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From the Editor - March/April 2019

Columnists
Stephen Kiesling

Tim Kiesling

One of the big questions we’ve wrestled with since the launch of this magazine 20 years ago came from a brilliant theologian at MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab named Anne Foerst. Dr. Foerst began her doctoral dissertation in Germany believing that “strong” artificial intelligence (a real thinking machine) was impossible, but decided over the course of her thesis that strong AI was on its way—and so she joined the AI Lab to work on robots. Foerst introduced us to Kismet, the first emotionally responsive robot, in 2001. She also raised the big theological question: At what point should we baptize a robot like a baby?” Anne and I tried to write a book to answer the question, and perhaps the most destabilizing realization for me was that many AI researchers didn’t use the word consciousness. To some, “I think, therefore I am” represents a clunky old technology. Getting rid of the “I” will achieve a pure “think” that will be infinitely faster.  I grew up Catholic, and bodies are so important that we resurrect them. I also grew up thinking human consciousness was expanding at the rate AI act …

Stephen Kiesling is a former Olympic rower, cocreator of the Nike Cross Training System, and editor at large of Spirituality & Health. A 35th anniversary edition of The Shell Game: Reflections on Rowing and the Pursuit of Excellence has just been published.

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