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AI and Faith Tightens its Focus to Leverage Expertise While Continuing to Build a Resourceful Community

AI and Faith’s board of six directors has been charting AI&F’s path since our incorporation in November of 2018. At a board retreat in early January, the directors, who are all Founding Experts, celebrated our terrific community of sophisticated experts and organizations in AI technology, theology, ethics, and philosophy, as well as our “channel” for voicing that expertise.

Concurrently, the board concluded that tightening the primary focus of our mission for the next phase of AI&F’s existence is essential to leveraging our network’s expertise and making a specific contribution to the rapidly expanding discussion around securing AI for human flourishing.

As one director put it, “it’s like we’ve created this great lake of talent and now we need to put it to work as a flowing river.”

The board felt strongly that a more specific mission and tighter focus will also help AI&F grow and strengthen its sustainability.

Accordingly, the AI&F board resolved at the retreat that AI&F’s mission going forward will be providing faith-informed resources to people of faith seeking to make ethical decisions while working (or training to work) in the AI arena.

We expect to do this initially by inquiring into the big issues such workers are wrestling with, the mechanisms that are available to them to engage with each other and their employers around those issues, and how AI&F can best support them.  From that inquiry we anticipate identifying strategies, practices and resources for engagement; creating faith-informed content around that learning; and providing assistance in other ways to workers through the resources and connections of our community of experts and partners.  Essentially, we anticipate a think tank model supported by the active involvement of a strongly relational network of experts. The board anticipates that it will take the rest of 2020 to secure significant outside funding to staff and carry out this revised mission and will start that process immediately.

Consistent with this mission, AI&F will continue to grow and deepen our community of experts as a resource base and guide for the work described above.  The board envisions roles for our expert community such as guiding studies; providing leadership, expert knowledge, and insight into emerging issues; mentoring; and other forms of engagement and encouragement.  The Board also recognizes the continuing value of developing and maintaining relationships with faith congregations and educational organizations where AI technologists fellowship and/or study, and for research, and education, and other engagement.

The AI&F newsletter and podcast series will continue to be vital to sustaining and giving voice to our community, by publicizing our members’ and partners’ work and promoting connections between them.  We anticipate moving to a “useletter” format that more dynamically points to additionally resources, produced as now with a volunteer staff and costs limited to technical support and funded by individual donors.

Going forward in 2020, the board seeks to engage A&F Founding Experts and supporters in two ways: first, by exploring how technology workers currently engage ethics and values as part of framing the new mission in grants applications; and second, by continuing to contribute directly to the ongoing ethics discussion and highlighting such contributions in our Newsletter, podcasts, and faith and industry conferences and programs.

We’re looking forward to having everyone jump into the flow of our new and growing “river” and continue to choose the role that best suits your interests and skills.

David Brenner

Board Chair, AI&F

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