This is the Home Page for the AI and Religion Research Seminar. We are a seminar conducted through the American Academy of Religion and meet yearly at their Annual Meeting. The Seminar is co-chaired by Drs. Randall Reed and Tracy Trothen. If you have questions or interest in the work of the seminar please feel free to contact the co-chairs at reedrw at appstate.edu. As news about the seminar or papers from the seminar become available we will publish them here. Keep an eye on the site for further updates. Also join the discussion forum for the site.
The Artificial Intelligence and Religion Seminar has two sessions at AAR 2019 in San Diego. They are back-to-back sessions. So mark your calendar/programs:
Artificial Intelligence and Religion Seminar Theme: Surveying the Landscape
Monday, 3:30 PM–5:00 PM
Hilton Bayfront-Aqua E (Third Level)
Randy Reed, Appalachian State University, Presiding
Joshua Urich, Trinity University-San Antonio
“He Was Only a God:” Sherlock Holmes and the Origins of an ASI Church
David Zvi Kalman, University of Pennsylvania
Artificial Intelligence and Jewish Thought: A Roadmap
Justin Hawkins, Yale University
“The Most Terrifying Thought Experiment of All Time:” Roko’s Basilisk, Antinatalism, and the Pascal ’s Wager of Creating the Singularity
Beth Singler, University of Cambridge
“Blessed by the Algorithm”: Theistic Conceptions of Artificial Intelligence as Entanglements of AI and Religion
Pamela Eisenbaum, Iliff School of Theology, Micah D. Saxton, and Theodore Vial, Iliff School of Theology
AI, Anima and the Uncanny
Takeshi Kimura, University of Tsukuba
Artificial Other and Natural Other: When a Human Meets A.I.
Artificial Intelligence and Religion Seminar Theme: Experiments in Artificial Intelligence and Religion
Monday, 5:30 PM–7:00 PM
Hilton Bayfront-Aqua E (Third Level)
Philip Butler, Loyola Marymount University, Presiding
F. LeRon Shults, University of Agder, and Wesley J. Wildman, Boston University
Simulating Secularities: Studying Religion and Nonreligion in Artificial Societies
Emanuelle Burton, University of Illinois, Chicago, and Thomas Arnold, Tufts University
Strangers in a Strange Land: A Field Report from Two Religion Scholars Working in AI
Randy Reed, Appalachian State University
A.I., and Religion, A.I. in Religion, A.I. for Religion: A.I. as a Tool for Religious Studies
Nathan R. B. Loewen, University of Alabama
Analyzing Philosophy of Religion Journals via Digital Humanities: Plotting Futures for the Field
I’d like to highlight the various contributions to the seminar. This particular one written by Pamela Eisenbraun, Micha D. Saxton and Ted Vial is interesting. They developed a web site in particular to show their presentation.
See it here at https://iliff.github.io/aar-presentation-2019/
AAR Members – You can read the full papers from the AI and Religion Seminar. The Seminar posts the papers ahead of time so that we can spend the majority of time in discussion. You can find them here:
Justin Lane has a response to the podcast on the religious studies project page about the attempt to analyze and in some sense resurrect a Danish theologian Grundtvig through A.I. Lane argues that perhaps what A.I. could really resurrect is Religious Studies in general, noting the discrepancy between interest in A.I. and Religious Studies as charted on Google N-grams. Certainly, we applaud this impulse, and the Grundtvig project represents an interesting approach. In 2018 I watched Mark Graves demonstrate a chatbot trained on the writings of Thomas Aquinas (in translation) that could reproduce Aquinas-like language. Though at that point the chatbot quickly degenerated into Aquinas-sounding nonsense. Still, with the immense progress made by GPT-2, it is only a matter of time until we see more credible versions of these sorts of chatbots.
The University of Alabama has an open search for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in Social Theory and the Digital Study of Religion.
The Religious Studies Project occasionally dips into Artificial Intelligence. The October 7th Podcast is another example of that. Entitled “When Archive Meets A.I. — Computational Humanities Research on a Danish Secular Saint” An interesting use of A.I. to resurrect a personality from the past. Listen here