NHNAI – a global Consortium of Catholic Universities launches a 3-year project to assess what it means to be human in context of AI and Neuroscience

NHNAI is a newly formed network of 11 Catholic universities in Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa and Asia formed to study for three years what it calls the “blind spot” in AI ethics: the question what it means to be humanwho are we and who should we be at the time of NS and AI humanism.

The Project held an organizational conference on March 11-12 at the Catholic University of Lyons, France called “The New Humanism in the Time of Neuroscience and AI”.     Our AI&F Research Fellow Brian Green attended in his capacity as Director of Technology Ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, one of the two US universities in the project.  Brian calls the conference “an amazing opportunity to meet scholars from Catholic universities on 5 continents, all brought together to think about the effects that AI and neuroscience are having on society. It was clear that AI was on the minds of most of the participants, as AI was probably the single biggest topic of discussion over the two day conference. Participants are now going to start collecting data on what various groups of people think about AI with respect to various components of life, including education, healthcare, and democracy.”

The NHNAI project is coordinated by Confluence: Sciences and Humanities Research Center at Lyon Catholic University (UCLy) in Lyons, France under the aegis of the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU). Its overall objective is “to empower all relevant stakeholders in the arenas of Neuroscience (NS) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to address the vast array of ethical issues involved in the ongoing developments in these fields.”

Here are some of the questions the project plans to explore around the challenges AI and Neuroscience (NS) raise:

  • Is intelligence not one of the defining characteristics of humans?
  • What becomes someone’s identity with respect to the technological possibilities of neuromodulation (up to the modification of subjects’ emotions and personality)?
  • Are we just machines?
  • Is it our fate to become obsolete and to clear the space for post-humans or artificial superintelligences?
  • Will NS and AI transform the very essence of humanity, and if so how, towards what?
  • What is this human flourishing that new knowledge and technologies (such as NS and AI) should serve?
  • What could this mean in the domain of AI-assisted or AI-driven decision-making?

Like AI and Faith, NHNAI seeks to mobilize experts in various fields (ranging from computer sciences and neurosciences to human and social sciences, philosophy and religious studies) in the eight countries in which its member universities are located.  It is seeking to create  communities of stakeholders to “enter into a collective effort of ethical-capacity building” around being human in the context of AI and Neuroscience.

Among its projects, AI and Faith is seeking to stir a conversation among US-based Catholic AI institutes outside of the NHNAI as part of its mission to “connect, encourage and equip” faith perspectives across organizations and groups.   It’s great to see this global, multidisciplinary effort already underway and to have a connection to it through Brian.

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