"Except for the point, the still point, there would be no dance, and there is only the dance." ~ T.S. Eliot in "Burnt Norton"

Sunday, November 25, 2012

For years movies have been depicting robots with artificial intelligence. Some AI robots are depicted with human characteristics. The video below depicts "The Uncanny Valley", a spot where robot features become too close to human ones. 

1. Why do people get scared of robots that have AI with human features but like the AI robots with non-human features?
2. Do you believe this is true? 
3. Cartoon AI robots are considered "cute" but scientists strive to make AI robots that look very much like humans. Does this mean that we are trying to create them "in our image" like God created us?
4. Is this arrogant of us to believe we can recreate humans? 
5. Also do you believe that we will ever be able to have a fully automated robot that thinks and acts like a human would? 
6. What are the repercussions of this happening?

Please watch the video below that explains more about "The Uncanny Valley" and have fun discussing.

-Carrie W, Patrick C, and Chris S

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sins Against the Planet: Is Theology Responsible for the Consequences of Science?

Photo: An abandoned church in a mining town
 in Oregon that was deserted after the mine closed.

According to Lynn White in her article, “The Historical Roots of the Ecological Crisis,” the word ecology did not appear in the English language until 1873.  This was during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, which introduced a litany of new issues and questions into society that are still being addressed today.  At the core of these issues, we must challenge the conception that humanity has sovereignty over the Earth. According to both of the class readings, theological belief may have part in humanity’s lackadaisical attitude toward the environment. While Christianity may have encouraged a dominion of humanity on Earth I don’t think it’s accurate at say, as White does that Christianity is at the helm of the ecological crisis.  I don’t deny either that there is something to the attitude of entitlement that surrounds the ecological crisis that seems latent in some aspects of religion.  As White points out, Pagan traditions were more outright considerate of the environment while Christianity seems to put the Earth completely at man’s disposal.  That said, I think it’s important to raise the following question: Is the attitude of human dominion that theological belief (consider Catholicism especially) has encouraged responsible for the ecological crisis?  To what extent has science teamed with this aspect of theological belief in its pursuit of industrial and technological advancement?  Also consider the opposite—are scientists who are searching for ways to help the environment operating under theological ideals or are they following a moral compass devoid of religious influence? Does science need some aspects of theological belief be motivated to save the planet?