As 2021 draws to a close, our community at AI&F has much to celebrate and a great base to build on in the year ahead.
Forming AI&F 3.0 – Introducing Eight New Fellows and Advisors
Beginning with our Founding Member strategy calls a year ago, 2021 has seen us transition from a flat member structure with only a single point of engagement to a think tank model with many new ways to engage. Our reorganized community has Research Fellows led by Research Director Dan Rasmus; Contributing Fellows and Members who operate our “Channel” for transmitting faith perspectives into the broader ethics debate over AI; Advisors who provide their expertise and connections in particular issue areas for our Fellows; and Partner organizations who provide opportunities for cross-missional engagement.
As recounted in our September and November Newsletters, almost all of our original Founding Members have moved into new 3.0 roles, and we have had many new experts join as well. This month we are pleased to announce the following additional experts who have joined in each of our categories:
David Zvi Kalman PhD (Jewish history and technology) joins our 9 other Research Fellows. David is a Scholar in Residence and Director of New Media at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America where he writes and teaches about religion and technology. He holds a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania with a dissertation on the relationship between Jewish history and the history of technology, and an MA from the University of Pennsylvania on medieval Islamic law.
Muhammad Auranzeb Ahmad PhD (computer science), is an AI&F Contributing Fellow on our Program Team. Muhammad is the Principal Research Data Scientist at KenSci, an Artificial Intelligence in healthcare-focused company in Seattle as well as an Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Washington.
W.E. King PhD joins us as a Contributing Fellow on our Communication Team and teaches core informatics courses to undergraduates in the Information School at the University of Washington. Previously, they were adjunct faculty at Portland Seminary while studying Comparative Religion at the University of Washington. Their research focuses on human experiences with intelligent technologies in relation to religion and gender, specifically looking at ways religious ideologies embedded in intelligent technologies impact multiply marginalized individuals.
Yaqub Chaudhary PhD (physics) is a former/recent Research Fellow in AI, Philosophy and Theology at Cambridge Muslim College in Cambridge, England. He joins us as an Advisor around his research interests in the fields of AI, cognitive science and neuroscience in connection with Islamic conceptions of the mind, intelligence, human reasoning, cognition, knowledge, and the nature of perception and consciousness.
Andrew DeBerry is the Head of AI & Fairness at Meta/Facebook, using emerging ML tools and AI ethics to protect vulnerable groups, fight discrimination, and build inclusive communities. Andrew joins us as an Advisor on AI/Machine learning and security and trust. He brings 16 years experience in leading cross-functional teams on such initiatives at Microsoft and Amazon Web Services before his recent move to Facebook.
Al Erisman PhD (applied mathematics) joins us as our Advisor on ethics, innovation and faith and work integration. He is the co-founder of Ethix magazine (ethix.org), exploring business ethics in a technological age. Al retired from the Boeing Company in 2001 as Director of Technology, where he led a 300-person research staff exploring innovation paths. He is also co-chair of the board for The Theology of Work Project (www.theologyofwork.org); and a founding board member for KIROS (Christians in Business in the Seattle area).
Rebekah Rice PhD (philosophy) is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Associate Dean in the College of Arts & Sciences at Seattle Pacific University and joins us as our Advisor on mind, free will and consciousness. Her areas of expertise include Philosophy of Mind and Action Theory (including causal theories of action, agent causation, and free will). Rebekah’s PhD in Philosophy is from Brown University. She was an undergraduate at SPU and also holds an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
Cathie Wood is our Advisor for innovation and finance, and the Founder, CEO and Chief Investment Officer of hedge fund ARK Investment Management LLC (“ARK”), with over $50 billion in assets under management. Drawing on over 40 years of experience identifying and investing in innovation, Cathie founded ARK to focus solely on disruptive innovation while adding new dimensions to research. Ark focuses on large-scale investment opportunities in the public markets resulting from technological innovations centered around DNA sequencing, robotics, artificial intelligence, energy storage, and blockchain technology.
Some 2021 Highlights
We’re especially proud of and grateful for the following achievements in this past year:
- Maintaining our “Channel” into the ethics debate on AI while creating our new think tank (the Institute for Faith Perspectives on AI). We are now 10 Research Fellows, 11 Contributing Fellows and Members, and 50 Advisors – in six countries on four continents.
- Creation of a four-panel AI ethics track with 15 of our Founding Members as faculty, for the February 2021 National Faith Employee Resource Group Conference organized by our Partner the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation.
- A three page essay entitled “Can Silicon Valley Find God?” by veteran long form essayist Linda Kinstler featuring a number of our Founding Members and our mission in the Sunday opinions section of The New York Times on July 16.
- Publication of a dozen monthly Newsletters with over three dozen features, adding to our already considerable web archive of features with enduring relevance. Seven Newsletters were themed on AI for Mission, Privacy, New Story Media, Truth and Disinformation, Bioethics v. Data Ethics, Future of Work, and Human Rights v. Data Ethics, to lay a foundation for further discussion of faith perspectives on these subjects.
- Completing a Demonstration Database Project collecting information on the landscape of faith perspectives on AI, statements of AI ethical principles and a taxonomy of components in such statements. This project points the way to numerous new avenues of research for our Research Fellows under the direction of Dan Rasmus and the Advisors on our Research Advisory Board.
- Building our Teams of Contributing Fellows (Content – 8 Fellows/Members; Programs – 3 Fellows; Communications – 2 Fellows; and Networking – 1) to generate sophisticated writing and speaking into the AI ethics conversation.
Some Goals for 2022
We anticipate, among other efforts:
- Funding individual and joint research projects on significant ethical issues around the development and deployment of AI-powered technologies.
- Continuing our educational work with Faith ERG leaders and members in translating faith beliefs into ethical positions and relating those positions to their employers’ corporate ethics policies on AI.
- Strengthening our communications reach and expanding it through a new communications plan, redesigned website, more frequent online publishing, social media, participation in podcasts, and presentations and panels at the major secular and faith conferences on AI ethics.
- Continuing to make connections and engage to mutual benefit with a wide range of formal and informal Partners.
Please Help us Achieve These Goals!
Please consider an end of the year fully-tax-deductible gift to AI&F to help us move forward strong on these and other initiatives in 2022. While we anticipate that volunteers will continue to provide the backbone of our work in 2022, funding one or more positions to build on our great expertise and willing volunteers will be vital to achieving our plans and potential in the year ahead. You can make your gift online here. And please contact Administrator@aiandfaith.org to speak to one of our leaders if you’d like to learn more about where funding is needed most and how you can participate more fully. Thanks so much for helping sustain our unique community and mission.