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Faith and Innovation 2017 Conference

February 25, 2017 @ 9:00 am - 3:30 pm


What kind of world do we want to live in?

Silicon Valley has generated innovation affecting millions of people worldwide. Today we are at the forefront of major revolutions created by innovation in emerging fields. Examples include artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, augmented and virtual reality, big data, 3D printing, wearable/embeddable/ingestible computers, neuroscience, and genomics. But what is innovation without meaning and purpose?

The 2017 conference will explore how we might find our way through the sweeping advances of innovation and technology. Drawing from ethics, spiritual wisdom, law, and philosophy, how will we create the “good life”? What are the consequences of not embracing technology with conscious intention? Join us for this engaging and question-seeking annual conference on Faith and Innovation.

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Conference Topics

  • Ethics, Innovation, and the Good Life
  • A God’s Eye View: Better Understanding our Planet Through Artificial Intelligence
  • The Importance of Law in an Era of Sweeping Technological Change
More About the Topics and Speakers

Ethics, Innovation, and the Good Life
New technologies, from digital media and surveillance to robotics and artificial intelligence, are reshaping human institutions in increasingly unpredictable ways. These technologies also transform our daily habits and practices, and through them, our individual and civic character and values. On local, national, and global scales, humanity today faces an uncertain future that demands unprecedented social resilience, civic cooperation, and collective moral wisdom in the use of technological power. Nothing less than the survival and flourishing of the human family and our planet is at stake. What skills and virtues will we need to meet the profound political, existential, and spiritual challenges driven by these new technologies, and how can we more effectively cultivate them? Professor Vallor’s lecture will draw from classical traditions of Aristotelian, Confucian, and Buddhist ethics to articulate a new framework for the cultivation of “technomoral virtues” –those qualities of moral and civic character most essential to human flourishing in the digital age.

Shannon Vallor photo Shannon VallorProfessor at Santa Clara University and President of the International Society for Philosophy and Technology Shannon Vallor’s research focuses on how rapid advances in automation is transforming human character. She explores the space at the intersection of the philosophy and ethics of emerging technologies and the philosophy of science and phenomenology. Her work is published in such journals such Ethics and Information Technology, Philosophy & Technology, and Techne. She recently published a book titled Technology and the Virtues: A Philosophical Guide to a Future Worth Wanting.

A God’s Eye View: Better Understanding our Planet Through Artificial Intelligence
Mark Johnson photo Mark Johnson, CEO of Descartes Labs 
Mark Johnson is a co-founder of Descartes Labs, a startup focused on advancing the science of forecasting with massive datasets. He is an exceptional forward-thinking leader, an entrepreneur who has brought success to many startups.  Johnson served as CEO of Zite, Inc., which he first sold to CNN in August 2011 and then to Flipboard in March 2014. Before that, he was a product manager at Bing, Powerset (sold to Microsoft), Kosmix (sold to Walmart), SideStep (sold to Kayak), and SAP. Johnson studied philosophy at Stanford University.   
The Importance of Law in an Era of Sweeping Technological Change
Too often, the news media report stories about the latest technology innovations without considering the impact of those technologies on society and the world.  How can we preserve important legal and ethical values in an era of sweeping technological change?  We may deploy and adopt new technologies, but at what cost?  This talk will help people understand how we can develop and offer new technologies, without losing our humanity.

Stephen Wu photo Stephen Wu, Shareholder with Silicon Valley Law Group 
Stephen Wu advises clients on compliance, liability, and information governance matters in cutting-edge areas of technology such as robotics, autonomous driving and unmanned vehicle systems, unmanned aerial systems (drones), artificial intelligence, haptics, human-computer interfaces, big data, data property rights, Internet of Things, augmented and virtual reality, and 3D printing.

Religious Leaders Panel
Bishop Mary photo The Rt. Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves, Bishop of the Diocese of El Camino Real
Bishop Mary’s diocese includes much of Silicon Valley. She is the author of Unearthing My Religion: Real Talk About Real Faith and co-author with Michael Perham of The Hospitality of God: Emerging Worship for a Missional Church. Both publications reflect Bishop Mary’s passion for sharing the Christian faith in relevant ways in our complex and rapidly changing world.

Robert Cusick photo Robert Cusick, Certified Compassion Cultivation Training Instructor
Robert was trained at the Stanford University School of Medicine’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. He teaches at Stanford University, UCSF, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, and many other venues. A long-time meditator and former Buddhist monk, he was ordained in Burma under the renowned meditation master, Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw. He provides grief and bereavement support for adults and children at Kara in Palo Alto. He also serves at Kara as an educational consultant and directs, teaches, and co-facilitates trainings for Kara’s Caregivers Forum and Adult Services Program. Robert is on the board of directors of the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies.

Timothy Clancy photo The Rev. Timothy Clancy, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of Honors at Gonzaga University
Fr. Tim is particularly interested in relationships, identity formation, and religious belief and practice in the virtual age (i.e. on the Internet and social media as well as in transhumanist visions of an evolving posthuman future.)

Channing Smith photo The Rev. Channing Smith, Rector, Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church & School
Rev. Channing has led the programs and people of Saint Andrew’s in Saratoga, CA for the past seven years. In addition to their pre-K through eighth-grade school, Saint Andrew’s helps support 34 local social service agencies and coordinates the Echo Shop (a resale shop in Saratoga) and Camp Saint Andrew’s (a week-long summer camp in the Sierra Nevada). He is the former rector of Transfiguration Episcopal Church. He believes that the more purpose we have with the gift of innovation, the more it will serve humanity and the greater global issues we face.

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February 25, 2017
9:00 am - 3:30 pm
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St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church-School
13601 Saratoga Ave.
Saratoga, CA United States
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