Masters or Slaves

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SKU: 9781789742398-PZX Category: ISBN: 9781789742398


A Christian engagement with and response to how AI technology is impacting individuals and society

Artificial Intelligence (AI) pervades much of our lives. We use facial recognition to open our phones, and the state uses it to track us – so what’s the problem? Decisions are made using machine learning on our private and personal data, from shopping habits to medical history –have we lost control? We order our digital world in conversation with chatbots – how convenient, but is it changing our relationships with people? The prospect of a self-driving vehicle lies just around the corner – should we care that it might run over a child to save the passenger’s life?

Jeremy Peckham shows us how we have become seduced by progress, embracing AI applications for their convenience, yet unwittingly diminishing our ability to be God’s image-bearers and losing moral responsibility. Rooted in the biblical truth that humanity is created in God’s image, Masters or Slaves? explores six ways in which AI has an impact today. We are challenged where, and how, to set boundaries, both privately and as a society, in order not to fall into addiction, slavery and idolatry.

About the Author
Jeremy Peckham has spent much of his career in the field of Artificial Intelligence, and latterly, as a businessman and entrepreneur. He worked as a government scientist at the UK Royal Aircraft Establishment and later moved to Logica, an international software and systems integration company. Whilst at Logica he was Project Director of the 5 year, pan European and 20m Euro research project on Speech Understanding and Dialogue (SUNDIAL) that broke new ground in AI. He founded his first company in 1993 through a management buy-out, based on the AI technology developed at Logica, and launched a successful public offering on the London Stock Exchange in 1996. Jeremy is now a technology entrepreneur, having helped to establish several high-tech companies over the last 25 years, where he has served as founder and interim CEO, Chairman, or non-executive director. He is part of a growing network of Christians in Europe and North America interested in AI and speaks at the Annual European Leadership Forum.
Press Reviews

This book shines brightly in the constellation of books on the subject. Written by an expert, it is historically situated, technologically informed, well-modulated in tone, coherent in argument, theological in orientation, and judicious in illustrations. More than a book of conclusions, its design and structure model the best in the art of robust critique while offering possible ways to consider the appropriate deployment of Artificial Intelligence.

Bruce A. Little, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, USA.

This is a book that needed to be written. We are surrounded by technologies which are new and ever changing. They impinge on almost every area of our lives – from work to leisure, from personal freedom to self-image. And they are not neutral. How do they affect us as human beings made in the image of God? How might AI have a negative impact on authentic relationships? How do we avoid technology becoming a cruel taskmaster? Jeremy Peckham has a profound grasp of both biblical truth and the AI revolution. He helps us to think in a Christian way about a subject we cannot ignore. His book is highly recommended.

Paul Mallard, Senior Minister, Widcombe Baptist Church, Bath, England; former President of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches

At last, a Christian critique of Artificial Intelligence written by a domain expert which succeeds in making the subject readily accessible to non-experts. Steering a biblically grounded and carefully argued course between the refuseniks and the techno-optimists, Jeremy Peckham unpacks the implications of Artificial Intelligence for real people made in the image of God. This is a word in season for twenty-first century disciples.

Norman Fraser, IT entrepreneur; Adjunct Professor, Aalborg University Business School, Denmark

Jeremy Peckham’s Masters or Slaves? lists many of the worrying pitfalls and problems that he feels currently, and potentially, evolve from an unthinking embrace of Artificial Intelligence. By the end of the book, he presents us with a ‘Christian manifesto’ for technology, that encourages us to put up barriers in some of our uses of and development of AI to safeguard genuine humanness and the image of God in humans. All this is controversial territory — a field that Peckham has significant familiarity with given his background in AI — and not all readers will agree with everything in the book; that is the nature of these unknowns. But the conversation is important, and the principles are necessary: while we embrace technology for the progress of the gospel, we should not idolize technology.

Josh Moody, senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL, and president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries

Artificially intelligence is increasingly prevalent in our societies and you might appreciate the information, directions, or recommendations it provides. But did you ever stop to consider how AI is shaping our lives and our societies? How should we as Christians relate to these new technologies? Jeremy Peckham starts with the principle that all humans are created in the image of Christ. If that’s true, what are the implications for our understanding of ‘being human’? And how does that shape our thinking about Artificial Intelligence?
Technology is evolving quickly and it is high time that we consider the consequences and make up our minds. With many years of experience in this field, Jeremy Peckham’s thoughtful observations and sometimes provocative questions and opinions, make for an interesting journey in the field of Artificial Intelligence, ending in a helpful manifesto summarising some of the concerns Jeremy has identified along the way.

Arie de Pater, EEA, Brussels Representative

Additional information

Weight 340 g

Peckham, Jeremy, (Author)

Publication Summary

SPCK (2021), 252 pages

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