Science news at the speed of thought

About Machines Like Us

What is Machines Like Us?

Machines Like Us is a web-resource for those interested in evolutionary thought, cognitive science, synthetic life and artificial intelligence. It promotes the following concepts:

  1. Evolution is the guiding principle behind life on earth.
  2. Religions and their gods are human constructs, and subject to human foibles.
  3. Life and intelligence are emergent properties based upon fundamental mechanics, and, as such, are reproducible.
  4. Living organisms are magnificent machines—robust, dynamic, self-sufficient, precisely tuned to their environment—deserving our respect and study.

Machines Like Us provides daily science news, exclusive-interviews with leading researchers, science videos, and a variety of other resources for the discriminating reader.

What specific topics does Machines Like Us cover?

Machines Like Us topics include animal research as it relates to life and cognitive processes, anthropology, artificial intelligence, synthetic life, atheism and religion (as an impediment to science), biology and aging, brain and behavior, computer science, evolution, genetics, health and medicine, robotics, earth science, astronomy and cosmology, and general science and innovation that furthers our understanding of ourselves and the universe in which we live.

Who contributes to Machines Like Us?

Machines Like Us derives its content from a variety of sources: public news releases from universities and research institutions, original content written by MLU staff, and articles written by prominent scientists, researchers, teachers, and authors. Submissions are welcome for consideration at any time.

How does Machines Like Us select the scientists and researchers it interviews?

Machines Like Us strives to interview individuals whose work is relevant and innovative. We seek out those who express views that are controversial, profound, and/or serving in the public interest. If you know of a scientist or researcher whom you feel meets these criteria, or if you feel you do yourself, contact Machines Like Us and request an interview.

Does Machines Like Us promote atheism?

Strictly speaking, atheism is an indefensible position, just as theism is indefensible, for both are systems of belief and neither proposition has been (or is likely to be) proven anytime soon.

The rational position for the non-believer to take is that there is almost certainly no god, because no credible evidence exists to support the claim that god exists. This is a stronger position than agnosticism, which holds belief and non-belief on an equal footing.

Circumstantial evidence is often sited by the devoted as proof of god's existence, (words in holy books, alleged miracles, etc.), but no claims have stood up to scientific scrutiny, and none are reproducible in a controlled setting. Indeed, lack of hard evidence has contributed to nearly all gods throughout history being all but forgotten.

The essential point is that the non-believer holds the concept of "proof" to a higher standard than the believer, demanding evidence when those of faith do not. Indeed, faith, by definition, is confident belief or trust in something when faced with a lack of evidence. Some theists, for instance, insist that the Earth is 6,000 years old and cite certain passages in the Bible as the sole basis of their belief. Most geologists, on the other hand, belief that the Earth is about 4.54 billion years old, and can cite generations-worth of independent, scientific, peer-reviewed research to support their claim.

In general, then, we at Machines Like Us are "non-believers"; we feel that there is almost certainly no god, and go forth from that position. Science is an evidence-based discipline, and there is no credible evidence that god exists. If real and tangible evidence supporting god's existence is ever produced and accepted by the greater scientific community, Machines Like Us will be happy to change its point of view.

In her 2009 AAI lecture, noted astronomer Carolyn Porco put into words our thoughts completely.

Does Machines Like Us feel that science is compatible with religion?

No. Science is absolutely incompatible with religion.

Why is (fill in the blank) included on your Famous Atheists list, when I have heard/read that (s)he is not an atheist?

Machines Like Us makes every effort to keep its Famous Atheists list accurate. At some time in an individual's life he or she may have believed in god, wrote about their faith, and later become a non-believer (as was the case with Charles Darwin). This rarely happens the other way around. For this reason, finding a quote of faith by any particular individual does not necessarily confirm their belief in god later in their lives.

Some celebrities and politicians speak publicly of their faith, while privately holding atheistic views. To settle contradictory claims, Machines Like Us has in many instances simply contacted the individual in question and asked what his or her belief actually is.

Why does Machines Like Us include advertising on its pages?

Running a website as large as Machines Like Us takes considerable time, effort, and resources. Revenue earned through advertising—as well as donations from readers like you—is our only means of offsetting expenses and continuing to produce the quality content you depend on.

Number of articles currently in Machines Like Us archives: 77