#1 Matthew Moore on Buddhism, Meditating Machines, and the Robopocalypse.
Date: September 16th, 2018

It is said that Jesus hits like the atom bomb.  If so, then Buddha, or at least this episode on Buddhism and near-future technology, might be the daisy cutter of philosophy.  Whereas most of the episodes on Research on Religion have focused on Christianity, the dominant faith tradition in the English-speaking world and the topic most in my wheelhouse, I tried to venture outside of the box on a regular basis to learn about other religions.  Relative to Christianity, there isn’t as much social scientific work outside the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; the work that does exist tends to be more normative and philosophical in its tenor.  Nonetheless, I made an effort to pick up these different traditions and stumbled across the work of political theorist Matthew Moore, a professor at Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo.  Our first interview on Buddhism and political theory was interesting and at the end of our discussion I asked what he was working on.  Prof. Moore responded that he was thinking about whether robots (and artificial intelligence) could meditate.  That statement took my breath away since it was something that I never thought about and it just sounded weird.  Not being a stranger to “weird,” I made a mental note to return to this topic for the Halloween series and after about a year I exchanged some emails with Matt and he sent me some working papers.  The topic proved to be more interesting and intellectually deep than I had thought and decided to make it one of our regularly featured episodes.  The conversation that resulted was amazing, at least for me.  After hanging up the phone, I remember sitting back in my chair and going “Whoa!”  (My recent interview with John Traphagan had a similar vibe to it.)  There is a lot to think about with respect to the human condition in this episode, and filtered through a Buddhist lens is just the flavoring that I had sought after throughout this podcast.  The blending of science/technology and religion is also one of the other themes running through this discussion.  And who knew everything that I wanted to do with this podcast would come wrapped in a warning about the Robopocalypse to come?   As I have come to learn, you often find the most interesting things you are looking for when you least expect them and in the places you never would think to look.  The trick is to always be observant.  It has been a good ride.  Carry on, folks.

Original Podcast Link.


Stephen Barr on Religion, Quantum Physics, and the God Particle.

John Traphagan on Cargo Cults and SETI.

Leave a Reply

Listen or Download This Episode
Search The Podcast
To search the podcast, type a term and click the Search button.

Connect With Us