Believing in bits: Digital media and the supernatural

2019-10-15T13:45:41Z (GMT) by Simone Natale Diana Pasulka
Today religion and spirituality infuse digital and technological environments. These in turn produce new forms of religious and spiritual belief. As technologies that compute numbers, digital media apparently epitomize everything that is considered scientific and rational. Yet people experience the effects of digital devices and algorithms in their everyday lives through the lenses of magic and the supernatural. Algorithms are said to have the capacity to "read minds" and predict the future; Artificial Intelligence is seen as an opportunity to overcome death and achieve immortality through singularity; and avatars and robots are accorded a dignity that traditional religions restrict to humans. The essays in Believing in Bits advance the idea that religious beliefs and practices have become inextricably linked to the functioning of digital media. How did we come to associate things such as mind reading and spirit communications with digital technologies? Does the dignity accorded to the human and natural worlds within traditional religions translate to gadgets, avatars, or robots? How does the internet's help blur the boundaries between what is considered fiction and fact? The essays collected in this volume address these and similar questions, challenging and redefining established understandings of digital media and culture by employing the notions of belief, religion, and the supernatural.

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