The month of April saw AI and Faith’s work reflected in a national publication when Christianity Today solicited comments from some of our Founding Members in the course of reporting on the new position titled Artificial Intelligence: An Evangelical Statement of Principles which was issued on April 11 by the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Commission.
To our knowledge, this is the first ever statement of AI “best practices” by a particular Christian denomination. It received coverage with a favorable tone in Slate, as well as attention in a considerable range of other secular publications.
The statement stakes an early claim for a seat at the AI ethics table for thoughtful Christians,” said David Brenner, an attorney and founding member of the group AI and Faith. He calls the ERLC’s action “a pioneering move. “The statement demonstrates how religious belief brings a systemic and holistically grounded approach to the ethics discussion, rather than the ‘one-off’ considerations of what is right and fair that we have seen in the recent lurchings of Facebook and Google.”
The main drafter of the ERLC’s statement is Jason Thacker, with whom some of our members connected around the “UnConference on Faith and Technology” organized by AI and Faith Founding Member Michael Paulus at Seattle Pacific University in early December of last year. Although Jason was ultimately unable to attend the UnConference, our email communications developed into an ongoing connection and opportunity for our Founding Member Tripp Parker to review a late-stage draft of the Principles. Tripp, and Founding Members Michael Paulus and David Brenner, were all quoted in the Christianity Today article, to the general effect that this is a solid start for further dialogue with nuanced consideration of particular issues viewed through a variety of interpretive religious lenses.
Jason is authoring a book on AI and Christian belief for Zondervan, with a projected publication date in early 2020. We are looking forward to deepening this connection and sharing our collective ties with other signatories and commentators on the Principles.