Artificial intelligence (attitudes to, philsophy of)
Cyborgs (esp. Donna Haraway and in critical theory)
Love (ontology and ethics)
Machines (Science and technology studies)
New media (i.e. internet)
Popular culture (including secularisation)
Technology (attitudes to, theories of)
Theological anthropology (imago dei)
Current project: Living with and Loving Machines
Technologies are a constant source of wonder and anxiety for humans, and this has much to do with how they represent the ability to change, transform, and even develop various aspects of our lives and the world. At their most extreme, technologies may instigate what has been widely (and vaguely) referred to as a ‘posthuman’ future, where the human itself is irreversibly changed in that it can be genetically manipulated, prosthetically augmented, or even digitally uploaded. This future remains understudied in theology, and so this LTI project aims to contribute to our understandings by exploring how we interact and engage with machines, including the benefits and challenges of such relationships in areas extending to health, education, leisure, food, and manufacturing.
The project is led by Dr Scott Midson, whose previous research, including a PhD thesis titled ‘The Cyborg and the Human: Origins, Creatureliness, and Hybridity in Theological Anthropology’, has explored what it means to be human and to be made in the ‘image of God’ (Genesis 1:26) in an increasingly advanced technological world. In this work, it was revealed that certain assumptions about the nature of humans and technologies govern and determine our attitudes, but cyborgs may offer a way of challenging them through an emphasis on complex relationships.
Building on this, the ‘Living with and Loving Machines’ project uses ‘love’, a provocative term in discussions of technology, to explore the character of human-technology relationships in innovative ways. In theology, ‘love’ is a significant notion and can be used to refer to an array of relationships ranging from divine love to the more ‘natural’ loves including friendship, affection, and partnership. By using the notion of love to cast interrogative light on our relationships with machines, the project seeks to continue to debunk our sense of wonder and anxiety, and to encourage an engagement with technologies that is informed, reflective, and responsible.
As part of these aims, the project will host a number of events that will facilitate interdisciplinary as well as public reflection on complex human-technology relationships and the theme of love. There will additionally be an online blog that picks up on these discussions, and a number of papers and publications that emerge from the research.