What you must read on AI, transhumanism, and the new digital technologies:
Whether we like it or not, and whether we know it or not, the new technologies are shaping our lives massively. We live by and for our smart phones, social media, information technology, and so much else. But it is not just personal technology that impacts us. Governments and the corporate world have learned of the power of harnessing technology for all sorts of purposes, many of them sinister.
Things like artificial intelligence (AI), intelligence amplification (IA), ChatGPT, digital identity, the cashless society, the Great Reset, and the transhuman revolution are now fully upon us, and the future is looking rather worrying indeed. How should the Christian assess all this? Many helpful books have been written on such matters.
Three somewhat older titles on the impact of technology can be mentioned:
Ellul, Jacques, The Technological Society. Alfred A. Knopf, 1964.
Lewis, C. S., The Abolition of Man. Macmillan, 1947, 1976.
Postman, Neil, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. Vintage, 1993.
But here I want to look at much newer works. Most of the books listed here have been penned in the past five years or so. All are penned by Christians of various stripes. Most are concerned about where all this is headed, although some are more optimistic about technology in general and things like transhumanism in particular,
I provide a brief description of each book. Here then are 19 more recent volumes (the last three of which are collections of essays by various authors):
Bryant, John, Beyond Human? Science and the Changing Face of Humanity. Lion, 2013.
This somewhat older book discusses how changes in science and technology are resulting in changes to humanity. He looks at various issues, including genetics, medical developments, information and communication technologies, and transhumanism. A helpful assessment by a Christian ethicist and biologist.
Dyer, John, From the Garden to the City: The Place of Technology in the Story of God, rev. ed. Kregel, 2011, 2022.
In this second edition of his earlier work, the theology professor and web designer looks at the new technologies and their negative and positive features in terms of the overall biblical story line, and how they impact on what it means to be human.
Fesko, John, The Christian and Technology. Evangelical Press, 2020.
A brief look at six technological advances and their positive and negative impacts: screens, social media, cars, books, virtual reality and the internet. A short but helpful volume.
Gay, Craig, Modern Technology and the Human Future: A Christian Appraisal. IVP, 2018.
This is a quite detailed examination of how the new technologies are shaping our world and what it means to be human. A very helpful biblical assessment of where we are headed and how we can try to keep things in check.
Godde, Sandra, Reaching for Immortality: Can Science Cheat Death? A Christian Response to Transhumanism. Wipf & Stock, 2022.
A quite brief but useful look at how the Christian should think about the transhumanism agenda. See my full length review of this helpful volume here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2022/10/26/a-review-of-reaching-for-immortality-by-sandra-godde/
Lennox, John, 2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity. Zondervan, 2020.
As always, Lennox offers a carefully argued and useful look at how Christians can think about the age they live in – in this case, the age of AI and transhumanism. An incisive, well-documented and helpful volume by the English mathematician and apologist.
Miller, Julie, Critiquing Transhumanism: The Human Cost of Pursuing Techno-Utopia. Public Philosophy Press, 2022.
In this important volume the Christian apologist and philosopher offers a thorough critique of transhumanism and our brave new future. She sounds the alarm as to where this is taking us, and insists on a solid biblical response to all this. Very useful.
Rana, Fazale with Kenneth Samples, Humans 2.0: Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Perspectives on Transhumanism. Reasons to Believe, 2019.
The authors, with backgrounds in biochemistry, theology and philosophy offer a detailed examination of where technology is taking us. They look at scientific and ethical matters, and assess things from a biblical framework. Many bases are covered here – a recommended volume.
Reinke, Tony, God, Technology and the Christian Life. Crossway, 2022.
A lengthy and detailed examination of technology and how the Christian should approach it. A helpful and quite thorough work offering useful biblical assessment of the technological revolution.
Rose Michael, The Art of Being Human: What “Old Books” Can Tell Us (And Warn Us) About Living in the 21st Century. Angelico, 2022.
This volume takes a rather different approach when dealing with issues such as transhumanism, the devaluation of persons, the new technologies, genetic engineering, and the like. He assesses the writings of people like George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, C. S. Lewis, Jonathan Swift, Aldous Huxley, John Le Carre, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and others as he seeks to show how we can preserve the person and protect human rights from where we are heading.
Shatzer, Jacob, Transhumanism and the Image of God: Today’s Technology and the Future of Christian Discipleship. IVP, 2019.
The American theologian examines the various new technologies and warns how so many of them are having a very real and negative impact on what it means to be a human. He utilises the biblical view of humanity and personhood to assess how and where we are heading to a posthuman future.
Song, Felicia Wu, Restless Devices: Recovering Personhood, Presence and Place in the Digital Age. IVP, 2021.
Here the Christian cultural sociologist looks at how the new digital technologies are changing the world and us along with it. She shows how this new digital revolution is being driven, and offers practical help in how we can utilise them without being seduced and enslaved by them.
Thacker, Jason, The Age of AI. Zondervan, 2020.
The Christian thinker and ethicist assesses information technologies and artificial intelligence, looking at how they impact on so many areas, including work, medicine and our families. These things are tools that can be quite useful if used well, it can also be very harmful as well. Care is needed as we chart an uncertain future.
Thacker, Jason, Following Jesus in a Digital Age. B&H, 2022.
This is a short, useful and practical book on how Christians can live fully human and fully God-honouring lives in this new age of technology.
Wood, Patrick, The Evil Twins of Technocracy and Transhumanism. Coherent Pub., 2022.
A strong warning about how the technocrats and groups like the World Economic Forum are using the new technologies for decidedly evil ends. He discusses, Gates, Schwab, Harari and others, and looks at the sinister designs they have on the rest of humanity.
Wright, John, Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth. Wisecraft, 2019.
Science fiction writers have long been at the forefront of warning us about how dangerous many of the trends are in the new technologies and the like. Wright is no different, and in this collection of essays he certainly sounds the alarm, contrasting the biblical view with that of the humanists and transhumanists.
Cole-Turner, Ronald, ed., Transhumanism and Transcendence: Christian Hope in an Age of Technological Enhancement. Georgetown University Press, 2011.
In this somewhat earlier collection of essays a dozen experts weigh in on the pros and cons of technological enhancement in the light of Christian concerns. Some of the writers here offer a more positive take on these issues, while others offer a more negative appraisal.
Peters, Ted, ed., AI and IA: Utopia or Extinction. ATF Press, 2019.
The nine essays featured here look at the ethical and theological implications of AI and related matters. Like the above volume, the views range from rather optimistic to those who are rather pessimistic about where things are heading.
Thacker, Jason, ed., The Digital Public Square: Christian Ethics in a Technological Society. B&H, 2023.
Here 13 Christian authors look at a number of issues from a range of perspectives. Topics include free speech and censorship, misinformation and the social media, pornography, hate speech and related topics.
As to my most recommended books here, it in part depends on what you are looking for. Some volumes concentrate on things like AI, while others look more broadly at the worrying prospects of transhumanism. While all 19 of the newer books are worth getting, perhaps I can highlight Gay, Godde, Lennox, Miller and Reinke.