Religion has continuously declined worldwide in the 21st century, including in the United States. There are different ideas as to the factors that contribute to this decline. However, a recent paper suggests that automation in the form of artificial intelligence and robotics is a primary driver in the current downward trend of global religiosity.
In a recent paper, researchers argued that automation in the form of robotics and AI is the real driver of the recent trend. A series of experiments showed that exposure to automation at the national and local levels is linked to a reduction in religiosity.https://t.co/LklYwP0AyU
— FFRF (@FFRF) August 31, 2023
An international team of researchers recently published a paper titled “Exposure to Automation Explains Religious Declines” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The report sought to explain the decline of religion amidst the technological advancements in the 21st century.
“When people can use technology to predict the weather, diagnose and treat illness, and manufacture resources, they may rely less on religious beliefs and practices,” the paper said.
Although technological advancement has been considered a primary factor in religion’s decline globally, religiosity hasn’t seen a massive drop during historical periods where technology significantly developed, notably the Industrial Revolution, the Space Race during the Cold War, and the rise of Personal Computers.
This has some big ‘correlation isn’t causation’ energy
— Robert Wrigley (@wrigley_r) August 31, 2023
The researchers presented a hypothesis as to why religiosity only dropped massively as recently as the 21st century. It’s not technology itself that reduces religiosity, but automation, mainly in AI and robotics, two technological advancements that only became prominent in the 21st century.
“This claim is based on recent research on lay perceptions of automation. Such studies show that people ascribe automation technology with abilities that border on supernatural,” the researchers wrote.
“Historically, people have deferred to supernatural agents and religious professionals to solve instrumental problems beyond the scope of human ability. These problems may seem more solvable for people working and living in highly automated spaces,” they added.
I feel like the forced #christofascist movement is the driving force for exits out of religion.
And patriarchal religions.
And f’ers like Tate teaching young impressionable guys who to groom & abuse women so they won’t have confidence to leave them, all in the name of !
— Alexis (@AlexisCeule) August 31, 2023
The researchers conducted four experiments to test their hypothesis. The first tracked religious decline from 2006 to 2019 across 68 countries through a survey question with more than two million respondents, which said, “Is religion an important part of your daily life?”
They reported that exposure to robotics “was robustly and negatively associated with religiosity across the globe.” The correlation remains valid even after factors such as GDP per capita, telecom development, and energy development have been considered.
People are finally getting access to real information. Learning critical thinking skills, science and logic.
— Indictment Of Humanity (@IndictmentOf) August 31, 2023
The second experiment examined the decline in religious belief in the United States, comparing religiosity rates and robotics growth in metropolitan areas from 2008 to 2016.
“Metropolitan areas with higher levels of robotics growth (+1 standard deviation) experienced an approximately 3% yearly decline in religion each decade,” the paper said.
For the third experiment, the researchers followed 46,680 individuals in a specific community from 2009 to 2020, measuring their self-reported belief in God and their job exposure to automation. They discovered that the religiosity of individuals who worked at jobs with higher exposure to AI and robotics significantly dropped over time.
Seems rather unlikely AI could have such influence given its novelty. Far more important I suspect is simply a good education & greater understanding of the world/ universe we live in. Oh, & revulsion at the persistent abuse of women/ children by men in religious positions.
— Donald Coppen (@donaldcoppen) August 31, 2023
“People with jobs that were one standard deviation higher than the mean on occupational exposure to AI were 45% less likely to believe in God compared to people in occupations that had a mean level of exposure to AI,” the paper said.
The last experiment was conducted at the most local level. The researchers followed 238 employees in an organization, directly measuring their exposure to AI and religious beliefs. They found that AI exposure was connected to a drop in religious belief.
Technologies like the internet have hurt religion... Automation or robotics? Not so much. But any tech that increases quality of life or increases life expectancy probably hurts most religions.
Also advances in neuro sciences explaining human interactions hurts religions...
— Chaos Crow (@WarSmith8) August 31, 2023
While the study's results were correlative and do not necessarily imply causation, they strongly support the researchers’ hypothesis that automation leads to a drop in religiosity.
“Our studies demonstrate that automation is linked to religious decline across multiple religious traditions (e.g., Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist), world regions (e.g., North America, South Asia, and Oceania), and levels of analysis,” they noted.