Casting Lots, Gambling, and Artificial Intelligence

  • Kent T. Saunders
  • Larry G. Locke


Casting lots was widely practiced in the ancient Near East as a method for making decisions. In the Bible, casting lots was a common method to determine the will of God when allocating land, determining duties, assigning guilt, selecting individuals for responsibility, and other matters. Additionally, there are instances in the Bible where the use of lots can be seen as an unbiased random allocation method or, possibly, an act of gambling. How might this ancient, biblical practice inform the modern use of artificial intelligence in business decisions? The authors begin with an exegesis of casting lots in the Bible, particularly on the question of whether casting lots was a form of gambling. The authors then compare the biblical practice of casting lots with the use of artificial intelligence in business decision-making. The authors argue that neither practice may fairly be defined as “gambling” of the kind forbidden by different Christian traditions. The authors identify a common ethical issue for casting lots and the use of artificial intelligence—the surrender of control over a decision, resulting in the potential to transfer moral responsibility for that decision. While the authors accept that casting lots resulted in a transfer of moral responsibility, they conclude that using artificial intelligence should not similarly allow for a surrender of moral responsibility.