God and the Robots

I have in mind writing a non-fiction book called God and the Robots. Here’s a first look at my early book proposal.  ——————————————– In the summer of 2015, two stories were on the front page of the New York Times. The stories did not appear to be related. The first was an announcement that a group of technical luminaries – including Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking – had signed a statement calling for governments to outlaw the building of autonomous killing weapons, or so-called “Terminator” machines.[1] The other was a story about a well-meaning robot called “hitchBot” being destroyed by vandals while hitchhiking across the United States.[2] The first story was about how...

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Recent Research: Symbolic Machines

The assumption that ‘raw’ matter such as silicon, metals, and ceramics can be organized in such a manner that they can give rise to a mental state that we can recognize as consciousness, is a fundamental underpinning of the effort to create artificial intelligence. As philosopher of mind Nick Bostrom points out: Substrate-independence is a common assumption in the philosophy of mind. The idea is that mental states can supervene on any of a broad class of physical substrates. Provided a system implements the right sort of computational structures and processes, it can be associated with conscious experiences. It is not an essential property of consciousness that it is implemented on carbon-based biological neural networks inside a cranium; silicon-based processors...

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A Cyborg Eschatology: A.N. Whitehead and Post-Humanism (COMPLETE)

Cyborg Eschatology: A Process Perspective on Post-Organic Embodiment i. Environment and Actuality In Western thought, one person’s ego is often considered primary: the individual “I” is the focus of many historical Western Christian conceptions of salvation and sin. In contrast, Eastern philosophy has often emphasized a “flux” of existences which co-exist in community. As Christian influence has waned in Western philosophy, contemporary cultural thinkers like Heidegger and Derrida have spoken out of a so-called post-modern and post-sacred ethos. Yet despite the “death of God” drama, within Heidegger’s Dasein or Derrida’s “speaking subject” the Western conception of the individual’s being in the world as a matter of ultimate focus has nearly always been retained....

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New Weird Fiction, OntoTheology & Cultural Memes: PhD Dissertation Proposal

New Weird Fiction, OntoTheology & Cultural Memes — My PhD Dissertation Proposal   (In 2008, I proposed doing a PhD in theology and approaches to post-humanism. Accepted into a PhD program on this topic, but then I went to a full-time day job again.) “We are a [species] whose little children demand wearily at the end of each day, ‘Momma, tell me a story’,” novelist and theologian Andrew Greeley once observed. In fact, human beings do not merely ask for stories to explain experience, but also use the act of story-telling to structure experience itself into a comprehensible series of moments linked by time and by causation. As educational psychologists and sociologists tell us, the self is “constituted through an exchange in language.” We weave a web of...

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Karl Rahner and Post-Humanism

Symbol & Cyborg: Karl Rahner’s Theology of the Body and Post-Organic Embodiment One of the more interesting features of Karl Rahner’s influential “Theological Investigations” is that it is, at heart, a theology of symbols. In fact, Rahner writes that “die ganze Theologie, ohne nicht auch wesentlich eine Symboltheologie zu sein.” God comes to our life on earth through symbols, and we respond to the divine through the use of symbol. Today, our human interactions are increasingly articulated in electronic representation, and Rahner’s symbolic emphasis seems especially applicable. After all, all software “behavior” and “virtual” activity is essential symbolic: as many have noted, computer user interfaces are essentially composed of layers of metaphorical symbols...

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