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“The Advent of Postmodern Robotic TechnoReligiosity"
Although the term sounds incongruous, “robotic religion” will emerge as a prominent feature in the posthuman world. With servant-robots taking on various tasks, such as caregivers to and tutors of children, many humans will want to ensure that their humanoid robots act and teach in concert with the moral standards of their religious faiths. Accordingly, the next century will witness the development and marketing of religiously-identified robots, e.g., Muslim robots, Catholic robots, Mormon robots, etc. This paper will explain how this phenomenon will occur by (1) establishing minimalist, i.e., sociological, and maximalist, i.e., phenomenological, definitions of religion, (2) showing the ways in which the programming and interaction of robots will reflect the minimalist definition of religion, e.g., beliefs, practices, and communities, and (3) surmising that, based upon certain technological breakthroughs, the transfer of human experiences to robotic systems will fulfill the maximalist definition of religion as the experience of the holy. The latter poses serious theological and philosophical questions, for if religious experiences, evidenced in human neurological patterns, are deemed real, are they less so if transferred to a robotic “brain”? Or if a humanoid robot hosts a postmodern “authentic replica” of the original human experience, won’t this hyperreal experience of the sacred be just as real as the human original? In other words, will the future witness, e.g., the rise of the “born-again” robot?