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Magic and Technology

HNRS 2033 Sec. 060 - Spring 2022

Professor Wesley Shrum Department of Sociology

Tu 4:30 PM - 7:30 PM
116 Stubbs Hall

How can we understand recent and future technological developments that promise to change the very nature of what it means to be human? The entities created by Artificial Intelligence may be compared and contrasted with the ways that humans have conceptualized unseen but often influential entities such as gods and ghosts, androids and cyborgs. To what extent are agents of traditional religious, occult, and spiritual practice similar to or different from entities now enabled and projected by technology? In what sense are they “actors”? What rights should they have and what protections should humans have against their misuse and autonomous development? Should research on “superintelligent” beings be allowed? How will people behave in the presence of entities viewed as more knowledgeable and powerful than we are? What policies and constraints should be placed on such entities and their replication?

Course topics include shamanism, the technologies of consciousness, witchcraft, magical beings, and the afterlife.

Fulfills General Education:

English Composition
Social Sciences