Robotics, AI and Ethics

20-22 March

University of York, Ron Cooke Hub.

This conference explores how theology and science can address ethical challenges posed by current and future developments in AI and robotics, and discusses the role of the church in education and policy. Held in collaboration with the Institute for Safe Autonomy at the University of York, the conference programme includes research presentations, lab tours, plenary sessions and a theatre performance from Riding Lights Theatre Company.

We will hear from world-leading experts in AI technologies, scientists working on robotics in healthcare and transportation, and theologians reflecting on human uniqueness and autonomy. 



Attendance at the conference is free, and accommodation and all meals are provided. This event is for senior Church leaders, by invitation only. If you have any questions about the event, please contact:



Dr Beth Singler is the Junior Research Fellow in Artificial Intelligence at Homerton College, University of Cambridge. Her research considers the social, ethical, and religious implications in developments in Artificial Intelligence and robotics, as well as popular and religious re-imaginings of science and technology. She has been an associate fellow at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence since 2016.  In 2021 she won the Digital Religion Research Award and became a fellow of the International Society for Science and Religion.


Prof Noreen Herzfeld is the Nicholas and Bernice Reuter Professor of Science and Religion at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict, Minnesota. Herzfeld is the author of In Our Image: Artificial Intelligence and the Human Spirit (Fortress, 2002), Technology and Religion: Remaining Human in a Co-Created World (Templeton, 2009), The Limits of Perfection in Technology, Religion, and Science (Pandora, 2010) and editor of Religion and the New Technologies (MDPI, 2017).


Revd Dr Tim Kelly worked as an academic for over 25 years in the domain of high-integrity and safety-critical systems engineering.  As part of this work, he supervised projects and PhD students in the domain of Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems, including work on Artificial Neural Networks, Bayesian Belief Networks and the safety assurance of autonomous cars. In 2019 he took a ‘leap of faith’ and left behind being a full-time Professor in High Integrity Systems at the University of York to become a vicar in the Church of England, and is currently the Assistant Curate of Beverley Minster.


Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft is Bishop of Oxford and was a member of the House of Lords Select Committee on AI. He is a founding board member for the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation and Co-Chair of the Anglican Communion Science Commission.



Revd Dr Kathryn Pritchard is ECLAS Co-Director and Research Fellow. Based in the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Division at the Archbishops’ Council, she helps inform and resource engagement with science across the Church of England public policy team and parliamentary unit, the wider National Church Institutions, and Church of England bishops in the House of Lords. Her research interests include AI-Ethics and bioethics-related public discourse.


Prof John McDermid (OBE FREng) is Professor of Software Engineering and member of the High Integrity Systems Engineering Group (HISE) within the Department of Computer Science at the University of York. He is currently Research Lead for Assurance and Interim Research Leader for Society and Ethics, and became Director of the Assuring Autonomy International Programme in 2018, focusing on the safety of robotics and autonomous systems. His research covers a broad range of topics in systems, software and safety engineering.


Dr Ibrahim Habli is Principal Investigator on UKRI funded project ‘Assuring Responsibility for Trustworthy Autonomous Systems’, and is Academic Leader on the Assuring Autonomy International Programme. His interests lie in the design and assurance of safety-critical systems, with a particular emphasis on AI systems, including clinical diagnosis and autonomous/connected driving.

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Video Resources

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AI and Robotics: the science, opportunities, and challenges (all levels of clergy)

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Catholics at COP26