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Artificial Intelligence: Implications for Ethics and Religion

January 30

“Artificial Intelligence: Implications for Ethics and Religion” is an exciting one-day conference to be held on January 30, 2019, at Union Theological Seminary (UTS) in New York, in conjunction with the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS), The Riverside Church, and the Greater Good Initiative. 

New technologies are transforming our world every day, and the pace of change is only accelerating. In the coming years, human beings will create machines capable of out-thinking us and potentially taking on such uniquely-human traits as empathy, ethical reasoning, perhaps even consciousness. This will have profound implications for virtually every human activity, as well as the meaning we impart to life and creation themselves. This conference will provide an introduction for non-specialists to Artificial Intelligence (AI): What is it? What can it do and be used for? And what will be its implications for choice and free will; economics and work-life; surveillance economies and surveillance states; the changing nature of facts and truth; and the comparative intelligence and capabilities of humans and machines in the future? Leading practitioners, ethicists, and theologians will provide cross-disciplinary and cross-denominational perspectives on such challenges as technology addiction, inherent biases and resulting inequalities, the ethics of creating destructive technologies and of turning decision-making over to machines from self-driving cars to “autonomous weapons” systems in warfare, and how we should treat the suffering of “feeling” machines. The conference ultimately will address how we think about our place in the universe and what this means for both religious thought and theological institutions themselves.