The Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements (CenSAMM) will hold a two-day symposium (April 6 and 7, 2018) on the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) and apocalypse and a call for academic papers is now underway.

Organizers point to the stunning defeat of elite players of the Chinese game ‘Go’ by AlphaGo, which is a Google/Deepmind program. This event was heralded by AI enthusiasts as critical proof of the strength of AI technologies. Topics that will likely be discussed at the 2018 conference include assumptions about the theistic inclinations of thinking machines, the impact of the non-human on our conception of the uniqueness of human life and consciousness, representations in popular culture and science fiction, and the moral boundary-work of secular technologists in relation to their construct, ‘religion’.

Abstracts for papers are due at the end of December. Papers may be in any disciplinary field including, but not limited to — religious studies, the arts, humanities and social sciences. Organizers say that approaches could include interdisciplinary scholarship, cross-cultural and inter-religious engagement in literature and theology, history, exegesis, anthropology, social sciences, cultural studies, political theory or theology.

Dr. Beth Singler is the conference advisor for AI and Apocalypse. She is a research associate on the Human Identity in an age of Nearly-Human Machines project. She is working with Professor John Wyatt and Professor Peter Robinson to explore the social and religious implications of technological advances in AI and robotics at the Faraday Institute for Religion and Science. She is also an associate fellow at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence.

More information on the conference can be found at www.censamm.org.

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