Dr. Anthony Pinn sits down with Dr. Philip Butler, Assistant Professor of Theology and Black Posthuman Artificial Intelligence Systems at Iliff School of Theology, to discuss the ways artificial intelligence is understood and misunderstood, how our own human intelligence can make the best current and future use of this tool, and how a Black A.I. is pushing back on bias.


PHILIP BUTLER: If an AI sounds like a Black person, because it’s made by a Black person, it probably is a Black AI. And given that the majority of our baseline, the personal assistants like Siri or Alexa, are white and female already, there’s already a racial and gender bias component to artificial intelligence… This became important to me because part of the transhumanist kind of trajectory is to do away with race. One of the claims is that human biodiversity is not important, and we can all kind of band together under one banner of progress. But again, we’re leaving behind cultures, leaving behind the specific wisdoms that come from locales by privileging one particular one over all the rest.

I think it’s important for not only Blackness to be brought into this digital AI space, but also all the other iterations of the global majority. Because again, we cannot leave behind the wisdoms that come from these cultural spaces and the bodies that inhabit them.

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Anthony Pinn

Anthony Pinn is one of the foremost scholars of African American humanism, author of more than 20 books, and the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University.