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Short Writing Assignment #4
Case Studies at the Boundaries of Science,
Engineering and Religion: Topic #3
“Science, Engineering and Religion:
An Interfaith Dialogue”
Dr. John D. Cressler
Georgia Institute of Technology
Due Date:
Tuesday, March 7th
NOTE: We will discuss this in class
Mechanics: >2 pages but <3 pages—titled, single-spaced, 1
inch margins, 12 point Times Roman font
NOTE: you need at least 3 primary references
Topic: “Artificial Intelligence, Robots, and the Age of Machines”
Bold claims have been made for a long time now on the promise of AI. That
said, our understanding of the human brain and the way it does its thing remains
rudimentary, and machine intelligence remains quite limited w.r.t. the original
bold claims of the AI community. Still, impressive machines do exist (e.g., Deep
Blue), and e-Gadgets are transforming life as we know it. Is this a good thing?
Something to be concerned about? How does it impact our various religious
traditions, if at all?
Articles That May Be of Interest (attached):
“Brain and Mind,” from J. Polkinghorne and N. Beale, Questions of Truth, 2009.
S. Johnson, “Giving Up the Ghost?-Being Human in the Age of Intelligent Machines,” 2015.
“Your Paper Brain and Your Kindle Brain Aren’t the Same Thing,” WBEZ91.5, 1/14/16.
D. Bauder, “Teens Average 9 Hours a Day with Media,” Associated Press (AJC), 2015.
M. McFarland, “Google Just Mastered a Game That Vexed Scientists – and Their Machines
– For Decades,” Washington Post, 1/27/16.
 “IBM Develops a New Chip That Functions Like a Brain,” on-line article, 2016.
 Visit the movies “Her” and “Ex Machina” for some thoughts on this topic.
Some Relevant Questions:
 Do you think it will ever be possible for a machine to truly do what the human
mind does so effortlessly? Why? Why not?
 Does it matter whether a computer can beat the best human at chess,
Jeopardy, or GO?
 Do you think the feeling of love can ever be reduced to biochemical
processes? Why? Why not?
 Is the Turing test for machine intelligence still valid today? Why? Why not?
 Is the human mind sacred, in a religious sense? If so, it is appropriate for
humans to try and replicate it in machinery?
 Is the (exponentially increasing) infiltration of machines into modern life and
human dynamics a good thing? Why? Why not?
 Should limits be placed on the capabilities of robots as they relate to
interactions with humans? I am thinking of Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics.
Also, Skynet!
 Some futurists (e.g., R. Kurtzweil) insist that “singularity” in evolution is coming
in which humans and machines will merge. Agree? Disagree? What would
Teilhard de Chardin think of this possibility in human evolution?
 Is it possible for a machine to have a soul? Why? Why not?
 If humankind is made in God’s image, what does that say about intelligent
machines, which were conceived and realized via the human mind?
NOTE: you do not need to address all of these. Choose the ones that interest
you most and build a cohesive essay around them. Find additional
supplemental articles please.