In this video, Rev. Blake is interviewed by Vahid Razavi on July 24, 2019 during the Ethics In Tech event held at Fellowship Church.
More information on Ethics In Tech….
Imagine a world where technology was only used for the good of humanity…
A place where intention was as pure and unclouded as innovation – a place where artificial intelligence was only used for the sustainable, greater good of society. Imagine a world where politics, greed and scientific experimentation never compromised the ethics of the use for which technology was intended.
This is the world that one group of rebellious hopefuls is looking to create… and they are doing it right in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Composed of a diverse set of individuals from different backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, and political preferences, the once small organization – that goes by the name of “Ethics in Tech” – is making waves in a big way. This passionate group of individuals is pioneering the forefront for the ethical usage of technology by prescribing a set of boundaries to uphold the morality behind technical innovation and development.
The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, originally composed of just four members, has been hosting events in the San Francisco Bay Area, gaining momentum in their size and popularity – and hoping to give the organization a voice to the ears of tech giants like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Facebook. The nonprofit organization is looking to evangelize their experience and research so they may lend guidance to companies on the ethical usage of technology. The nonprofit specializes in coaching on issues like social equality in the modern workplace, equitable distribution of technology, and global sustainability.The company is led by the founder, Vahid Razavi, a former CEO of the technology start up, BizCloud. He is is joined by three other board members: Brett Wilkins, the founder of Moral Low ground and editor-at-large for the US news publication, Digital Journal, Bryan Caston, chairman of the board the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples in San Francisco, and digital privacy advocate and human rights activist, Cristina Deptula.
Hosting monthly events to shed light on coveted topics such as
“diminishing our environmental footprint”, “employee rights in
the digital world”, and the recently contended “ethical use of
artificial intelligence”, Razavi and his growing audience are starting to
ask some important questions: “How do we protect ourselves against unintended
consequences of AI?”, “What regard or restrictions will we have for
artificial life?”, “How will society guard against AI bias?”
(and yes, Razavi assures us it is “a thing” from his latest book, Ethics
in Tech and Lack Thereof. The group’s events definitely have the people talking,
further forcing the questions of our future society and what it will entail.
How will AI affect the way we behave and interact with one another? How has it
affected it us already? How will humans come to interact with AI machines? What
growing impact will AI have on war, healthcare, employment, society… and our
With advocates from both sides of our continued technological evolution, Razavi and his team at EIT brilliantly use non-threatening platforms such as comedy and various art forms to promote discussion on serious topics. They uniquely found a way to incite debate over items that may otherwise be controversial.
The team’s most recent event was hosted on July 24th at the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples in San Francisco. The event titled, “We Are All Ears,” helped tackle some of these hard topics. The evening hosted an agreeable blend of intellectual debate, comedy, and panel interviews which won over audience participation. The spirited panel provided thoughtful insight and direction on some of the compelling questions mentioned above, permitting controversial discussion amidst a safe setting.
Alongside two of the company’s board members (Razavi and Wilkins), the event highlighted the experience and research of two other panelists: Fiona J. McEvoy, a San Francisco-based artificial intelligence writer, researcher and thought leader and founder of youthedata.com (named one of the 30 women influencing AI in San Francisco), and Kimberly Rae Connor, professor of ethics at the University of San Francisco and Secretary of the Board for the American Academy of Religion (who holds a Ph.D. in religion and literature from the University of Virginia).
The animated debate among the panel members (as well as audience participants) appeared to be well received as it closed yielding additional material and topics to be discussed at EIT’s next event coming in December. The event concluded with a high-spirited comedic release – thanks to special comedic guests, Alicia Dattner (voted best comedian by readers of both the San Francisco Bay Guardian and SF Weekly), Will Durst (who the New York Times called “possibly the best political comedian working in the country,” and who has performed stand-up routines dating back to Razavi’s NSA Comedy Tour series), and Arthur Gaus (a San Francisco-based attorney and stand-up comedian from Cobb’s Comedy Club and The Punchline, and creator and co-host of the Maniac Bowl alt-comedy show in San Francisco).
Although the items that Ethics in Tech addressed are indeed no laughing matter, the lively, quick-witted comedians entertained the crowd by allowing everyone to let loose with laughter, and take solace in comic relief following an intense debate. Razavi (as witnessed by Wilkins), closed the event by conceding, “The comedy is here to acknowledge the fact that we can’t necessarily save the world through our meetings, but we can be lighthearted about it and still have a political discussion and a conversation around ethics and be friends.” While Razavi and his team of pioneers may not be “saving the world” just yet, they are off to a great start. At every event, they are gaining interest and raising awareness today about making the right decisions for tomorrow. In a world of uncertainty, one thing is for sure; it was a breath of fresh air to watch people of all different racial, political, and religious backgrounds unite to discuss what can be done for the common good and future of our society. If even for a moment, that feels well… ethical.
For more information, or if you are interested in donating or participating in one of the upcoming EIT events, you may go on their website at ethicsintech.com or email them at email@example.com.
About the Author…
Tara Dawn Guillot Abrams has spent several years working with and for technology companies in Silicon Valley. A self-proclaimed humanitarian, poet, and tech ambassador, Abrams is currently conducting research on the relationship between technology and environmental sustainability while finishing her Master’s Degree in Information Technology Management.