SES’s new NAO robot will allow faculty and students to pursue research into the ethics of emerging technologies, including robotics, bionics, human enhancement, artificial intelligence, trans-humanism, and nanotechnology. They will delve into the many ethical questions that arise as part of these studies, such as, “Should robots do our jobs?” “Should they care for humans in a hospital or nursing home setting?” “Will care like this take away the human touch and ultimately become a violation of ethics on a human level?” How far in society should robots be used until it’s no longer ethical? We simply cannot afford to leave these mega-ethical issues to technicians, scientists, and sociologists alone. Theologians and ethicists must be included in the conversation as well.
NAO robots have never been used at a seminary but have been used in research at other prestigious universities and research labs around the world, including MIT, Tokyo University, ISC, and Carnegie Mellon. These other top-notch organization have used the robot for research in topics such as computer science, human-machine interaction, and the social sciences. NAO, which has also been used in the education of autistic students, boasts face and object recognition, automatic speech recognition, text-to-speech in seven languages, and whole body motion.
SES’s research will move the conversation into the vital area of morals and ethics. Will robots be used for sound utilitarian and humanitarian purposes, or will they be used by humanists, feeding their own egos, seeking their own flawed human definition of perfectibility.