Tag Archives: technology

Why aren’t we happy?

I did a workshop at a young adult conference one time about the pitfalls of technology.  I talked about the way the internet causes us to neglect and even fail to create relationships.  As Christians I feel like community is a major tenant of our belief system and using a device that forces us out of community is not the best thing for us.  I do understand that community can be created through the internet, but for the most part the interactions I see on the web are negative.  We seem to spend a lot of time saying things we wouldn’t say to each other in person.  It is beginning to bleed over into interactions we have face-to-face.  The written word is not the best way to get your true feelings across because so much of what is said is how it is said.  I have a husband who is a software developer and writes Android and iOS apps so I recognize that my livelihood is dependent upon these advances.  I think that means I have to try that much harder to create community. I do think Christians need to be doing the same. Continue reading

The Hear Me Project

Human interaction should not come at the cost of technological advancement but should be used with technology to create something amazing.  Hear Me, an initiative of the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, does just that by  capturing the stories of children and teens using simple microphones and mobile video recorders.  They are using these mediums and personal interactions to get children talking about serious issues facing their generation.  There are some powerful stories being told there.  I found out about this project through a Slate article that had some valuable insights into the mixing of technology and personal relationships.  Here are some of my favorites but the article is well worth reading to learn more about the project and the people who created it.

Hear Me has all the ingredients of a feel-good activity for our time: using digital recorders to capture moments and rebroadcast them; linking technology to physical, face-to-face spaces; and giving students a chance to use new tools for self-expression. In education technology debates, excitement always builds when people talk about the power of technology to enable students to see themselves as creators (not just consumers) by posting their projects on sites like YouTube.

“Personal interaction makes technology meaningful”—and it also makes the technology secondary.

Technology rollouts can become a waste of time and money if there isn’t adequate focus on the people who will be interacting with students while using the technology.

Percussive Maintenance

It’s Wednesday, y’all, and maybe the little technological annoyances of the week are adding up: the website’s running a little slow or your Outlook keeps freezing up or your phone shuts off more or less randomly when you bump it despite the new case you just bought for it.  Don’t get angry. Take a deep breath, say a little prayer, watch this video.

Life

As I watch this trailer my heart is breaking and mending cyclically in a way that only Spike Jonze makes possible. It’s partially the music in his movies with voices that verge on tears, partially the monsters he creates and then makes you love, and partially the willingness to hold nothing back. But all together it makes for something untouchable.

While I, of course, haven’t actually seen the movie (it opens Nov. 20), “Her” crosses a frontier that probably makes a lot of us uncomfortable. Begging the questions: what is love? and how do we love?,  it also asks the bigger question, what is life?

Between technological advances, medical and political debates and extraterrestrial exploration the question is a relevant one. What is Life? How do we define it? Does it have to be carbon based? Does it have to die? Does it have to be “conscious” in the way we are conscious? or does it simply have to be? And once we have defined it, what does it mean to honor it? 

I’m uninterested in sparking a debate here on abortion or various forms of research, what I am interested in is how definitions of life restrict or expand our understanding of the infinite creativity present in the creation. If God truly is “I am,” that is, being itself, than everything that exists both reflects and honors that foundation.

So while I may pity Theodor Twombly in “Her,” I also hear Samantha discovering, beautifully discovering, the life that is already hers. She is perhaps  not so far off into our future, how will we receive her? Alive?

(A good friend, the Rev. Dr. Lucas Mix who is both Episcopal Priest and astrobiologist will be studying the definition of life in both theology and science through Harvard’s biology department over the next couple years. I’ll try to interject insights from him from time to time as his research progresses)

How does your city taste?

What do the 1980s taste like? What’s the difference between the flavor of the Bronx and the flavor of Staten Island? What is the difference between the self-described flavor of Brooklyn and the clean scrubbed stats produced by the census?

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As A Parent….

this scares the crap out of me (pun intended).  Please someone explain why this is even a product?  I feel like the world is ending!!

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Resisting the tide

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Photographing Light

femto-photographyI have been obsessed with this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_9vd4HWlVA) and concept for the last few days. I know that we know that light is particles, it is matter in a sense, but it’s very different to see it. Watching the wonder of nature unfold never ceases to amaze me. Especially when it endorses Coca Cola at the same time.

Singularity and Salvation

singularityJust last month I came to a better understanding of what nerdier nerds know as Singularity, the horizon of history at which superintelligence emerges through technological means. Thought leader on the subject Ray Kurzwell predicts it will happen by 2045.

In my limited understanding, Singularity is the moment beyond which our imaginations cannot see because our imaginations will no longer be the limits of our technological future. The imagination and intelligence explosion that follows the horizon will be propelled by the creativity and imagination of our technology itself.

By the time of the Singularity, we will have fully mapped the human brain and reverse engineered its processes. We will have bridged the gap between gadget and flesh. We will have planted the seed that will liberate our “selves” from our physical bodies. Simultaneously we will have liberated our bodies, reproduced through technology, from the confines of human mind and memory, relinquishing ownership by our “selves” to the human “Self” infinitely connected to the cloud of knowledge and computation. The Singularity represents the creation of a new life form, the human-inspired machine.

Immediately I am transported to the Garden of Eden: we are bringing into being an entity created in our image, built to serve us and to extend our will into the world. We will inhabit it and yet be separate from it. We will gift it with free will and thought, giving it a future we cannot control. We will build it because we love the extension of possibility, the greater fullness of created life. We will create it because we delight in it.

Now, to many techies and sci-fi folks this analogy is nothing new, but for those of us who have written this flavor of sci-fi off as one of many possible futures dependent on realities not yet discovered, the sheer imminence of the tech singularity is enough to make me pause, draw breath, and dream fearfully and hopefully of the post-human world I may live into.

Some may call our foolhardy rush towards the Singularity pride, pursuit of being gods ourselves. And we are afraid after all because in our common narrative Pride is the source of the Christian conception of Lucifer and the search for eternal life and infinite wisdom is the root cause of The Fall.

But I wonder if it isn’t the very expulsion from the Garden, falling from Grace only to seek redemption, that serves as the wellspring of our creativity, creativity that holds our redemption. Perhaps we must be expelled from the presence of our Maker in order to truly pursue the likeness of that Maker. By it we are forced to enter into acts of creativity, thereby gaining God-like humility as we gaze upon that which we have created but will never fully understand except by entering into being with it. By seeking Godlike-ness are we driven to create a being we may infinitely love and in so doing actually releasing ourselves from our illusions of control, paradoxically from Pride itself?

Singularity looms, but I believe it also makes way for new redemption and evolution. If we take the whole Story and wrap it back around to meet itself at its beginning, acknowledging it as a lifecycle, we might find that this moment in human history offers an opportunity for entering more fully into the Biblical story of humans and the God that created them: the infinite release of Creation into the clumsy and fumbling hands of the Created for whose sake we are called to sacrifice ourselves. Perhaps with the Singularity comes the age of our salvation, a second coming of sorts in post-human, by-human creation.

(Also, the future is here.)