Articles  |    |  January 1, 2017

Robotics and AI in the sociology of religion: A human in imago roboticae

Peer-reviewed article by Takeshi Kimura.
Published in Social Compass.


The next-generation of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) sets a new horizon of inquiry into the obvious and hidden significances of the secular techno-society. By incorporating the perspectives of STS (Science, Technology and Society) into the sociology of religion, this article attempts to explore the social-religious significance found in the emerging relationships between the human and Robotics and AI. By referring to several cases of Robotics from Japan and the US, this article examines three versions of the relationship, namely, the physical, the social and the psychological. Several concrete cases are referred to for each aspect: the robot suit, the robotic arm, and BMI (Brain Machine Interface) for the physical relationship; PARO, a seal-like healing robot, OriHime, and Pepper for the social relationship; and a conversation with artificial ‘personality’ such as Bima48 for the psychological relationship. For each of this kind of relation, the involvement on Sociology of Religion is discussed.