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Speakers

Stef Aupers
KU Leuven

 
Short bio
Stef Aupers is a cultural sociologist and works as professor media culture at the department of communication science, Institute of Media Studies, Leuven University in Belgium. He published widely in international peer-reviewed journals on topics as diverse as religion, spirituality, fantasy fiction, conspiracy theories and different aspects of media- and game culture. A prominent line of research in his work is the elective affinity between digital technology and religion. While working at the Erasmus University Rotterdam as a PhD student in 2001, he received a Fulbright scholarship to do fieldwork in Silicon Valley and interviewed about 35 ICT-specialists, programmers and futurists on this topic (published in Dutch in 2004). Together with Dick Houtman he edited and published Religions of Modernity: Relocating the Sacred to the Self and the Digital, Leiden: Brill. Since 2014, he worksaAt KU Leuven and he currently supervises three PhD-projects on game culture respectively, games and social networks (Cindy Krassen), games and Artificial Intelligence (Iulia Coanda) and games and religion (Lars de Wildt). On the latter he recently published: (2019). Pop Theology: Forum Discussions on Religion in Videogames. Information, Communication & Society. DOI: org/10.1080/1369118X.2019.1577476 (online first, with L. de Wildt); (2019) Playing the Other: Role-Playing Religion in Video Games. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 22(5-6), 867-884 (with L. de Wildt); (2017) ‘Gods in World of Warcraft exist’: Religious reflexivity and the quest for meaning in online computer games.’ New Media & Society, 19(11): 1744-1760 (with J. Schaap).



Erica Baffelli
University of Manchester

Short bio
Erica Baffelli is currently Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Japanese Studies at The University of Manchester (UK). Before arriving at Manchester in 2013 she was visiting researcher at Hosei University (Tokyo) and post-doctoral research fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (2005-2007) and Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Asian Religions at the University of Otago (New Zealand, 2007-2013). She is also the Director of the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership, a consortium sponsored by the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) of seven universities and HEIs.  She is interested in religion in contemporary Japan, with a focus on groups founded from the 1970s onwards. Recent publications include: Dynamism and the Ageing of a Japanese 'New' Religion ( with Ian Reader, Bloomsbury 2019); Media and New Religions in  Japan (Routledge 2016); Baffelli and Reader (eds),  Aftermath: the Impact and Ramifications of the Aum Affair. Special Issue of the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 39 (1), 2012; and Baffelli, Reader and Staemmler (eds), Japanese Religions on the Internet: Innovation, Representation and Authority (Routledge 2011).



Dominik Balazka
University of Trento and Fondazione Bruno Kessler

Was Blumer right? Religious values and quantified self in the Petabyte Age (abstract)

Short bio
Dominik Balazka is a social researcher and data analyst. He is currently a collaborator of the University of Trento and an affiliated fellow researcher at the Center for Religious Studies of the Bruno Kessler Foundation. His main interests include cultural studies, secularization, religious beliefs, religious nones, Big Data, philosophy of science and action theory. Publication: Balazka, D., & Rodighiero, D. (2019). Big Data and the Little Big Bang: An Epistemological (R)evolution. Manuscript submitted to publication.





Yaqub Chaudhary
Independent Researcher
Short bio
Yaqub Chaudhary, Research Fellow in AI, Philosophy and Theology at the Cambridge Muslim College. My research interests include Artificial Intelligence and recent developments in the fields of cognitive science and neuroscience in connection with Islamic philosophy of the mind. Recent publications: “The Artificialization of Mind and World”, forthcoming, accepted for publication in Zygon; “Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and the Re-Enchantment of the World”, Zygon, May 2019, doi: 10.1111/zygo.12521; “Delegating Religious Practices to Autonomous Machines, A Reply to ‘Prayer-Bots and Religious Worship on Twitter: A Call for a Wider Research Agenda’” Minds & Machines, April 2019, doi: 10.1007/s11023-019-09499-2 



Nachum Dershowitz 
University of Tel Aviv

Short bio
Nachum Dershowitz is Professor of Computer Science at Tel Aviv University and incumbent of the Chair in Computational
Logic. His graduate degrees in applied mathematics are from the Weizmann Institute in Israel. He is an international authority on program verification and equational reasoning and has made major contributions to the computer analysis of historical manuscripts. He has authored or coauthored over 100 research papers and several books, spent 2015-2016 as a Senior Fellow at the Institut d'études avancées de Paris, held visiting positions at other prominent institutions around the globe, was elected to Academia Europaea in 2013, and has won numerous awards for research and teaching, including the Herbrand Award for Distinguished Contributions to Automated Reasoning, several “test of time” awards for past research, and the Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award for his book, Calendrical Calculations, with Ed Reingold, now in its fourth edition.



Robert Geraci
Manhattan College

Short bio
Robert M Geraci is Professor and Chair of Religious Studies at Manhattan College in New York City. He is the author of Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality (Oxford 2010), Virtually Sacred: Myth and Meaning in World of Warcraft and Second Life (Oxford 2014), and Temples of Modernity: Nationalism, Hinduism, and Transhumanism in South Indian Science (Lexington 2018). His research has been supported by grants from the American Academy of Religion, the National Science Foundation (U.S.A.), and twice by Fulbright-Nehru Professional Excellence (Research) awards.




Oliver
Krüger
University of Fribourg

Short bio
Oliver Krüger (*1973) is professor for Religious Studies at Fribourg University (Switzerland). After finishing his Ph.D. at the University of Bonn, he did research at Heidelberg and Princeton University on Wicca resp. the US funeral culture. Krüger is specialized in the relation of media, science and religion. Major publications: Virtualität und Unsterblichkeit. Gott, Evolution und die Singularität im Post- und Transhumanismus. Freiburg 22019 (English publication forthc. 2020); Die mediale Religion. Probleme und Perspektiven religionswissenschaftlicher und wissenssoziologischer Medienforschung. Bielefeld 2012.



Lionel Obadia

University of Lyon

Short bio
Lionel Obadia, Ph-D in Sociology (1997) has been associate professor in Ethnology (1998-2004) and is full professor in Anthropology (since 2004) at the University of Lyon, France. He now heads the department of Social Sciences and Humanities at the French Agency for Research (ANR). He has been teaching in other French universities (INALCO, EHESS, EPHE, SciencePo) and has been fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies of Strasbourg (France). He is specialized in anthropology of religion, Asian religions (Buddhism, shamanism, Hinduism) and Globalization, magic and modernity. He has conducted fieldworks in France, Europe, North America, Nepal, and South India. He has published 10 books, edited 17 special issues of peer-reviewed journals, and published more than 170 papers (journal articles and book chapters) in French, English, Spanish, Korean and Chinese. Selected publications: Religion et histoire globale, special issue of Diogène, n°256, 2019; Fleeting Sentiments of the Sacred, special issue of Bulletin for the Study of Religion, 2018; Global phenomena and social science (co-editor) (Springer, 2017); Religious diversity in Asia, Special issue of Approaching religion Vol 7 No 1, 2017; Experiencing religion. New approaches towards personal religiosity (co-editor) Berlin: Lit-Verlag, 2016; Satan (Paris, Ellipses, 2016); Shalom Bouddha! Bouddhisme et judaïsme, l’improbable rencontre, (Paris, Berg International, 2015); Globalization and the New Geographies of Religion, special issue of International Social Science Journal, vol 63, 2014; La marchandisation de Dieu. Economie religieuse (Paris, CNRS Editions, 2013); Anthropologie des religions (second edition, Paris, La découverte, 2012); The Economics of religion (With Don Wood) (London, Emerald, 2011); Le bouddhisme en Occident (Paris, La Découverte, 2007); La sorcellerie (Paris: Le Cavalier Bleu Editions. 2005); La religion (Paris: Le Cavalier Bleu Editions. 2004); Bouddhisme et Occident. La diffusion du bouddhisme tibétain en France (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1999)



Inken Prohl
University of Heidelberg

Session Chair

Short bio
Inken Prohl is Professor of Religious Studies at Heidelberg University (since 2006). For several years she has been conducting fieldwork in Japan and Germany. Her research interests focus on modern transformations of Buddhism, approaches of ‚Material Religion’ as well as Religion and artificial intelligence. In cooperation with the project: Buddhism, Business and Believers she is currently working on new approaches to the field of Buddhism and consumption. Together with John Nelson she published the The Handbook of Contemporary Japanese Religions (Leiden: Brill 2012). Her publications also include Religiöse Innovationen: Die Shinto-Organisation World Mate in Japan (Reimer, 2005), Zen für Dummies (Wiley, 2010), “California 'Zen': Buddhist Spirituality Made in America“, in: Amerikastudien / American Studies Vol. 59, No. 2 (2014), S. 193-206 and “Aesthetics”, in: Plate, S. Brent (Hg.): Key Terms in Material Religion. London et al: Bloomsbury Academic 2015, S. 9-15.




Boris Rähme
Fondazione Bruno Kessler 

Session Chair

Short bio
Boris Rähme (Dr. phil. in Philosophy, Freie Universität Berlin, 2010), is a researcher at the Center for Religious Studies of Fondazione Bruno Kessler in Trento (Italy) and lecturer in Logic, Philosophy of Logic and Ontology at the University of Trento. He has been researcher and lecturer at FU Berlin, Visiting Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and has held research fellowships at the Universities of Sheffield and Helsinki. His main research interests are in social epistemology, philosophy of religion and the intersection between religious studies and theories of innovation. Rähme has published numerous articles in philosophical epistemology, theories of truth, religion and new technologies, and he is the author of the monograph Wahrheit, Begründbarkeit und Fallibilität (Ontos, De Gruyter, 2010). Forthcoming: Is Transhumanism a Religion? In G. Isetti, E. Innerhofer, H. Pechlaner (eds.), Religion in the Age of Digitization – Spirituality and Human Interaction, Routledge; Religion and Innovation: Charting the Territory, in B. Godin, Gérald Gaglio, D. Vinck (eds.), Handbook of Alternative Theories of Innovation, Edward Elgar.




Dario Rodighiero
MIT and Harvard University


Short bio
Dario Rodighiero is a designer and a digital humanist. Today he is a postdoctoral associate at MIT Comparative Media Studies and an affiliate at Harvard MetaLab. He combines humanities and technology by practicing design at the intersection of architecture, data visualization, social science, graphic and interaction design. The Swiss National Science Foundation is currently financing his position. His work focuses at different scales on the social dynamics of academia. After looking at individuals by designing the Affinity Map⁠, currently he develops the Worldwide Map of Research, a recommendation system for scholarly mobility making use of Artificial Intelligence. Among his publications: Rodighiero, D., & Romele, A. (2020). The Hermeneutic Circle of Data Visualization. Forthcoming in Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology, 24(2); Rodighiero, D., & Rigal, A. (2019). The Daily Design of Quantified Self. Swiss Informatics Digital Magazine (online). DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3463587; Rodighiero, D., & Cellard, L. (2019). Self-Recognition in Data Visualization. How Individuals See Themselves in Visual Representations. Interdisciplinary journal of social sciences, EspacesTemps.net (online). DOI: 10.26151/espacestemps.net-wztp-cc46




Beth Singler
Beth Singler is the Junior Research Fellow in Artificial Intelligence at Homerton College, University of Cambridge. Prior to this she was the post-doctoral Research Associate on the “Human Identity in an Age of Nearly-Human Machines” project at the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion. Beth explores the social, ethical, philosophical and religious implications of advances in Artificial Intelligence and robotics. As a part of her public engagement work she has produced a series of short documentaries. The first, ‘Pain in the Machine’, won the 2017 AHRC Best Research Film of the Year Award. She has also spoken on AI and human identity at the London Science Museum, Cheltenham Science Festival, the Barbican, the Being Human Festival, and the Cambridge Festival of Ideas. She has appeared at the Edinburgh Science Festival, Ars Electronica, IP Expo, and New Scientist Live. In 2019 she spoke at the Norwich Science Festival, the London Science Museum, and was interviewed by the New Scientist, Forbes, and the BBC, among others. Recent and forthcoming publications include "Existential Hope and Existential Despair in AI Apocalypticism and Transhumanism" in Zygon and “Origin and the End: Artificial Intelligence, Atheism, and Imaginaries of the Future of Religion”, in AI Narratives from OUP.


Oliviero Stock
Fondazione Bruno Kessler

Session Chair

Short bio

Oliviero Stock is an FBK-irst senior fellow. He has been at FBK-irst since 1988 and has been its director from 1997 to 2001. His activity is in artificial intelligence, mainly natural language processing, intelligent user interfaces, cognitive technologies, technology for cultural heritage appreciation, computational linguistic creativity. He is the author of over two hundred and sixty peer-reviewed papers and author or editor of twelve volumes, has been a member of the editorial board of a dozen scientific journals, and a keynote speaker at over eighty conferences.  O.S. has been Chairman of the European Coordinating Committee for Artificial Intelligence (ECCAI, now EURAI), President of the Association for Computational Linguistics and President of AI*IA, the Italian AI Association. Member of the Committee for the Best European Artificial Intelligence Dissertation Award, established by ECCAI (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015), Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of DFKI, the German Research Institute for AI, (2004-2019). He is an EURAI Fellow, a AAAI Fellow and a DFKI Fellow.  In 2019 he received a doctorate honoris causa from the University of Haifa.



Paolo Traverso
Fondazione Bruno Kessler

Session Chair

Short bio
Paolo Traverso is Director of the  Center for Information Technology - IRST at Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK ICT) since 2008. In FBK,  He has been involved and has been leading several research and industrial projects in the field of Artificial  Intelligence (AI),    Industry 4.0, Public Health, Smart Cities and Social Media. He contributed to research in automated planning with a novel technique called “planning as model checking”, which is now the basis for his work on supporting the automated composition and run-time monitoring of service oriented applications. He is member of the Scientific Advisory Board of DFKI (Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz ,  the main German research center in AI), of the Steering Committee,  and member of the Management Committee of the National Laboratory on Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Systems (funded in 2018 by CINI – National Interuniversity Consortium for Informatics). In 2005, he was nominated EurAi/ECCAI fellow “for pioneering work in the field of Artificial Intelligence, and outstanding service to the AI community”. Web page FBK, ResearchGate, GoogleScholar




Marco Ventura
Fondazione Bruno Kessler 

Session Chair

Short bio
Marco Ventura is Director of the Center for Religious Studies (ISR) at Fondazione Bruno Kessler and full professor (professore ordinario) with tenure at the Department of Law of the University of Siena. After a PhD at the University of Strasbourg he has visited the universities of London (UCL), Oxford, Strasbourg, Brussels (ULB), the Centro de Formação Jurídica e Judiciária of Macau, the Indian Law Institute in Delhi, the University of Cape Town, Al-Akhawayn University in Morocco and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University. He was a professor (hoogleraar) at the Faculty of Canon Law of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven from October 2012 to September 2015. From 2013 to 2015 he visited Vietnam as an expert in the dialogue between the European Union and the Vietnamese Committee on Religious Affairs. He is a member of the European Consortium for Church and State Research and of the Centre for Droit, Religion, Entreprise et Societé at the University of Strasbourg and CNRS. He is a member of the Editorial Board of the Ecclesiastical Law Journal (Cambridge University Press). His subjects include law and religion, canon law, church and state relationships, comparative religious laws, religious freedom, bioethics and biolaw. Ventura is the author of the following books: Procréer hors la loi (Strasbourg: Cerdic-publications, 1994), Pena e penitenza nel diritto canonico postconciliare (Napoli: ESI, 1996), La laicità dell’Unione europea (Torino: Giappichelli, 2001),  Religion and Law in Italy (Alphen aan den Rijn: Wolters Kluwer, 2013), Creduli e credenti. Il declino di Stato e Chiesa come questione di fede (Torino: Einaudi, 2014) and From Your Gods to Our Gods. A History of Religion in British, Indian and South African Courts Eugene (Cascade Books).