The Catholic Church in Fiji has called on Fijians to be mindful of the potentially negative effects of artificial intelligence.

Archbishop Peter Loy Chong words came in his New Year’s Message, where he said human dignity and peace are paramount for everyone.

Artificial intelligence (AI) went mainstream in 2023 — it was a long time coming yet has a long way to go for the technology to match people’s science fiction fantasies of human-like machines.

Catalyzing a year of AI fanfare was ChatGPT. The chatbot gave the world a glimpse of recent advances in computer science even if not everyone figured out quite how it works or what to do with it.

AI large language models behind technology such as ChatGPT work by repeatedly guessing the next word in a sentence after having “learned” the patterns of a huge trove of human-written works. They often get facts wrong. But the outputs appeared so natural that it sparked curiosity about the next AI advances and its potential use for trickery and deception.

Chong said he believes there is a need for families to establish guidelines in their homes to allow for human relations.

“If we are passive recipients of artificial intelligence, then we are losing the creativity that God has implanted in us, and that is not good for humanity,” the Fijian archbishop said.

“So the pope alerts us to be awake and to teach our children how to use artificial intelligence properly in the digital world and social media,” he continued.

In the middle of December, Pope Francis called for an international treaty to ensure artificial intelligence is developed and used ethically, arguing that the risks of technology lacking human values of compassion, mercy, morality and forgiveness are too great.

Francis acknowledged the promise AI offers and praised technological advances as a manifestation of the creativity of human intelligence, echoing the message the Vatican delivered at this year’s U.N. General Assembly where a host of world leaders raised the promise and perils of the technology.

But his new peace message went further and emphasized the grave, existential concerns that have been raised by ethicists and human rights advocates about the technology that promises to transform everyday life in ways that can disrupt everything from democratic elections to art.

In March 2023, a picture showing the pope in a stylish white puffer jacket and silver bejeweled crucifix went viral on the internet.

The picture, first published on Reddit, was an artificial intelligence rendering generated using the AI software Midjourney.

The dangers of AI could come fast in 2024, as major national elections in the U.S., India and elsewhere could get flooded with AI-generated deepfakes.

The Fijian archbishop said the use of AI is something that Fiji should seriously reflect upon in the new year.

“Like Mary pondering and reflecting on everything that is happening in the world, whatever gift that God gives to us, whether it is technology or artificial intelligence, we will make sure that we use them to promote human dignity and peace,” Chong said.

This article uses material from the Associated Press.