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Biden meets with AI panel, Southern Baptist ethicist calls on continued policy work

President Joe Biden hosts a meeting on Artificial Intelligence, Tuesday, June 20, at The Fairmont hotel in San Francisco. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

SAN FRANCISCO (BP) – President Biden met with tech leaders Tuesday (June 20) to discuss the rewards and risks of artificial intelligence (AI). He believes there will be more technological changes in the next 10 years than there has been in the last 50 years. 

“AI is going to change the way we teach, learn and help solve challenges like disease and climate change … giving the time to focus on the things that matter most to you personally,” Biden said.

The president acknowledged risks related to the new tech. He said his administration “is committed to safeguarding America’s rights and safety, from protecting privacy, to addressing bias and disinformation, to making sure AI systems are safe before they are released.”

One researcher hopes that protections will also focus on faith and related ethics when it comes to AI.

In written comments to Baptist Press, Jason Thacker pointed back to language in a resolution adopted by messengers to the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting. “We must not only proactively engage these emerging technologies but do so rooted in light of the unique nature and moral responsibility that God has bestowed upon us as His image bearer,” he said.

Thacker is an assistant professor of philosophy and ethics at Boyce College and a research fellow with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. The resolution is the first known public stance on artificial intelligence taken by a religious denomination or religious body.

“Both the opportunities and dangers ahead of us with AI require an ‘all hands-on deck’ approach, which is going to require civil, industry and government leaders to partner across society as we navigate these tools and how they are already shaping our world,” Thacker said.

The resolution calls on leaders to be proactive, saying: “… [W]e call upon civic, industry, and government leaders to develop, maintain, regulate, and use these technologies with the utmost care and discernment, upholding the unique nature of humanity as the crowning achievement of God’s creation.”

On Tuesday, Biden spoke of how his administration had already taken steps.

“Social media has already shown us the harm of powerful – that powerful – powerful technology can do without the right safeguards in place. That’s why I said at the State of the Union that Congress needs to pass bipartisan privacy legislation to impose strict limits on personal data collection, ban targeting advertising to our children, and require companies to put health and safety first,” Biden said.

Thacker hopes they will continue their work and expand the scope.

“We urge this administration and leaders around the world to include people of faith in these conversations as well given how these technologies affect all of us and how people of faith bring a unique perspective to these fundamental questions posed in our digital age,” he said.

    About the Author

  • Brandon Porter

    Brandon Porter serves as Associate Vice President for Convention News at the SBC Executive Committee

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