Are Robots Threatening Your Immortal Soul?

A while ago, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, theology and robots was a topic that generated a number of books and publications including the ones below:


“God In the Machine: What Robots Teach Us About Humanity and God” (Anne Foerst)

“God and the Mind Machine: Artificial Intelligence” (John C. Puddefoot)

Now it looks like that discussion is getting a new lease of life: See Apocalypse NAO: Are Robots Threatening Your Immortal Soul? | Popular Science

“When the time comes for including or incorporating humanoid robots into society, the prospect of a knee-jerk kind of reaction from the religious community is fairly likely, unless there’s some dialogue that starts happening, and we start examining the issue more closely,” says Kevin Staley, an associate professor of theology at SES. Staley pushed for the purchase of the bot, and plans to use it for courses at the college, as well as in presentations around the country. The specific reaction Staley is worried about is a more extreme version of the standard, secular creep factor associated with many robots.

“From a religious perspective, it could be more along the lines of seeing human beings as made in God’s image,” says Staley. “And now that we’re relating to a humanoid robot, possibly perceiving it as evil, because of its attempt to mimic something that ought not to be mimicked.”

Thanks to Nanogirl (@medickinson) (Passionate scientist/engineer/kitesurfer & regular @firstlineNZ science TV slot. Run a nano mechanical lab. My TEDx talk: http://t.co/cw9On1JVgN) for the link.

Robot babies

IEEE Spectrum has a new chart up of different robots the mimic human babies and children in various ways (on capabilities vs. appearance axes). See IEEE Spectrum: Invasion of the Robot Babies (Infographic) for that and some other interesting links on humanoid robotics.

Of course, if you have time and access to the DVD, a good robot baby movies can be found in Robot Stories. Trailer below

Robots Teach Korean Students English

Interesting article over at Robots Teach Korean Students English – Robots – io9 on the deployment of 1000s of robot language teachers to assist in the learning of English in South Korean schools and pre-schools.

I’m wondering why they’ve embedded this approach in a humanoid form, rather than through an animated avatar on the cellphone for example. Perhaps the physical presence of the robot creates a kind of relationality (e.g. authority figure) that a computer application couldn’t do?

Robot fish – wow!

This looks interesting – really big robot fish being used as sensing devices. Shades of Stingray, perhaps?

See Robot fish detects pollution – technology | Stuff.co.nz.

For those of you who missed out on Stingray in your childhood, here’s a link to the TV show’s title sequence. (Always had a soft spot for ‘scifi’ submarine/underwater shows like Sealab 2020, Man from Atlantis, Stingray and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Though, somehow really didn’t get into seaQuest DSV)