Exciting New Job News!

I am thrilled to announce that I have been appointed the new Assistant Professor in Digital Religion(s) at the University of Zurich! I will be joining the Faculty of Theology in their URRP (University Research Priority Program) in Digital Religion(s) in October and I am very excited about working with the diverse array of research projects already in progress there. Along with continuing my anthropological research into religion and artificial intelligence, I will be also be teaching, supervising postgrads, and getting stuck into Faculty (and Swiss!) life. Apparently there’s a Lindt Chocolate Museum in Zurich…

Ich werde auch Deutsch lernen. Wünsch mir Glück!!

RPGeeks, Dungeons and Dragons and Science – Sci-fi Horror One Shot with Dr Beth Singler

Rogue Computers! Space Tourists! Duct Tape! Puppets!

There was a lot going on for the crew and passengers of the Air Car in this massively fun one shot I was invited to join by the RPGeeks. We also had a great time discussing the science behind the scenes, as well as some of the speculations about the future of AI!

(the WiFi on my end wasn’t great, but I can only blame our Robot Overlords trying to stop us talking about them… Or whoever had knocked the signal booster off the wall in the office next door when they moved in that week!)

RPGeeks: Sci-Fi Horror One Shot with Dr Beth Singler

In space no one can hear you scream… or do ventriloquism.

‘A Visit to the Human Factory: How to Build the World’s Most Realistic Robot’, by James Vincent, The Verge

Here’s a fantastic new piece from James at The Verge, featuring a few quotes from this digital anthropologist I know…

A desire to project agency and intelligence onto inanimate matter, though, is deeply human, says Beth Singler, a digital anthropologist at the University of Cambridge. “You don’t have to go as far as Ameca has with facial features before people start bringing animated entities into what I call their cosmology of potential beings,” she tells The Verge. “There’s this sense that what is around us could be intelligence, and different cultures react to that in different ways.”

Traditions like Shinto and Buddhism are more open about this impulse to ascribe soul to objects, says Singler, but the same instincts run deep in the West. “We like to think we’re immune to this because we had the Enlightenment and became very serious and rational,” she says. “But I don’t see that. When I see people’s interactions with animated technological entities — and that can be everything from a robot to a Roomba — I see that same animistic tendency.” In other words: we still want to believe.

Neil Lawrence and his ‘AI: Reclaiming Control’ Talk, Cambridge Festival 2022

I’m so very grateful to Neil Lawrence, the Google DeepMind Professor in Machine Learning at the University of Cambridge, for a shout-out for my research in his recent Cambridge Festival talk on “Artificial Intelligence: Reclaiming Control”.

You can read his whole talk and look at his slides here, at his blog, InverseProbability.com

Thanks Neil!

A slide from Professor Lawrence’s Cambridge Festival talk, 2022

AI, Us, and Our Dreams of the Future — Beth Singler & William Powers

I was very honoured to be invited to be involved in this ‘Salon’ and have the chance to discuss my research into our conceptions of AI and our hopes and fears for the future:

Conversation from Tuesday, March 15, 2022 at the Center for Humans and Machines at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. Artificial intelligence isn’t just changing how we communicate, work, and live day to day. It’s transforming our beliefs and dreams about existence and how we imagine the future. Dr. Beth Singler, an anthropologist specializing in artificial intelligence, has studied these questions closely and written extensively about the lived experience of people as they engage with AI and robots. Please join us for this one-hour salon featuring Dr. Singler in conversation with CHM visiting scholar William Powers.

The Naked Reflections Podcast, Blessed Algorithms

A great chat about religion and AI with myself, and Hope McGovern and Ed Kessler of the Woolf Institute 🙂

We have Alexa, we have drones in the sky, killer robots on the battlefield and creepy algorithms designed to anticipate our every need. But do we lose sight of the potential benefits of A.I? Beth Singler and Hope McGovern throw some light on a much discussed subject…


Dear God, Who Else is Listening to Our Prayers? – Religion Media Centre Panel on Religious Apps, February 2022

I was delighted to be a part of this panel along with Ruth Peacock and Andrew Brown of the Religion Media Centre; Maria Farrell, writer and speaker on technology, who has worked in technology policy for 20 years and has taught internet governance; Dr Jason Pridmore, Vice Dean Education: Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication, Rotterdam; and Emma Holland creative manager of the ‘Pray as you Go’ Jesuit app.

The Religion Media Centre