Getting Up to Speed on AI and Theology

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Professor Noreen Herzfeld has spent her career working at the intersection of ethics, technology, and religion. She engages such diverse topics as cyberspace as a venue for spiritual experience, embodiment as a sine qua non for personhood, and the religious implications of computer games.

Her earlier book, In Our Image: Artificial Intelligence and the Human Spirit, sets the framework for discussions of AI by engaging with the key theological questions AI raises about what it means to be truly human through the lens of the imago dei.

Her more recent book, The Artifice of Intelligence: Divine and Human Relationship in a Robotic Age acts as both an introduction of the theological landscape around these issues and extends the thoughts of her prior work. The book engages with Karl Barth’s relational understanding of the imago Dei in pursuit of answering two questions in particular: Is it possible for human beings to have authentic relationships with an AI? How does the increasing presence of AI change the way humans relate to one another? In this recent interview with Sojourners, she describes the volume as “a book to help priests, bishops, and interested laypeople get up to speed on conversations about AI, specifically any questions and concerns there may be for Christians.”

To get a better sense of the book, this review provides a solid summary of the main points. And if you prefer to listen to a lecture, this one is based on the book and fairly extensive.

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