|Dr. Robert M. Geraci earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in religious studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara and is currently associate professor of religious studies at Manhattan College in New York City. His research explores how technologies, especially digital technologies, are appropriated toward religious ends and how human meaning emerges out of technological practice. His essays have been published in such journals as the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, Implicit Religion, and Philosophy & Technology. His first book, Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality (Oxford 2010), explores the influence of roboticists and AI experts who believe that human beings will upload their minds into robots or virtual reality and thereby live forever. In addition to his new research on Indian computer sciences, Geraci is also the principal investigator on a United States National Science Foundation grant to study meaningful experiences in video games and virtual worlds.
Dr. Geraci’s Fulbright project, “Technically Religious: The Role of Religion in Indian Robotics and Artificial Intelligence,” will address from an international perspective prior research showing the profound implications of religion on the development and understanding of robotics and artificial intelligence in the U.S. Interviewing and observing Indian experts in robotics and AI will establish a comparative framework for thinking about religious practice and modern technology, and a better understanding of how technology is developing and being deployed in modern India. The rich religious history of India is literally inscribed upon its landscape and is recreated in pop culture. This project will help determine whether and how India’s religious heritage influences its technological practices.