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Religion and Artificial Intelligence

23 Jun, 2020

The Center for Religious Studies of the Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK-ISR) in Italy has produced a response paper on religion and artificial intelligence (AI) for the European Commission’s public consultation on AI.

Religious Freedom & Business Foundation president, Brian Grim, participated in the process. You can read an excerpt below and the full report here.

Religious or Belief Communities as Competent Interlocutors on Digital Innovation

The perspective and experience of religious or belief communities with regard to innovation should be taken into account in the framing of European policies on AI. Religious or belief communities are often portrayed as incapable or unwilling to innovate, and therefore to contribute to social innovation and to innovation in science and technology. Contrary to this stereotypical representation, the work at our Center shows that there are various examples of innovations, technological and otherwise, that have been adopted, shaped and developed by religious or belief communities, including social media, digital games, virtual reality technologies and smart community applications. We also acknowledge the impact of scientists and entrepreneurs whose work on digital transformation and AI is guided by religion or belief.

A more nuanced and context-sensitive approach to diverse religions or beliefs in society, as well as the acknowledgment of religious or belief communities as actual and potential participants in, and contributors to, innovation processes would clear the way for rightsizing (neither under- nor overemphasizing) attention to different religious or belief perspectives, experiences and concerns into AI policy debates.

We acknowledge that many of the issues that may arise from the use of AI technologies in relation to religion and belief – regarding both an ecosystem of excellence and an ecosystem of trust – are not in principle different from issues arising in other social or cultural contexts. At the same time, it is precisely because religion and belief are woven into the social fabric, and constantly interacting with its secular aspects, that we believe that investigating the implications of AI from the perspective of religious or belief communities may help understand the role and impact of AI across the wider society.