AI&F 2022 off to a great start with Andy Crouch, Trish Shaw

Five significant events launched 2022 for AI and Faith, beginning with two new Advisors joining us, each with a broad and deep reach.

Andy Crouch (Advisor for theology, technology, and culture) is one of the best-known authors and speakers in Christian circles on culture and technology; and a mentor and partner at Praxis, an organization that works as a creative engine for redemptive entrepreneurship. Andy’s writing explores faith, culture, and the image of God in the domains of technology, power, leadership, and the arts. He is the author of five books on theology and culture, most recently The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place. His next book, coming out in April, is The Life We’re Looking For: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World.  Andy studied classics at Cornell University and received an M.Div. summa cum laude from Boston University School of Theology. For ten years he was a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Harvard University.

Trish Shaw (Advisor on regulatory policy and tech ethics) is the Founder of Beyond Reach, a tech ethics consultancy in Nottingham, UK, which provides advice on AI and data ethics policy and government/regulatory affairs; designs AI and data ethics governance and oversight frameworks for corporations, industries, and other organizations; and curates and provides experts for Ethics Advisory Boards, Panels and Committees.   Trish created and coordinates the Homo Responsibilis Network of Christian AI professionals which provides regulatory commentary and other support for faith leaders in the United Kingdom and across the European Union. We interviewed Trish in our August 2020 Newsletter about this work. Trish holds a bachelor of laws degree from East Anglia University and a masters of laws from the University of Trier, as well as a number of specialized certifications.

Both Andy and Trish exemplify our Network of Networks working methodology in AI and Faith, as do the three other significant events of this month.  These events were:

  • Our Communications Team Strategy Workshop on the 25th to identify new strategies for getting the word out about the work of our experts and those in our network strategically and efficiently, making the most of all of the avenues available to us as a primarily voluntary-run organization. Outside communications consultants Laura Blank and Amy Parodi joined our Contributing Fellows for Communications Thomas Osborn (senior strategy consultant in national consulting firm Point B); Wes King (new PhD in Information Studies from UW and lecturer in the Information School there); our Research Director Dan Rasmus, and me as acting Executive Director.  Preparation for the Workshop helped us see with greater clarity the value of the numerous other networks our experts are involved in.  The Workshop led to immediate improvements in the look and feel of our existing website (take a look here!), and plans for essential tools like a media kit and content calendar that will make it easier to connect externally and internally.

 

  • Immediately before the Workshop and inspiring it was the Faith-Based Investment Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, organized by our Research Fellow Nicoleta Acatrinei through the foundation she heads there. See the News item in this issue for more information about that conference.  The big takeaway was Nicoleta’s and our AI&F shared power in convening world-leading investors like our Advisor Cathie Wood of Ark Investments; Robin John, Founder of Eventide Investment Management (for whom our Advisor Tim Weinhold has long been voicing theology of investment); and Archduke Imri of Austria whose Aliter-Invest Fund invests through a filter of Catholic theology of social justice (per the feature in this issue by Guillaume d’Alencon).  On the table with these particular investment organizations was $60 billion in capital. The audience fired up by these speakers included global faith leaders of organizations that collectively represent literally billions of people of faith.

 

  • These four events in turn provided outstanding inspiration and content for the last major event this month – our application to become the 91st member of the Partnership on AI headquartered in San Francisco. The Partnership began about the same time AI&F was incorporated in 2018 to be a diverse, global tent for discussion of AI ethics from a wide range of perspectives.  We have been in discussions with their Directors of Partners throughout this period as we grew our own expert community.  Meanwhile, three of our Advisors, Brian Green, Ann Skeet, and Thomas Arnold have played leading roles in the Working Groups of the Partnership, attending its annual conference of Partners, and keeping  us apprised of developments and outcomes.  After a year long hiatus in 2021 accepting new partners while PAI reorganized along a “connecting and equipping” model similar to our own, we learned in a conversation with PAI on Monday Jan 24th that they are again reviewing new applications. The Director of Partnerships invited us to submit one with the first opportunity for review being Friday, January 28.  All of our prior work, including the graphics  and discussion about our Network of Networks strategy in our Communications Workshop, gave us what we needed to make what we believe is a compelling case to be a key nexus between PAI and the broad world of faith perspectives on AI we represent.

Here is one of those graphics we used:

At the left and center this graphic depicts the audiences for our work at three layers – Creators (AI technologists and related professionals) on the top horizontal band; on the vertical connecting link Networks of ethicists and theologians combined with faith-oriented sophisticated technologists; and  on the bottom horizontal band Adopters (influencers, faith leaders and faith organizations). To the right are examples of Networks and Communities to which we are connected and through which we are working, roughly corresponding to each audience level.

Members of our own expert community (whether Research or Contributing Fellows, Advisors, or Partners) either lead these networks  or are connectors into them, people like Advisor Elias Kruger (AI Theology), Research Fellow Nicoleta Acatrinei with her Geneva-based global finance and faith leader network, and Partner Religious Freedom and Business Foundation’s founder Brian Grim and his leadership around the creation and growth of Faith ERGs.

Our new Advisors Andy and Trish exemplify such leadership and connections.  Andy leads a network, Praxis Labs, that redemptively empowers entrepreneurs  (top band). Andy is also an influencer (in the best sense) who writes books and articles read broadly by faith leaders and laity in the bottom band and sits on the board of Fuller Seminary, perhaps the largest evangelical seminary in the world. Andy is also on the Board of Christianity Today. Trish advises Creators through her own practice and through her roles as current Chair of the Computer Law Society in the UK and a major leader in ITech Law, a global network of technology lawyers.  The Homo Responsibilis Network of AI related professionals, ethicists and theologians Trish leads across the UK and EU provides sophisticated commentary on proposed EU regulations for the consideration of leading Christian networks there, regulations that themselves are the globe’s cutting edge.  This is content and process our AI&F members in the US can learn a great deal from as regulatory proposals here proliferate..

Wow!  What a great confluence of people and events, not just this single month of January but over all of the months and years of hard work of our whole community, including our great content creation and our reorganization effort into AI&F 3.0, that have brought us to this point of impact.  And what great things we are already seeing for 2022 like:

  • the interview series our Content Fellows Dan Forbush and Ron Roth have organized (see the first interview of our Network Fellow Levi Checketts featured in this issue);
  • the monthly “virtual Cocktail Party Salons” our Programs Fellow Gilad Berenstein is organizing – Fellows and Advisors, watch for your invitation!
  • the panels we are preparing with our Programs Team for the national Faith ERG Conference in Washington, DC, on May 23-25, building on last year’s ethics track but this year connecting faith ERG leaders directly with corporate ethicists around translating faith beliefs into personal and corporate ethics.

Here’s a challenge for February: keep that application to the Partnership on AI in your prayers, as well as an eye peeled for opportunities for us to engage across your own important networks.

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