Can machines be spiritual? Might they eventually evolve into self-conscious, moral agents akin to human persons? Can they help humans transcend the great existential dilemmas addressed by religion—why are we here? how should we live? and why must we die? Might they save humans from themselves by engineering intelligent solutions to the injustice, strife, and suffering that has forever burdened the human condition? Or will artificial intelligence spell the end of humanity? The 2018 Garfield Forum considers AI as a kind of religious quest with real world consequences. It puts Sylvester Johnson and Robert Geraci, scholars doing cutting-edge research on religion and AI, in conversation with Jerry Kaplan, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and futurist. This year’s forum is moderated by Kathryn Gin Lum (Stanford Religious Studies).
Robert Geraci Department of Religious Studies (Manhattan College)
Sylvester Johnson Center for the Humanities (Virginia Tech)
Jerry Kaplan Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (Stanford University)
The Garfield Forum
The Howard M. Garfield Forum is an annual mini-conference focused on a topic at the intersection of religion, ethics, and public life, and designed with Stanford undergraduates especially in mind. The Forum is supported by the generosity of Religious Studies alumnus and San Francisco attorney, Howard Garfield, and organized by the Department of Religious Studies. Past topics have included "Transitional Justice," "Religion and the Presidency," and "Understanding ISIS." A video of the 2016 forum, on "Religious Extremism and the Future of Liberal Societies," can be found here.