ERLC Urges President Biden to Allow Faith Leaders to Offer Input on the Ethics of A.I. Development

Milton Quintanilla | Contributor for ChristianHeadlines.com | Friday, November 12, 2021
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ERLC Urges President Biden to Allow Faith Leaders to Offer Input on the Ethics of A.I. Development


Earlier this week, The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) urged President Joe Biden to allow faith leaders to provide input on the continuing development of artificial intelligence (AI).

In a letter on Tuesday, ERLC acting president Brent Leatherwood urged Biden to “include and consult with faith leaders, including an evangelical representative, on the various committees and boards formed as part of this crucial work.”

“This would ensure that an important perspective is accounted for and represented in these monumental decisions before us as a nation and society,” Leatherwood added.

Leatherwood’s letter comes in response to the National AI Initiative Act, which went into effect at the start of the year to manage “the development and use of trustworthy AI in the development and use of trustworthy AI in the public and private sectors.”

According to the initiative’s website, it will provide “an overarching framework to strengthen and coordinate AI research, development, demonstration, and education activities across all U.S. Departments and Agencies, in cooperation with academia, industry, non-profits, and civil society organizations.”

On Wednesday, the White House issued a press release calling for input in developing a “Bill of Rights for an Automated Society.”

In April 2019, the ERLC published its first-ever, faith-based ethical statement on AI, which more than 80 evangelical leaders have since endorsed.

“The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society,” the statement reads.

Jason Thacker, the ERLC’s chair of research in technology ethics, said that AI “presents one of the greatest opportunities for human flourishing in our lifetime, but it also presents one of the greatest threats to human dignity that we’ll ever face.”

In September of this year, Thacker announced The Digital Public Square research project, which aims to help faith leaders “navigate this digital age with wisdom” and “think through some of the most complex and crucial ethics challenges to our faith with wisdom and insight.”

As reported by ChurchLeaders.com, additional plans in the project include a church resource kit on AI, which will be released next summer. Thacker, the author of The Age of AI, is also working on two books titled Following Jesus in a Digital Age and The Digital Public Square,  an academic volume he is editing with B&H Academic books.

“Faced with deep polarization across society that is only exacerbated by the ubiquitous nature of digital connectivity, it is difficult at times for Christians to know how to navigate these challenges with truth and grace. We are thankful this resource is in the works!” the ERLC tweeted in response to the second book.

Photo courtesy: ©Gerd Altmann/Pixabay


Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.