I see advances in artificial intelligence and robotics as one of the greatest challenges that will face the human race in the coming decades. As technology advances it raises the age-old question of ‘What does it mean to be human?’, but in new and surprising ways. What will it mean it be human in a world of intelligent machines. And if the machines can take over most of the roles and tasks which we thought were uniquely human, ‘What are human beings for?’ A significant part of my work today revolves around addressing these challenges and beginning to think about how to respond to the big questions posed to us in this age of technology.
Historically, there were three types of beings — animals, humans, and machines — and they were seen as entirely separate. But the boundaries between these concepts are increasingly being blurred. Are we nothing more than machines made out of meat, as the robotics pioneer Marvin Minsky put it?
I co-lead a research project entitled ‘Human identity in an age of nearly-human machines’ at the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion. Our research focuses on examining the complex social, ethical, philosophical and theological questions posed by advanced AI and robotics and the increasingly realistic simulation of human emotions and intelligent behaviour by sophisticated software.
You can see documents, talks, videos and other resources I have uploaded on this topic below:
- Lecture on whether a robot could ever have a genuine human identity
- Interview exploring questions of personhood and artificial intelligence
- Article discussing the trends in robotics and technology in healthcare and what ethical dilemmas they throw up
- Article on AI and robotics in healthcare: ‘The machine will see you now?’
- Lecture on whether there is a difference between the human brain and an advanced robot
- Interview exploring companion robots and whether machines can manufacture true intimacy
- Talk on how Christians might respond to the coming technological revolution in robotics and AI
- Lecture on being human in an age of nearly-human machines
- Talk on how to be human in an increasingly technological world
I also regularly speak at conferences, universities and churches on this theme – have a look at my events page to find out if I am due to speak near you. If you would like to book me to speak at your event, please don’t hesitate to get in touch here.