This Week in Religion and Technology – 11/14/14

This Week in Religion and Technology – 11/14/14

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 November 14, 2014:

Religion and Electronic Media

In an average week, one-in-five Americans share their religious faith online, about the same percentage that tune in to religious talk radio, watch religious TV programs or listen to Christian rock music. And nearly half of U.S. adults see someone else share their religious faith online in a typical week. These are among the key findings from a survey conducted in May and June of 2014 that asked 3,217 adults from the Pew Research Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel whether they had engaged in various kinds of religious activities during the previous week. (Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project)

Artificial Intelligence as a Threat

Right now these artificially intelligent machines are pretty cute and innocent, but as they are given more power in society, these machines may not take long to spiral out of control. (Nick Bilton, The New York Times)

Text Messaging Project Helps Ease Religious and Tribal Tensions in Kenya’s Tana Delta

A conflict is unfolding in Tana Delta, a remote region of eastern Kenya where two ethnic communities are trading in harmful rumors, misinformation and hate speech. The heightened tensions and mistrust in the homeland of the Pokomo and Orma ethnic communities has led a Canadian-based genocide prevention organization to launch an innovative project to address the problem. (Fredrick Nzwili, Religion News Service)

In a Digital Age, Blind Faith Is Not So Blind

The digital age is having a profound impact on religious leaders’ need to be transparent. (Jena McGregor, The Washington Post)

Hashtag Activists Battle Online Anti-Muslim Speech, But #DoesItWork?

ISIS terrorist rampages, waves of anti-Muslim hate speech and fear-mongering Islamophobia are inspiring an outburst of online activism in the form of Twitter hashtags. The question is: Does it work, especially over the long term? (Cathy Lynn Grossman, Religion News Service)

What Robot Theology Can Tell Us About Ourselves

While SES, an independent evangelical school in Matthews, N.C., claims to be the world’s only seminary to own a robot (and I can’t find any reason to doubt them, unless you count Siri on all those theological iPhones), the entanglement of robotics and Christianity has a longer history than you might think. (Michael Schulson, Religion Dispatches)

All This Technology Is Making Us Anti-Social

The more things change, the more they stay the same. (@HistoricalPics)

Higher Frequency of Social Learning in China Than in the West Shows Cultural Variation in the Dynamics of Cultural Evolution

A study found that Chinese people do more social learning, British more asocial learning. Technology tends to push us to the asocial style (not based on observing and imitating others). (Proceedings of the Royal Society B)




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