Will robotic spirituality transform the world of faith?

By Mark A. Kellner

At two ends of the technological spectrum, computer technology is ramping up to either make God more accessible or to replace Him, at least in one key respect, media reports indicate.

In one instance, Gabriele Trovato, a roboticist who teaches at Waseda University in Japan has created a “saint” robot able to dispense Scripture verses and advice on the spot. Dubbed SanTO, an abbreviation of Sanctified Theomorphic Operator, the device was designed to mimic the statuettes of saints popular among members of the Roman Catholic Church.

Confessing his fears about tomorrow, Trovato hears this in response, according to the Wall Street Journal report: “From the Gospel according to Matthew,” it says, “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

SanTO has arrived on the scene two years after BlessU-2, built around an ATM machine chassis, debuted to offer benedictions in seven languages as part of the Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau Germany’s observance of 500 years of the Protestant Reformation. “You can say it’s a blessing robot. You can say it’s a machine that reads blessings,” said the Rev. Fabian Vogt, spokesman for the group, told Religion News Service at the time.


No to a “Pastor in a Chip”

But while some welcome the addition of technology to theology, others, such as Manhattan College professor Robert Geraci, who’s written about artificial intelligence, resist the notion of trading a pastor for a processor chip. “I don’t think we want to give up on those kinds of human interactions. I don’t even personally really want to give up on my mailman,” Geraci said.

But it’s not just robot-aided religion that’s on the horizon. How about a Google chip implanted in the human brain to provide access to the world’s knowledge on the fly? According to Britain’s Sun newspaper, one expert in the field of artificial intelligence says that could happen within the next twenty years, changing things for school children and even for retirees.

“‘GOOGLE brain’ implants could mean the end of school, as anyone will be able to learn anything instantly,” the newspaper reported. “Nikolas Kairinos, founder and CEO of Fountech.ai, says that technology could improve our lives.”

According to the report, a “Google brain” chip would put the world’s largest search engine “in your head, and that's not far-fetched. It'll be like having a really smart assistant that will almost think like you.”

Writing at a blog devoted to educational technology, Kairinos said, “When it comes to AI in learning, we are only just scratching the surface. There will still be a natural period of trial and error, but we shouldn’t think that tailored learning through AI is something that we won’t see for decades.” He added, “While flying cars and cyborgs are not something we should envisage happening anytime soon, existing AI technology could drastically transform the way humans are able to learn.”

Was a Brain Implant Prophesied?

Having such an implant might raise as many questions as it solves, however. Who would get these chips, and what advantage would it give them over the rest of the world’s population? How could we be sure the information received are not only correct, but free of biases? And what would such technology do to school exams and standardized testing, such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)? What value would a perfect SAT score have if it came via an Internet search?

Believe it or not, your Bible prophesied a time when such things as a “Google brain” chip might be possible. In Daniel 12:4, an angel said to the prophet Daniel, “Shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”

If the implantation of a brain-enhancing microchip isn’t a way to increase knowledge, what is? And if “a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing,” as the saying goes, what might a lot of knowledge do?

But perhaps the thing believers should concentrate on isn’t so much acquiring knowledge as getting wisdom. Knowledge, as Pastor Doug Batchelor once commented, can teach you how to drive an automobile, but it’s wisdom that keeps you operating the car safely.

That explanation came from a Bible study called The Humility of Heavenly Wisdom, which you can find here, free of charge. The important difference between knowledge and wisdom is outlined and it’s worth your time to investigate this vital teaching message.

Would you like to learn more about the prophecies found in the book of Daniel? Then the Bible study The Time of the End or the End of Time contains the answers you’re looking for. There’s much more about the end times you can learn, and this lesson will point you in the right direction.

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