3 things I learned from my remote internship

God’s work still continues during a pandemic

August 26, 2020

Washington, D.C., runs on adrenaline and 20-somethings. Young interns are always zooming from one place to another, doing their part in the running of this country. I’m one of them; but this summer, we all Zoomed a little differently.

Instead of finding an apartment, booking a flight, and showing up to the office in my new power outfit, I made the trek from my bed to my desk—less than five feet. My professional clothes hung unused in my closet, except for a jacket in case of a Zoom call with a politician. In our onboarding sessions, rather than asking where everyone comes from, we asked “Where are you quarantined?” Instead of sharing space with other interns or tagging along to Capitol Hill meetings, my time was structured into blocks on a Google calendar and squares on a Zoom call as I filed away my list of D.C. sights to explore. One afternoon, an intern joined our call from a coffee shop, and we all realized how shocked we were to see a public space open again. 

I became frustrated with myself when I couldn’t stir up the motivation to write that one paragraph or read more chapters or schedule another networking meeting. I’m a huge extrovert; I get energized when in a group, at a library, or working in a coffee shop. But doing all of this online did not give me the same energy that I would have if I were actually in D.C. Yet, I’m thankful we still had the opportunity to intern when many found their summer plans canceled. 

God’s work cannot be hindered by a virus

Rather than cancelling completely, my supervisors chose to painstakingly recreate the intern program, trying to make up for the losses of in-person interactions. I could have deferred the internship, and this was also a tempting offer. Why not wait until things get back to normal and go get my D.C. experience then? But waiting for conditions to be “perfect” would have been a mistake for me. If even the Supreme Court pushes on and still manages to hand down decisions, why shouldn’t I continue to work as well? 

I don’t know when my city will fully reopen; I don’t even know what life will be like when I move back to school for my senior year. But I do know that waiting for things to be perfectly aligned in what I envision is counterproductive. Work doesn’t halt; it simply relocates. Injustice doesn’t care that there’s a pandemic. Uyghur Muslims are still persecuted, and human trafficking victims are still in danger even when a new disease ravages the world. There are still experiences to be had and lessons to be learned even from a laptop screen in the same room every day.

Patience can fit all formats

Interning remotely meant I needed more explanation with less time to get a handle on things. It meant I got all my information through Slack and emails, which became an issue when the internet cut out as a result of being overburdened at my house. It’s hard to determine inference or how someone is really feeling, which meant my strongest people skills initially felt obsolete in this format. My internship became a time of active waiting. These terms sound paradoxical, but they perfectly describe the daily choice I had to make to work hard even when I didn’t know what would happen next. 

Every time I was kicked off a Zoom meeting due to internet issues, I tried to take a moment to breathe rather than groan and frantically click whatever I could to restore connectivity. I pushed myself to attend virtual coffee hours, game nights, and networking meetings because there are still stories to hear and friends to make. Seeing my supervisors work so hard to teach us well while also completing important work inspired me to do the same. Because others showed patience and understanding to me, I was motivated to give the same to others. This outlook of persistently pursuing connections and practicing patience turned what could have been a frustrating battle against technology into a richly rewarding internship and life experience.

God uses all situations for his glory and my benefit

An internship is not the pinnacle of this summer; it is the outflowing of a God-given initiative to discover his handiwork where it is evident and to seek biblical reform where it is not. I was taught about convictional kindness, human dignity, biblical diversity, and why I think office suits should become obsolete after the pandemic. We debated the death penalty, church culture, cancel culture, racial inequalities, tribalism, and more, but all encased with respect and care. 

These kinds of conversations can, ironically, become more productive in a Zoom setting; one person spoke at a time rather than shouting over someone else. God sent me a variety of projects to work on and amazing people to work with. He offered new connections I could make over one-on-one Zoom calls and hilarious memories related to the question of the day asked during group activities. 

That list of places to explore is still waiting for me. Someday I’ll make my way to D.C., but I’m not in charge of that decision. And that’s okay. God redirected my plans, and although difficult, he turned it into one of my best summers. I logged off my last ERLC Zoom meeting better equipped as a child of God and more knowledgeable of his work in the world. He used my doubts and the world’s uncertainty to show how he can bring good out of anything, and I am better for being a part of it. 

In his book, Onward, Russell Moore points out that our lives are an “internship for the eschaton: “Our lives now are shaping us and preparing us for a future rule, and that includes the honing of a conscience and a sense of wisdom, prudence, and justice. God is teaching us, as he taught our Lord, to learn in little things how to be in charge of great things.”

My little thing this summer was an internship. Only God knows how it will be used or what the next great thing will be. But I’m learning to seek after God’s shaping rather than enforce my “perfect” plans. 

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina Lumetta is a senior at Wheaton College (IL), studying English Writing and Political Science. She served as a public policy intern with the ERLC during Summer 2020. Read More by this Author

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24