Briefing Paper: Spiritual Silicon – could robots one day have souls?
Hannah Waite and Nick Spencer’s briefing paper on spiritual silicone. 23/05/2022
New research has revealed a significant gender divide in attitudes towards technology in the UK with Artificial intelligence and robotics remaining highly contest topics. The YouGov survey of 5000 UK adults found almost one third of men (28%) would consider having an artificially intelligent companion in the future compared to 13% of women.
The Think tank Theos has analysed data provided by YouGov and found,
One fifth of men (21%) believe that one day we will have to extent human rights to robots, compared to only 13% of women.
One in ten men would prefer a robot to conduct surgery on them than a human surgeon, compared to just 4% of women.
Less than half of men (47%) would be reluctant to get in a self–driving car compared to over two thirds (64%) of women.
In the face the recent developments in Artificial Intelligence and robotics the survey revealed that whilst women are more suspicious of these technologies than men, hostility across UK adults remains high irrespective of age, ethnicity and religion. Over half of respondents (56%) would be reluctant to get in a self–driving car and only 7% would want a robot surgeon over a human.
The findings are part of a new report produced by Theos and The Faraday Institute investigating the science and religion debate in the UK today. The publication includes interviews with leading scientists and philosophers, including Brian Cox, Susan Greenfield, Adam Rutherford, and A.C. Grayling.
Nick Spencer, Senior Fellow at Theos says “Artificial Intelligence is one of the fastest moving scientific areas and is increasingly asking penetrating questions about what it means to be human. It is sometimes assumed that the answers people give depend on whether they are religious but the research shows that other factors, not least gender, play a massive role. The conversations we need about these issues will require us to draw on scientific, philosophical, and religious ideas.”
The report ‘Science and Religion: Moving away from the shallow end’ has been produced from a YouGov survey of 5000 adults along with over 100 in–depth expert interviews.
Kathleen Richardson, Professor of Ethics and Culture of Robots and AI at De Montfort University says “Unfortunately, technology in these areas is being significantly shaped by men who have a very particular set of assumptions, motivations, priorities and goals. All too often, these risk excluding women and eroding human relation in a way that will ultimately harm both men and women.”
For the full findings of the report visit: https://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/science-and-religion
For further information (interviews, images or additional quotes), please contact
Megan Hills via e: firstname.lastname@example.org t: +44 7591 830352
Catherine Goodier via e: email@example.com , t: +44 7874 864056
Notes to Editors
Please find the data tables for attitudes to Artificial Intelligence and robotics linked here.
Please find the data tables for the full report linked here.
Theos has analysed the data supplied by YouGov. The total sample size was 5,153 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 5th May – 13th June 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
Theos is the UK’s leading religion and society think tank. It has a broad Christian basis and exists to enrich the debate about faith and society.
About The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion
The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion is a Cambridge–based interdisciplinary research institute improving public understanding of religious beliefs in relation to the sciences. Its main focus is on the relationship between science and the Christian faith, but it also engages with those of any faith or none.
The mission of The Faraday Institute is to shed new light on life’s big questions through academically rigorous research in the field of science and religion; to provide life–changing resources for those with interests in science and faith through research dissemination, education and training; and, to catalyse a change in attitude towards science and faith, through outreach to schools, colleges, the scientific community, religious institutions and the general public.
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The Theos Team
Posted 24 May 2022
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Theos researches and investigates the intersection of religion, politics and society in the contemporary world.