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Sunday, May 27 • 2:00pm - 2:50pm
Why Are They Spiritual Machines? AI and Religion

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Cognitive science removed the necessity for thinking about mind as an embodied soul, and replaced it with a computational theory of mind. So why is humanity so interested in making intelligent machines our spiritual companions, guides, and gods? This panel will pull together science fiction and science fact to contemplate questions of religions and machines. Are there religious motivations at work in robotics and artificial intelligence research? What should we make of literature, television, and films centered on confrontations between AIs and traditional (human) religious beliefs? What do our machines, and the stories we share about machines, tell us about the human spirit?

avatar for Phil Frana

Phil Frana

Associate Dean and Associate Professor, James Madison University
Philip Frana is an Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies and Associate Dean of the Honors College at James Madison University (Harrisonburg VA). He is currently writing a book on the history of artificial intelligence, The Past, Present, and Future of Artificial... Read More →

avatar for Michael Klein

Michael Klein

Associate Professor, James Madison University
Michael Klein is Associate Professor of Writing, Rhetoric & Technical Communication and Director of the Cohen Center for the Humanities at James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA). He teaches a course about zombies, and uses science fiction literature and film as a means of exploring... Read More →
avatar for Joe Loyacano

Joe Loyacano

Instructor and Academic Advisor, James Madison University
Joe Loyacano is an Instructor and Academic Advisor in the School of Media Art and Design at James Madison University (Harrisonburg VA). He teaches The Mind and Brain in Literature and Film, and his interests include art house cinema, film adaptation, new media writing, and the art... Read More →
avatar for Barry Luokkala

Barry Luokkala

Physics professor, Carnegie Mellon University
Barry Luokkala is a teaching professor of physics at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his BS and MS degrees in physics at the University of Pittsburgh, where he did experimental research in the physics and chemistry of the ionosphere. He received his PhD in experimental condensed... Read More →
avatar for PJ Manney

PJ Manney

author, PJ Manney
PJ Manney is the author of the P.K. Dick Award-nominated (R)EVOLUTION, book 1 in a trilogy with (ID)ENTITY, and the upcoming (CON)SCIENCE, out April 27, 2021. She also writes non-fiction and consults about emerging technology, future humans, empathy-building through storytelling... Read More →

avatar for Stacy Bruss

Stacy Bruss

Director, Event Programming, Museum of Science Fiction
Stacy Bruss, MS, MSIS, is a reference librarian at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). At NIST, she supports all Physical Measurement Laboratory researchers and manages the Innovation Hub, a center with 3-D printers, technology bar, data visualization tools... Read More →

Sunday May 27, 2018 2:00pm - 2:50pm EDT
 Woodrow Wilson D