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Dreaming Electric Sheep

Jason Hiner's blog on IT, emerging technologies, and the expanding sweep of the information age (the title of the blog is a nod to Philip K. Dick's classic sci-fi novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep")

Thursday, April 14, 2005
A theologian who loves robots?
I was quite impressed with this interview of theologian Anne Foerst. It turns out that Ms. Foerst is not only a ground-breaking thinker in religious and theological fields, but has also had a life-long fascination with technology and robots. She is particulary interested in artificial intelligence, the human fascination with it, and what it says about human beings. In fact, Ms. Foerst believes that AI is essentially a spiritual quest and that it says something profound about humans' relationship with God -- that may be a but of a stretch but it's a well-thought out and interesting argument to read.

I particularly liked when Ms. Foerst explained her interest in theology. She said, "I got hooked on theology because I just think this is the most interesting field when you want to learn about human ambiguity and human frailty--the fun stuff to being human." That approach, and the fact that she has shown such sincere interest in robots and AI, is probably what has made people like MIT's Rod Brooks, an AI guru, willing to speak with her and take an interest in her research.

This interview has made me consider taking a look at Foerst's book God in the Machine: What Robots Teach Us About God and Humanity. She appears to have some fresh and interesting arguments about technology and ethics that are worth considering. 

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