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AI Archives - Page 2 of 2 - Eve Poole

Robot Dread

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I sense a morbid fear behind our catastrophizing about androids, which I reckon is to do with a loss of autonomy. It’s true that for periods in history tribes and people have assumed they have no autonomy, life being driven by the fates or by a predetermined design or creator, so this could be a particularly modern malady in an era that luxuriates in free will. But concern about the creep of cyborgism through the increasing use of technology in and around our bodies seems to produce a frisson of existential dread that I have been struggling to diagnose. Technology has always attracted its naysayers, from the early saboteurs to the Luddites and the Swing Rioters, and all the movements that opposed the Industrial Revolution, but this feels less about livelihoods and more about personhood. Read More

Robots don’t have childhoods

By | Business, Theology | 2 Comments

I’m sitting on the beach at North Berwick, with clear views out to the Bass Rock and May Isle, watching the children play. My daughter digs a deep hole, then runs off to find hermit crabs in the rock pools. Nearby, a young boy is buried up to the neck while his sister decorates his sarcophagus with shells. On the shore, a toddler stands transfixed by a washed-up jellyfish, while two older girls struggle to manipulate a boat in the shallows, trying to avoid the splashing boys playing swim-tig.

We’re under the benign shadow of the North Berwick Law, where there’s a bronze-age hill fort, so it’s likely this holiday postcard scene has not changed much since this part of Scotland was first settled, thousands of years ago, when those children dug holes, found crabs, and frolicked in the sea. I felt a wave of such sadness, thinking forward in time. Will this beach still play host to the children of the far distant future, or will we have designed out childhood by then? Robots don’t have childhoods because they don’t need them. Humans still do, but I wonder how much time you’ve spent trying to figure out why?

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Robot Souls

By | Theology | No Comments

Sermon preached before the University of Oxford at the University Church of St Mary the Virgin on Sunday 5 May 2019

Over the centuries Oxford has been home to many influential thinkers. One whose college stands not far from here is South Park’s great Messiah, Richard Dawkins, the posterboy of the zeitgeist. He epitomises the prevailing intellectual narrative in this country, that of a secularism cured of all superstition and fancy, in the distinguished tradition of the Enlightenment philosopher David Hume. It’s so intellectually fashionable to be an atheist these days, that I congratulate you on your daring in coming here today. I mention Dawkins, because in taking up his cause I wonder whether his acolytes appreciate quite what’s at stake, in following his logic to its natural conclusion. Because those who argue that we’re nothing but an evolved species that happens currently to be in charge, have already effectively signed our species over to the robots. Read More