Forward Together Breakout Session: Artificial Intelligence

Panelists discuss their work engaging with religious communities about artificial intelligence in ways that respect diverse worldviews, including religious and spiritual beliefs. DoSER's 25th Anniversary, June 2021.

This session was hosted as part of the 2021 virtual 25th Anniversary event, “Forward Together: Where Science, Ethics, and Religion Intersect in a Changing World.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly a part of our daily life, which means forefront research in this field has significant societal implications. Panelists explored current advances in AI, the positive and negative implications, and engagement opportunities for the general public and religious communities in these discussions.

How has this dialogue changed our understanding on AI, and what does the future hold?

Forward Together, June 2021

Speakers and Moderator

Headshot of a Black man in a grey jacket

Philip Reed Butler, Assistant Professor of Theology and Black Posthuman Artificial Intelligence Systems, Iliff School of Theology

Dr. Philip Reed Butler is the Assistant Professor of Theology and Black Posthuman Artificial Intelligence Systems at Iliff School of Theology. He brings an excellent teaching resume and cutting-edge scholarship that combines Black liberation theologies, neuroscience, spirituality and technology, particularly artificial intelligence. He is also the founder of The Seekr Project, which is a distinctly Black conversational artificial intelligence with mental health capacities, combining machine learning and psychotherapeutic systems. In addition to his publications in the field of theology, philosophy, and science, Dr. Butler is the author of Black Transhuman Liberation Theology: Technology and Spirituality, in which he investigates what might happen when Black people utilize technological advancements to enhance both Black spiritualities and Black bodies in the struggle of materializing liberating realities.

J. Nathan Matias in an acoustic chamber, smiling at the camera

J. Nathan Matias, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Cornell University

Dr. J. Nathan Matias organizes citizen behavioral science for a safer, fairer, more understanding internet. A Guatemalan-American, Nathan is an assistant professor in the Cornell University Department of Communication and is the founder of the Citizens and Technology Lab, a public-interest research group at Cornell that organizes citizen behavioral science and behavioral consumer protection research for digital life. From 2017-2019, he was an associate research scholar at Princeton University in Psychology, the Center for Information Technology, and Sociology. He also spent several years as a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. In 2017, Nathan completed his Ph.D. at the MIT Media Lab with Ethan Zuckerman on the governance of human and machine behavior in an experimenting society. Nathan has worked in tech startups that have reached hundreds of millions of phones, helped start a series of education and journalistic charities, and studied English/postcolonial literature at the University of Cambridge and Elizabethtown College. His writings have appeared in The Atlantic, PBS, the Guardian, and other international media.

Curtis L. Baxter III

Curtis Baxter, Senior Program Associate, AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion Program

Curtis L. Baxter III is a Senior Program Associate at the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program, working primarily on DoSER’s Science for Seminaries project, which aids seminaries in integrating forefront science into their core curriculum. After finishing his BA in religious studies and a minor in biochemistry, Curtis earned a Master of Theological Studies degree from Wesley Theological Seminary. His focus while in seminary was ethics, historical and public theology. Curtis is passionate about all things at the nexus of faith and the public square. Previously, he worked with various organizations that facilitate constructive conversations between people of faith and their communities on important issues.

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