AI Faith and Civil Society Commission Meeting in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi

February 2024

AI Faith and Civil Society Commission Abu Dhabi Meeting

From 27-29 February, the AI Faith and Civil Society Commission hosted their first official in-person meeting in Abu Dhabi for a 2.5-day conference with the goals of hearing from new perspectives from the Middle East and engaging with senior government officials. In addition to Commissioners, a small group of key AI experts and leaders across faith and civil society were in attendance, as well as a wider group of students, academics, and AI experts from the UAE for the opening ceremony. 

Speakers included His Eminence Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, president of Abu Dhabi Forum for Peace; Dr Omar Al Derei, Director of the Ifta Department at the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments; and Father Paolo Benanti, Professor at the Gregorian University and Pontifical Advisor on AI among many others. During the conference, participants workshopped four key values: ‘accessibility’, ‘transparency’, ‘justice’ and ‘truth’, in sessions led by one of the Commission’s experts. The conference also marked the launch of the Commission’s map, a live platform mapping organisations working at the intersections of AI, faith and civil society. Attendees then heard a presentation from Jeremy Peckham about potential gaps in research the Commission could fill.

Interestingly, the same poll used in the December conference to measure which values participants believe are most important to AI ethics yielded different results. Instead of ‘truth’, the poll showed 68% thought 'justice' was the most important value to consider. The same proportion said they were ‘an optimist concerned with long-term impact’ when asked how they would best describe their attitudes to AI. Testament to the success of the opening ceremony, a core group of participants were invited to meet the Minister of Tolerance, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubara Al Nahyan, to discuss the Commission’s work. 

During the conference, the following priorities were identified:

  1. Connecting with young people to listen to their concerns around AI;
  2. Engaging with tech companies; and
  3. Showcasing to policymakers the value of faith and civil society’s contributions to the conversation on AI.

Following the conference, the AI Faith and Civil Society Commission will establish a program of events and research workstreams to enact these goals.



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