14 Dec #151 – Integrity Idea 018: Use Tech “WHYsely”
ESSENCE: Integrity Ideas are specific actions a faithful leader can consider in leading faithfully through business a better way.
INTEGRITY IDEA: Use Tech “WHYsely”
COVERT-OVERT CONTINUUM (six Continuums for action): Policies
COVERT-OVERT RATING (several levels from Highly Covert to Highly Overt): Highly Covert
STAKEHOLDERS SERVED: Employees, Customers/Clients
Most Integrity Ideas are practical actions toward implementing a bigger WHY for the organization. “Use Tech WHYsely” is about considering WHY new technology is being adopted to ensure its use aligns with the organization’s WHY. It recognizes that while technology is not inherently “bad” and is often “good”, its use may not be the “best”. For a faithful leader leading faithfully through business a better way, we believe technology should be used when it increases the flourishing of God’s creation, particularly humans, or is necessary for the sustainability of the organization. By contrast, business as usual often jumps on opportunities to replace people and human connection with technology in order to cut costs and maximize profits, even when clearly detrimental to customer satisfaction and human flourishing. Its a WHY–just not a WHY that aligns with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities.
Integrity Ideas are specific actions a leader can consider during the Re-Align step of Integriosity®–actions that will begin to Re-Align the organization with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities.
Integrity Ideas are practical actions toward implementing a bigger WHY for the organization. We believe some are critical (and necessary) steps in the RENEW/RE-ALIGN/RE-IMAGINE/RESTORE process. Others are just ideas to be considered if they feel like a good fit based on what leaders prayerfully discern is best for stewarding the organization toward its WHY. “Use Tech WHYsely” is a principle that can help ensure decisions about the organization’s HOW get filtered through its WHY.
INTEGRITY IDEA: Use Tech WHYsely
“Use Tech WHYsely” is about considering WHY new technology is being adopted to ensure its use aligns with the organization’s WHY.
It recognizes that while technology is not inherently “bad” and is often “good”, its use may not be the “best” for an organization pursuing business in alignment with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities. For a faithful leader leading faithfully through business a better way, technology should be used when it increases the flourishing of God’s creation, particularly humans, or is necessary for the sustainability of the organization.
We believe technology serves an important role in bringing efficiency to business processes and transactions. It is hard to even imagine document production, accounting, data storage and data analysis without computers or to imagine communication without e-mail and cellphones. Online ordering and donations have added tremendous convenience and efficiency to the client/customer experience. Machines (including robots) free people from monotonous or back-breaking work.
Technology can be used to increase the flourishing of employees by helping them do their jobs more efficiently or helping them do their jobs more effectively or freeing them to focus on tasks that require their uniquely human qualities.
Technology can also bring cost efficiency that allows an organization to remain competitive, which is critical to the sustainability element of faithful stewardship. As we have said many times, profit in a business is necessary for sustainability, which means it is necessary for the Creation Mandate, which in turn means it is necessary for business in alignment with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities.
But even the most advanced AI can’t replace the human element and interpersonal connection of relationships–relationships with humans–whether between employees or between employees and customers or other stakeholders of the organization. In the words of someone who knew something about science and technology:
Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them. (Steve Jobs)
Recently, ChatGPT from OpenAI has been getting a lot of attention. Its ability to respond to queries in seemingly “human” ways is astounding–but it is not “human”. It does not “know” what it is saying. Recently we posed to ChatGPT a query central to the message of Integriosity:
Write a blog about the integration of Christian faith and business, highlighting the importance of maximizing human flourishing over maximizing profit.
The response was amazing (and included at the end of this post, together with a variation in which we asked it to address the same query in the form of a poem). In fact, some (many?) readers might like it better than what we produce, and it only took ChatGPT about five seconds (these posts take just a bit longer). It even quoted the Bible!
But we believe ChatGPT is ultimately just “information”–just digesting vast amounts of information and following rules (in a very complex and very impressive manner). Albert Einstein observed:
“Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience. You need experience to gain wisdom.“
Humans offer experience, which means we can offer knowledge and even some wisdom.
To test our hypothesis, we decided to ask ChatGPT to explain the limitations of AI. Its response was equally amazing:
AI systems like ChatGPT are impressive in their ability to process and organize large amounts of information, but they are not capable of providing true knowledge or wisdom. This is because AI systems, no matter how advanced, are fundamentally different from human beings. They do not have the ability to reason, to form judgments based on experience and evidence, or to understand complex concepts and ideas in the way that humans do.
At their core, AI systems are essentially just sophisticated algorithms that are designed to sort and categorize data. They can quickly and efficiently sift through vast amounts of information, identifying patterns and making connections that would be impossible for a human to detect. This is why AI systems are so good at tasks like image and speech recognition, where they can quickly and accurately identify objects or words based on their visual or auditory characteristics.
But while AI systems excel at this kind of pattern recognition and data analysis, they lack the ability to truly understand the meaning and significance of the information they are processing. They do not have the ability to form and test hypotheses, to evaluate evidence and arguments, or to draw conclusions based on a deep understanding of the subject at hand. In other words, they do not have the capacity for knowledge or wisdom.
This is not to say that AI systems are not useful or valuable. In many cases, they can help us to process and analyze information more quickly and efficiently than we could on our own. But we should not mistake their ability to organize and categorize data for true understanding or insight. Only humans have the ability to truly know and understand the world around us.
ChatGPT and all technology is missing the most important element of leading faithfully–heart. Unlike a human, it does not reflect Imago Dei. Unlike a human, it does not contain God’s spirit.
ChatGPT is only the second chatbot to pass the Turing test–the Turing test is essentially a test of the ability of a machine to deceive a human into thinking the machine is actually another human. When leading faithfully, it is important to recognize this essential limitation of technology generally and AI in particular.
When Jesus was tempted in the desert, Satan was able to spit out God’s word in an effort to deceive. In Revelation 12:9, Satan is called “the deceiver of the whole world“. James 2:19 warns that “even the demons believe“. When it comes to advanced technology, we need to discard the old abductive reasoning: “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.” We are not saying technology or AI is evil. We are saying that we must not allow ourselves to be deceived about its limitations or its proper role in an organization. When it comes to being “human”, the best technology can do is “deceive”.
Technology may be able to mimic people enough to take over tasks of people, but it will never take over the elements of people that make them truly human–image bearers of their divine Creator. We believe faithful leaders leading faithfully must be careful to remember the words of Steve Jobs–always seeing technology as a tool to help humans flourish and not a cost-saving replacement for humans.
The Integriosity model organizes “heart change” along six Covert-Overt Continuums. There is nothing magic about these categories, but we believe they are helpful in thinking about practical execution of a Re-Imagined Purpose, Re-Imagined Values and a Re-Imagined Culture. The Continuums are Prayer, Proclamation, Policies, Practices, Products, People.
Each Continuum represents an area in which leaders can begin to think about, plan and institute Re-Alignment changes to the heart of the organization.
“Use Tech WHYsely” is on the Policies Continuum. It is an overarching approach to how the organization implements technological advances. It points to a policy of only implementing technologies to the extent they can be shown to align with stewarding the organization toward the WHY, which for an organization pursuing business a better way is the maximization of the flourishing of creation, particularly humans, to glorify God.
COVERT-OVERT RATING: Highly Covert
The Integriosity model breaks the Covert-Overt Continuums into six gradations–from Highly Covert to Highly Overt–that we believe are helpful in beginning to pray and think about what is most appropriate for an organization at a particular moment in time.
Most Integrity Ideas will have one place on the scale. Some can vary depending on how they are implemented. “Use Tech WHYsely” is Highly Covert (an action that would be taken by a secular company), because it is something every organization should do. Every organization should test its decisions about HOW it does what it does through the filter of WHY it does what it does. Organizations following business as usual likely also try to “Use Tech WHYsely”, but the WHY is Profit as Purpose.
Of course, faithful leaders can choose to move toward the Overt end of the Continuum by explaining the WHY behind their technology decisions.
STAKEHOLDERS SERVED: Employees, Customers/Clients
When we categorize faith-based actions, we also consider the stakeholders principally impacted by the action: Employees, Customers/Clients, Owners, Suppliers/Vendors, Community and Kingdom.
“Use Tech WHYsely” mainly impacts Employees and Customers/Clients. Technology can be used to increase the flourishing of Employees by eliminating less-fulfilling tasks, helping them do their jobs more efficiently or helping them do their jobs more effectively. Technology can also be used to replace humans, eliminating opportunities for meaningful work.
Technology can be used to make Customer/Client experiences more efficient (e.g., online ordering) or it can be used to make Customer/Client experiences more frustrating and less human (e.g., replacing human customer service representatives with “chatbots”).
AI systems, no matter how advanced, are fundamentally different from human beings. (ChatGPT)
Implementing “Use Tech WHYsely” is more about awareness than any specific methodology. It is about being intentional when considering the implementation of new technology–taking the time to assess whether the technology is aligned with the WHY of the organization and putting in place policies that ensure a WHY analysis is part of any technology decision.
To do that, it is important to remember the WHY of an organization pursuing business a better way. An organization faithfully aligning its business with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities will seek to create with beauty by lovingly and generously serving people and stewarding all creation:
• Humanizing people through jobs that allow them to live out Imago Dei as reflections of a creative, productive, and relational God and use their God-given gifts to love their neighbor through service, all in a work culture of Shalom built on Biblical principles of relationships, community, and human dignity.
• Creating and providing, on a sustainable basis, solutions to challenges of human life and the economic prosperity that makes those solutions affordable and accessible, enabling families, communities and the world to flourish.
• Stewarding the business, as part of creation, in a way that keeps it viable so that it can pursue its human flourishing purpose(s) long-term and, where appropriate, at greater scale.
We believe a business a better way WHY is served by putting in place a process to ensure that the use of new technology is evaluated against questions such as:
• Is the use necessary to remain competitive and ensure the long-term viability and profitability of the organization?
• Does the use permit employees to spend more time on activities that are uniquely “human”?
• Is the use depriving people of the opportunity to do meaningful work?
• Does the use better equip employees to love stakeholders through service, particularly other employees and customers/clients?
• Does the use enhance the ability of the organization to make its solutions accessible to the greatest number of people?
• Does the use make the sale and customer service experience of customers/clients more efficient for the customer/client?
• Does the use reduce or eliminate the opportunity for human-human engagement between employees or between employees and other stakeholders?
• Can the use be justified on any basis other than cost-savings?
• Can the use be modified to enhance rather than replace human-human engagement?
Technology is not “bad” and is often “good”, but the challenge for a faithful leader leading faithfully is to ensure that any use of new technology is in alignment with God’s “best” for the organization and all the creation, particularly humans, it touches.
To examine how the analysis of leader pursuing business a better way might differ from the analysis of a leader pursuing business as usual, consider the growing practice of eliminating human customer service agents and replacing them with “chatbots” powered by AI. Customers generally do not like “robots” taking the place of humans. Just Google the term “chatbot” and you will come up with numerous articles about how people “hate” them.
A recent survey by PWC surveyed a sample of 15,000 from 12 countries to assess customer experience. Here are some of their findings:
• Nearly 80% of American consumers point to speed, convenience, knowledgeable help and friendly service as the most important elements of a positive customer experience.
• Even as technology improves and automation becomes more prevalent, most American consumers still prefer human interaction. . . . Only 3% of U.S. consumers, for instance, want their experiences to be as automated as possible.
• 71% of Americans would rather interact with a human than a chatbot or some other automated process. . . . 60% of all consumers said they’d stop doing business with a brand if the service they received was not friendly.
The same PWC study found that in the U.S. 17% of customers would stop doing business with a company or product they love because of one bad experience (32% globally and 49% in Latin America).
An organization with a business a better way WHY of loving through serving to maximize human flourishing might conclude that chatbots are just a bad idea because they replace human interaction and, in the process, dehumanize both the replaced employees and the irritated customers. Or it might look at ways to use the technology to empower human representatives and help them serve better. On the other hand, an organization with a business as usual WHY might do a bottom-line analysis to determine whether the cost-savings of chatbots exceeded the bottom-line impact of lost customers. Each a WHY analysis–just a very different WHY.
PERSONAL NOTE (from PM): Personally, I love technology. I have lived long enough to remember the evolution to some of the technologies we take for granted today:
• When I started practicing law in 1986, we did not have cellphones, e-mail or the Internet. Secretaries typed short documents on an IBM Selectric, which was a big technological advance from the typewriter because it had “memory”. Larger documents went down to the “Word Processing Department” which had a mainframe.
• When a document had to be sent overnight to multiple parties, we engaged in a massive photocopying and assembly process, preparing packages that would be picked up by couriers and delivered at great expense. Documents sent to others in New York City would be given to a team of messengers.
• My first exposure to “e-mail” was a proprietary IBM system that was transmitted electronic messages around the world internally. As a lawyer working on an IBM matter, I was given access. It was amazing to hit “send” on a message to someone in Australia and receive a response back the next day!
But I hate chatbots and automated customer service phone systems. I am reluctant to do business with any organization that does not list a phone number on their website. I am one of those people who just keeping shouting “Representative!”, “Agent!” and hitting “O” in a desperate attempt to reach a human–not a robot pretending to be human.
The ChatGPT response to the query “Write a blog about the integration of Christian faith and business, highlighting the importance of maximizing human flourishing over maximizing profit” was a follows (a huge step up from the “Eliza” chat therapist that amazed people when I was young):
The integration of Christian faith and business has long been a topic of discussion and debate. On one hand, some argue that the pursuit of profit should be the primary goal of businesses, while others argue that maximizing human flourishing should be the top priority.
As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves and to serve others. This call to serve others extends to our businesses and the way we conduct ourselves in the marketplace. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells the parable of the talents, in which he stresses the importance of using our gifts and abilities for the benefit of others.
In business, this means prioritizing the well-being and flourishing of our employees, customers, and the broader community over the pursuit of profit. This does not mean that we should not strive to be profitable, but rather that we should view profit as a means to an end, rather than the end itself.
By prioritizing the well-being of others, we can create businesses that not only serve as a source of income, but also as a source of positive change in the world. This approach can also lead to long-term sustainability, as businesses that prioritize the well-being of their stakeholders are more likely to have loyal customers and employees, and to be resilient in the face of challenges.
Furthermore, integrating our Christian faith into our business practices can also help us to make ethical decisions. As Christians, we are called to follow the teachings of Jesus and to act with integrity and compassion. This can guide us in making decisions that are not only profitable, but also in line with our values and the greater good.
In conclusion, the integration of Christian faith and business is important because it allows us to prioritize the well-being and flourishing of others over the pursuit of profit. By prioritizing the well-being of our employees, customers, and the broader community, we can create businesses that are not only profitable, but also serve as a force for good in the world.
When asked to address the same topic as a poem instead of a blog, ChatGPT replied:
In a world of endless striving,
Where success is all that’s thriving,
The faithful know there’s more to life
Than chasing wealth and endless strife.
For when we seek to serve our Lord,
Our hearts and minds become restored,
And we find true fulfillment here
In loving others and living clear.
So let us use our skills and gifts
To help our neighbors, friends, and kin,
And in our work let love abound
As we seek to serve and not to wound.
For profit is not our true aim,
But rather to bring God’s great name
To every corner of the earth,
And show the world true human worth.
So let us integrate our faith
Into our daily work and place,
And in the process, we will see
The flourishing of humanity.