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Virtual world and artificial intelligence: challenges for pastoral action

Prof. Jaime Tatay, SJ, PhD, from the Faculty of Theology, was a speaker at the Youth Pastoral Dialogue on Pastoral and Metaverse, organised by Salesians and CCS Editorial

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Professor Jaime Tatay, SJ, PhD, during his lecture

15 April 2024

Last Friday, 12 April, Jaime Tatay, professor at the Faculty of Theology and co-director of the CTR Chair, gave a talk entitled "Virtual world and artificial intelligence: challenges to pastoral action".

The context of the intervention was the II Youth Pastoral Dialogues, "Pastoral in the Metaverse", organised at the Salesian Provincial House and the CCS publishing house in Madrid.

Professor Tatay began his presentation by outlining some innovations prior to the advent of AI (such as the introduction of the printing press, the advent of radio, television and social networks), illustrating how the various technological disruptions have influenced society and the transmission of faith.

After this historical overview, he went on to analyse the risks and threats that AI poses today to society and, in particular, to the religious sphere: polarisation, fragmentation of attention, generation of inequalities, excessive virtualisation, commodification of pastoral information or various ethical biases and dilemmas.

He went on to point out the many opportunities and contributions that this new technology can also bring to pastoral action: freeing up time spent on mechanical and managerial tasks, ease of managing large volumes of information and thus being able to offer more personalised attention, creation of pastoral and catechetical resources and materials, virtual accompaniment, support for research in pastoral theology, etc.

In any case, as Tatay affirmed, although it is still too early to assess the extent and impact of generative AI in the pastoral field, what is clear is that technological literacy and ongoing training in these matters has become a compulsory subject for all pastoral agents and for any ordinary Christian.

Professor Jaime Tatay Nieto, from the Department of Moral Theology and Praxis of Christian Life, holds a PhD in Theology, is co-director of the Hana and Francisco José Ayala Chair of Science, Technology and Religion and an expert in environmental ethics, sustainability and the social doctrine of the Church.


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