The Southern Evangelical Seminary unveiled its new humanoid robot Friday, making the Christian apologetics school the first seminary in the country to use a robot to study the ethics of emerging technology in artificial intelligence. The NAO, pronounced “now,” robot is a 23-inch, programmable machine that will allow students and faculty to conduct research pertinent to bionics, human enhancement, transhumanism and nanotechnology.
The Southern Evangelical Seminary of Matthews, NC has purchased a NAO robot (pronounced “now”) to conduct a series of tests in order to figure out how such advanced, human-like technology will impact their faith. What exactly does God want the Christian researchers to do with such a fancy toy? I tracked down the Seminary’s Kevin Staley for some answers. Staley turned out to be far from the stereotypical God-fearing Southern Christian, that so often makes for compelling headlines. As we spoke—his accent a peculiar mix of South African and southern American drawl—it became apparent that the Seminary planned to take these tests seriously, pioneering a sort of research not often discussed in Sunday morning sermons.