Congratulations to AI&F Research Fellow and Board Member Gretchen Huizinga on the successful defense of her PhD thesis on Thursday, June 2, at the University of Washington. Her dissertation was titled Righteous AI: The Christian voice in the Ethical AI conversation, and was based on 21 interviews with leading Christian AI technologists and related professionals with knowledgeable perspectives on AI ethics. The purpose of her research was to explore how Christian teaching, texts, and traditions might make a valuable contribution to the discussion of Ethical AI. The goal was not to replace other voices but to add a missing perspective and bring viewpoint diversity to the conversation and the literature. Gretchen’s committee was chaired by Dr. Stephen Kerr and included Dr. Walter Parker from the University of Washington College of Education, along with legendary UW Computer Science professor Dr. Edward Lazowska, and Dr. Jim Wellman, the Chair of Comparative Religion in the Jackson School of International Studies and an advisor to AI&F.
Gretchen’s analysis and findings ‘suggest that worldview (both implicit and explicit) informs every aspect of our approach to Ethical AI. While materialist thought seeks to compel humans to be good without transcendent reason or power, the Christian faith speaks clearly about the role of God as originator, motivator, and sustainer of human moral behavior. Christianity compels us to look beyond a humanistic idea of ethics and toward a creative notion of goodness that cannot be accomplished by our own will and power. This study adds critical insights to the field of AI ethics by deepening awareness of how faith in and fear of God could influence how artificial intelligence is designed and implemented. When Christian wisdom is included in every phase of AI development, we begin to think beyond a minimum-standard culture of Ethical AI and move toward a robust culture of Righteous AI.’
Before writing her thesis, Gretchen worked for three years at Microsoft as the producer and host of the Microsoft Research Podcast. Currently she is a principal investigator and podcast host for the Beatrice Institute’s project Being Human in an Age of AI.