ROBOTS AS INSTRUMENTS OF GOD? EXPLORATIONS IN ROBOTICS AND THEOLOGY
16th to 17th March 2023
(be aware that this is the changed date)
Registration Deadline: March 1st.
Ruhr-University Bochum || Tagungsraum II, Mensa Akafö
Social robots can now be found in more and more areas of society, including religion: in Buddhist temples, for reciting the Qur‘an in Mecca and Medina, the BlessU2 blessing robot, the SanTO prayer robot in the Christian context, as well as other „theomorphic“ machines and smart assistants. They inspire various reflections in practical and systematic theology: Can we pray with robots? Will robots possibly have religious experiences themselves? Are robots and other technical systems based on so-called Artificial Intelligence suitable for use as pastoral staff? How can the consideration of robots in religious contexts ultimately shed light on the relationship between humans and machines? Theology will have to deal with these questions in the coming years if it wants to actively shape not only the social discourse on robotics and Artificial Intelligence, but also the emerging integration of robotic systems into religious practice.
The workshop provides a platform for young scholars to showcase their research projects and perspectives in the interdisciplinary field of religion and robotics. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in discussions about the presented papers and to network with one another as well as leading experts in the field. The keynote speakers are Ilona Nord from Germany, Noreen Herzfeld from the United States, and Gabriele Trovato from Japan, who will present their current research initiatives. Additionally, the workshop will offer a chance to experience CelesTE, a „Catholic“ Robot designed to keep company with the user for prayer. Interactions with CelesTE will be confidential and may be analyzed for research purposes.
The workshop is funded by the RUB Research School.
Thursday, 16th March
11.00 Begin of the workshop: Welcome, introduction, and book-presentation
How to discuss Robots in Religions
11.30 Robot, lets pray! – Exploring the Theological Implications of Religious Robots || Anna Puzio, Twente
12.20 An Islamic perspective on (modern) technology || Ramy Abdin, Erlangen-Nürnberg
13.10 Lunch opportunity
Robots and Theology: A Thin Line Between Conflict and Conjunction
Gabriele Trovato, Tokyo
15.45 Coffee break with snacks
How to tell Humans and Robots apart
16.10 Purpose and Immortality. – Existential hurdles and the pragmatic leap of religious robotics. || Jonas Simmerlein, Wien
17.00 The Limits of Pastoral Robots? || Simon N. Balle, Aarhus
18.00 Public talk
The Artifice of Intelligence: Human and Divine Relationship in a Robotic Age.
Noreen Herzfeld, Collegeville
20.00 Conference Dinner
Friday, 17th March
How to design Robots for Religious Contexts
09.30 BINA48 and the value of information processing. Religious education and its importance in the face of digitality || Marcel Scholz, Mainz
10.20 Even so send I you! – Reflections on design requirements for the use of robots in Christian contexts || Martin Kutz, Dresden
11.10 Coffee break
Instruments of God – Robots in Practical-Theological Perspective
Ilona Nord, Würzburg
13.00 Lunch opportunity
How to get to Robot-Heaven
14.00 The Final Frontier – Investigating the impact of Science-Fiction on our (technological) future || Theresa Thunig, Bochum
14.50 What’s robot heaven like? An eschatological sneak peek || Max Tretter, Erlangen-Nürnberg
15.50 Concluding discussion and outlook
16.30 End of the workshop
Venue and Directions
The workshop will be held in the „Tagungsraum II“ above the Mensa of the Ruhr-University Bochum. The meeting room is accessible without barriers and equipped with a beamer and a whiteboard. Detailed directions can be found on the Ruhr-University website. From the main train station (Hauptbahnhof) the Ruhr-University can easily be reached via public transportation with the underground line U35 (9 stations in the direction Hustadt).
From the station Ruhr-Universität, turn right towards the university. First cross the bridge and then the campus. You pass the library and the Audimax on the right hand side. At the end of the campus, before you look into the Ruhr-valley, you stand next to the Mensa. The conference room is located in the Mensa-building on the top floor to the right of the entrance, behind a glass door, opposite the „Rote Beete“. Signs to guide the way will be posted.
Universitätsstraße 150, 44801 Bochum
Fon 0049 234 32 22414 (Lukas Brand office, available weekdays from 8 am to 4 pm)
Accomodation and Catering Conditions
Accommodation during the workshop is available at the Ibis Hotel in Bochum, located directly behind the Bochum main train station, from March 15th to 18th at a discounted participant rate. To book a room to the discount price, please send an email and request from us a code word via the registration form below. With the code word you are able to book a room at Ibis for the dicount price yourself. The Accomodation includes breakfast at the Ibis hotel.
Catering and lunch in the Mensa of the Ruhr-University will be provided free of charge for all registered participants during the workshop. Depending on our funding, the number of participants for whom we can guarantee these conditions is limited.
All participants who give a presentation during the workshop are invited to the Conference Dinner on Thursday evening. Other participants may attend the Conference Dinner at their own expense, provided that the restaurant offers sufficient space.
To ensure proper planning of facilities and catering registration for the workshop will close on March 1st. Please register via the form below.