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National Faith ERG Conference Produces Great New Conversations and Connections

300 leaders of Faith Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and related organizations attended the third National Faith ERG Conference at Catholic University in Washington DC on May 23-25.  AI and Faith had a major presence with six members of our expert community participating as panelists.  Our Advisor Cathie Wood, the CEO and Founder of Ark Invest, closed the conference as final keynoter with a rousing defense of the value of stewarding investment in technology for human flourishing.  Along the way, we gained much more insight into how these substantial groups of faith-oriented employees are moving to address important social challenges like human trafficking while internally promoting care for their fellow employees.  We also made dozens of new connections for AI and Faith among the many attendees engaged with creation and deployment of AI-powered technologies.

Our two panels on the third and final day of the conference discussed The Role of Faith and Beliefs in the Development of Ethical AI and Working Cross Culturally and Cross Borders at Scale to influence creation and uptake of good technology.  The panels not only educated the substantial audiences of about 75 conference participants around these issues but provided great new connections between the panelists themselves and with conferees in follow-up conversations.

AI and Faith experts at the conference and presenting in the panels were:

  • Advisor Andrew DeBerry, 16 year AI veteran who has led AI trust and security initiatives in leading tech companies including Microsoft, Amazon, and is currently Lead at Meta for Responsible AI Product Marketing and Strategy.
  • Advisor Joanna Ng, IBM Master Inventor and pioneering AI researcher
  • Research Fellow Nicoleta Acatrinei, working with international empowerment grants and in faith-based investing in Geneva, Switzerland
  • AI&F Contributing Fellow William Barylo, a post-doctorate researcher at the University of Warwick studying the impact of AI and technology on Muslim communities.
  • Marsie Sweetland, founder of Equinix’ ERG FaithConnect, who chaired the first panel and has also just joined AI&F as our key Advisor around the Faith ERG world
  • Board Chair David Brenner, who chaired the second panel.

Outside panel members not yet a formal part of AI and Faith’s community were:

  • Kaladhar Voruganti, Equinix Senior Fellow in the Office of the CTO
  • Brendan Newell, Microsoft Cybersecurity Architect,  who described his role in  discussions related to The Rome Call Statement on AI and Ethics, and on a Microsoft sponsored AI-guided African irrigation service project
  • Ingrid Vanderveldt, founder of Empowering a Billion Women, which is working globally through imaginative use of connecting technology
  • Jeannice Fairrer Samani, an AI tech consultant in Silicon Valley with extensive experience advising for profit and nonprofit organizations nationally and internationally
  • Chris Hsu, senior software engineer at Google active in the Google Interfaith Network
  • Sean Koh, CEO of Koherent Corporation and an expert in cross-border transactions in finance, technology, infrastructure, media, and entertainment.

We are grateful to our partner Religious Freedom and Business Foundation and its two great leaders, Brian Grim and Kent Johnson, for once again affording us the opportunity to provide an ethics track for this vital conference.  Our experience abundantly reinforced the great opportunities presented by these groups for transforming corporate culture concerning wise creation and deployment of beneficial technologies.

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