Monday, June 5, 2017

End Program

So 500 years after Marty Luther's little door redecoration, a church in Wittenberg, Germany, installed a "robot priest" to give blessings. It uses a touch screen, can dispense its words in five different languages and its hands light up.

There are a lot of responses to this exhibit, which the church says is mainly done as a way to spark discussion about technology's role in religious life and faith. One could note that this is, for many people, the perfect priest because it does only one thing: Bless them in a language of their choosing. In fact, for a significant slice of modern society, this idea represents their perfect God, since it would be a God who asked nothing of them and accepted everything they did as OK, no harm no foul.

It could be a sign that people almost always look for novelty spectacle instead of substance. You can print out the pre-recorded blessing the robot priest gave you, along with the scripture it quoted -- somehow that's way more exciting than the printed Bible that offers some context for that scripture?

All of those ideas occurred to me, but the one that jumped to the front was that this is all happening in Wittenberg, where Luther nailed his "95 Theses" to the church door in his own bid to start debate and reform what he saw as a corrupted church hierarchy and theology. Is a society that oohs and aahs over something that's the functional equivalent of a Zoltar machine capable of handling a debate with almost 100 talking points? Or would the bottom of the sheet of paper be crowded with everybody's "TL;DR" notation?

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