity, ignorance, and apathy within AI's algorithms are identified. These biases can be minimized through the incorporation of pastoral virtues as values guiding AI.

From the opening paragraphs of the book:   

The hunger for data and automation is drowning hope and is instilling paranoid suspicion and fear. Imagine a society where persons and communities oscillated between glimpses of hope and buckets of despair; a society where speed eclipsed every other value and wisdom drowned in a sea of knowledge. All lived under surveillance as computer networks and cameras tirelessly listened, looked, recorded, and reported to unknown entities. Automation and virtual possibility changes the way we understand work. In this society, a person’s past was remembered to such a degree that acts of forgiveness failed as everybody could recall someone else’s past. The rich used their wealth to buy privacy as populations became transparent to large corporations. While some argued their society made progress, others feared their future. Imagining this society is easy, as we are not imagining a plotline of a dystopian science fiction movie. No, we imagine our own lives and society. Our world is increasingly driven by computer systems that learn, think, adapt, behave and exceed human skills and capacities.

Between cameras in city centers and on street corners, but also through our smart speakers, online consumption, and same day delivery services, we have created a world where computer networks determine much of our experience...






Chapter 1       Hope: Acting now and waiting upon a preferred future

Chapter 2       Patience: Discovering time and remaining present

Chapter 3       Play: Finding possibility and unlocking potential

Chapter 4       Wisdom: Foreseeing consequences and doing the right thing

Chapter 5       Compassion: Witnessing and being moved to relieve suffering





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