Southern Evangelical Seminary to Unveil New Humanoid Robot on February 12

Robot Will Be Tool for Students as They Learn About Ethics and Technology; Featured at SES Apologetics Conference This Fall

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.edu) is already a leader in apologetics education, but the school is taking steps to become a ground-breaker in another area—science and technology research.

On Feb. 12, SES will unveil its new NAO humanoid robot that will be used for faculty and student research into the ethical dilemmas that can arise with the use of advanced technology in everyday life.

“As we approach the unveiling of Southern Evangelical Seminary’s new NAO robot,” said SES President, Dr. Richard Land, “we are excited about the learning and research opportunities for our students. Seminary education at SES involves even more than preaching, teaching and church leadership. Through this new acquisition, our students will be able to delve into the study of robotics, bionics, human enhancement, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology, along with the ethical considerations that arise in each of these arenas. It is our desire to be on the leading edge of what is before our culture in all areas. It is in this way that we can influence church leadership and thereby impact what messages are being delivered to equip Christians to defend their faith at all costs.”

The NAO robot also features various communication devices, including a voice synthesizer, LED lights and two high-fidelity speakers. NAO robots have never been used at a seminary making SES the world’s first seminary to do so, but have been used in research at prestigious universities and research labs around the world, including MIT, Tokyo University, USC and Carnegie Mellon. These top-notch organizations have used the robot for research in topics such as computer science, human-machine interaction and the social sciences. NAO, which has also been used in the education of autistic students, boasts face and object recognition, automatic speech recognition, text-to-speech in seven languages and whole body motion.

At SES, Dr. Kevin Staley, Associate Professor of Theology, will spearhead the robot research. He is an expert in the application of a biblical worldview to moral issues involving advanced technologies. Specifically, his specialty lies in investigating the ethical issues that surround robotics, artificial intelligence and human enhancement technologies. Dr. Staley wrote his thesis on this very topic: “Imago Dei in Machina? A Theological Reflection on the Ethics of Man and Machine in Communion.”

At 11 a.m., Dr. Staley will open and unveil the SES NAO robot to faculty, students, guests and the media. Q&A and interviews with Staley and Land are scheduled for noon that day. A naming contest for Southern Evangelical Seminary’s new NAO humanoid robot is also planned, in which students and the public may participate. Details will be released on Feb. 12.

The new NAO robot will also be a “featured guest” at the 2014 Southern Evangelical Seminary 21st annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics, set for October 10 and 11, 2014, at Calvary Church, 5801 Pineville-Matthews Road, Charlotte.

Registration is now open for the 2014 conference that will focus on “Defending a Never-Changing Faith in an Ever-Changing World” and equipping Christians to answer questions about their beliefs rationally and intelligently as they explore the field of apologetics—especially important as it becomes more crucial for Christians to defend their faith in an often faithless world.

Several speakers for the conference have been confirmed, including at least three with expertise in science:

•  Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson, Deputy Director for Life Sciences at the Institute for Creation Research, has conducted research on the investigation of molecular mechanisms of biological change from a young-earth perspective.
• Brian Thomas, Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research, is responsible for contributing news and magazine articles, editing, and speaking on creation issues. He is the author of “Dinosaurs and the Bible.”
• Dr. John West, Senior Fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, is Associate Director of Discovery’s Center for Science & Culture and Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs. His research examines the impact of Darwinian science on public policy and culture during the past century.

For more information on this fall’s conference, visit http://conference.ses.edu/.

Dr. Richard Land has taught as a visiting or adjunct professor for several seminaries and has authored or edited more than 15 books. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oxford University in England and his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University. Land also earned a Master of Theology degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he received the Broadman Seminarian Award. He is the 2013 Watchman Award recipient for his leadership on moral and cultural issues and has dedicated his life to being a “watchman on the wall.” Land served as president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention’s official entity assigned to address social, moral and ethical concerns, with particular attention to their impact on American families, from 1988 to 2013.

Southern Evangelical Seminary is a leader in apologetics education—teaching students to defend their faith and talk intelligently, passionately and rationally about what they believe and why they believe it. Many courses focus on considering societal issues from a Christian worldview, delve into scientific apologetics and contemplate creation research. 

Notable professors have joined the SES ranks in recent years, pointing to the fact that Southern Evangelical Seminary is focused on recruiting talent and building courses of study to remain at the top of the apologetic educational institutions in the U.S.

Southern Evangelical Seminary has been ranked No. 1 for its General Christian Apologetics Graduate Program by TheBestSchools.org’s “Top 10 Graduate Programs in Christian Apologetics.” For more information, visit www.ses.edu or call (800) 77-TRUTH.

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For more information on SES or to set up an interview, contact Deborah Hamilton at dhamilton@hamiltonstrategies.com, 215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096.

Southern Evangelical Seminary is an accredited Christian college and seminary in Matthews, N.C., offering a wide variety of degrees including bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. Programs can be completed through residence in the Charlotte, N.C., area or online. The award-winning education at SES is distinctively Christian, focused on evangelism and world-engaging defense of the Christian faith—Christian Apologetics.

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