Artificial intelligence and the Imago Dei in contemporary speculative fiction: a study of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun

Dear, Joanne (2023) Artificial intelligence and the Imago Dei in contemporary speculative fiction: a study of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun. MRes thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis critically examines understanding of the theological concept of the imago Dei in relation to artificial intelligence (AI) using Kazuo Ishiguro’s speculative novel Klara and the Sun to do so. The study finds that this genre of fiction is a useful tool for examining hypothetical scenarios, in this instance the arrival of Artificial General Intelligence or ‘strong-AI’, owing to its ability to consider unverifiable realities. Using textual analysis, this research determines that examining human uniqueness from a theological perspective in consideration of AI and robotics is not a straightforward discourse. The substantive model within the novel is largely discounted owing to the superior intellectual capacities demonstrated by the AI presented, with the caveat that human and machine thinking are two very different processes. Klara, the narrator of the novel and an AI, fits into the functional interpretation well as she is a product of human activity in the created world, with the concerns this model historically generates around the exploitation of nature and the replacement of human beings demonstrated. The relational view of the imago Dei finds Klara with the ability to engage in AI-AI and AI-human relationships, and with the creation of her own religion she exhibits the nascent possibilities of an AI-divine relationship. Klara’s external motivation to protect the child she is purchased for can be read in terms of Pannenberg’s idea of exocentricity, found in the eschatological model of the image. The paper concludes that the AI presented by Ishiguro may be made in the imago humanitatis with a ‘weak-imaging’ connection to the imago Dei.

Item Type: Thesis (MRes)
Qualification Level: Masters
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Walton, Professor Heather
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83575
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 May 2023 11:21
Last Modified: 04 May 2023 11:21
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83575

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