Are We Using Technology, or Is Technology Using Us? That’s the fall focus of the Sinai and Synapses Discussion Forum. Each week, we’ll gather some of the most interesting articles on the topic from across the online world. We hope they make you think — and share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.
Here’s the news from the week ending December 5, 2014:
Religious fundamentalism seems to have some influence on believers’ attitudes toward humanoid robots, according to research by Karl MacDorman, an associate professor of human-computer interaction at Indiana University in Indianapolis, and Steven Entezari, a Ph.D. student at Indiana University. MacDorman and Entezari’s study of almost 500 college students found that religious fundamentalists tend to view human-like robots as being more creepy overall. (Jeremy Hsu, Lovesick Cyborg, Discover)
Stephen Hawking, one of Britain’s pre-eminent scientists, has said that efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence. He told the BBC: “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” His warning came in response to a question about a revamp of the technology he uses to communicate, which involves a basic form of AI. But others are less gloomy about AI’s prospects. (Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC News)
A Kantian response to the question of artificial intelligence. Would the categorical imperative apply to our responses to technology: are humans an end unto themselves, or a means to creating higher technology life? (Paul Louis Metzger, Uncommon God, Common Good, Patheos)
“In the history of organized religion, it’s often been the case that people have been disempowered precisely to serve what was perceived to be the needs of some deity or another, where in fact what they were doing was supporting an elite class that was the priesthood for that deity. … That looks an awful lot like the new digital economy to me.” (Edge)
The words you use in your Facebook posts reveal much about your personality, according to psychologists Gregory Park and colleagues in a new study just published. Based on a study of 71,000 Facebook users who reported their personality using an app, Park et al. found some quite unexpected words to be associated with given personality traits. (Neuroskeptic, Discover)