Debbie Elliott talked to The Sunday Tribune about her new book ‘Monkey Mind, Robot Body; the myth of AI’.
Artificial intelligence is penetrating so many aspects of contemporary human life. From bionic implants to computer-enhanced brains, from robot assistants to new kinds of cyborgs AI is changing the way we live and think.
Using science fiction tropes such as time travel and character progression combined with ideas of transhumanism Elliott investigates through fiction and myth, possibilities for a next stage of human existence enhanced through scientific development. As a philosopher and theologian through her work she examines the impact that AI may have on religious thought. A central theme is dualism, the existence or not of a spirit or soul. It imagines possible religious practices in a changed world, such as prayer, ritual and methods of human-divine communication.
“The world the book inhabits is complex. It considers aspects of ecology, religion and centres on relationships between humans and our future counterparts whether they are considered transhumans or cyborgs. It’s not only been a philosophical challenge for me as a writer but also an emotional challenge demanding empathetic as well as intellectual strength.
“I kept thinking, does this sound too crazy? But then we don’t know what is going to happen with AI, and what it will be capable of. There are plenty of dystopian treatments in science fiction but very few that look at the contributions of AI positively. The scenarios in my projection are not based on any existing classic that readers may be familiar with such as those by J. G. Ballard or Philip K. Dick.”
The book is now available as paperback and ebook. You can get it on Amazon by clicking on this link.