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POLICY DIGEST: White House holds AI briefing; FDA approves over-the-counter birth control pill

Senators, tech leaders hold White House intelligence briefing on AI

By Brandon Porter

WASHINGTON (BP) – The White House hosted its first-ever intelligence briefing for senators related to Artificial Intelligence (AI). The information shared in the July 11 meeting was classified.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sent a letter to his colleagues to invite them. Schumer said the meeting would address, “how we’re using and investing in AI to protect our national security and learn what our adversaries are doing in AI,” according to The Hill.

The meeting was led by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and other defense and technology leaders in the Biden administration.

“These briefings are a helpful and encouraging first step. They will hopefully begin to inform and equip our lawmakers on the nature of these tools, the ways they are already shaping our society, and how we might wisely respond as a nation,” said Jason Thacker, asst. prof. of philosophy and ethics at Boyce College and research fellow for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

We are at a critical moment in this age of AI. How we respond will affect not only those in our communities today but also those to come.

Thacker says it is a critical moment in the age of AI.

“We need voices from across disciplines and perspectives, including people of faith, who have valuable insight into the pressing questions we all are asking about these technologies,” Thacker said.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is the highest ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Following the briefing, he told reporter, ““The one thing I’m certain of is: I know of no technological advance in human history you’ve been able to roll back. It’s going to happen. The question is how do we build guardrails and practices around it so that we can maximize its benefits and diminish its harm,” Rubio told reporters, according to The Hill.

Messengers to the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting in June passed a resolution on AI. It is believed to be the first statement of its kind by a denomination or major religious organization.

“Nothing short of human dignity is at stake and we must respond in ways as a society that honor the value of every person,” Thacker said.

FDA approves sale of birth control pill without prescription

By BP Staff

WASHINGTON (BP) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday (July 13) its decision to allow over-the-counter sales of the birth control pill Opill. It is the first such oral contraceptive to be made available without a prescription.

In a statement on the FDA’s website, Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said, “daily oral contraception is safe and is expected to be more effective than currently available nonprescription contraceptive methods in preventing unintended pregnancy.”

The FDA’s decision, the statement said, applies only to Opill, made by Laboratoire HRA Pharma, which was recently purchased by Ireland-based pharmaceutical company Perrigo.

Opill is an older class of hormone-based contraceptives, which generally carry fewer side-effects than newer methods, The Associated Press reported.

Southern Baptists have not taken a collective stance on oral contraception since its introduction in the 1960s. They have, in a few resolutions, decried its distribution to minors.

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