Research Project No.14: Professor John Wyatt and Professor Peter Robinson
Project title: ‘Human identity in an age of nearly-human machines – the impact of advances in robotics and AI technology on human identity and self-understanding’
The goal of this research sub-project is to explore the theological, social and philosophical implications of recent developments in robotics and AI technology for secular and religious understandings of human nature and identity. Of particular interest and concern is the development of humanoid robots whose appearance, motor behaviour and responsiveness are becoming virtually indistinguishable from human beings. In addition, new technical developments provide increasingly realistic simulation by AIs of human compassion, empathy and emotional intelligence. These developments raise urgent and profound questions and challenges for human self-understanding. To date there has been very little genuinely multidisciplinary and informed debate about these issues. The current sub-project aims to address the implications of these developments using an academically rigorous and structured approach. In particular we will investigate whether there is a genuine convergence and blurring of human/machine abilities and behaviour and if so whether this is like to lead to fundamental changes in common social and religious understandings of what it means to be human.
This project formed part of ‘The Science of Human Flourishing’ project – Concluding Summary