According to the average science fiction movie, one day humans will build highly sophisticated robots which will turn on us and seek to destroy usâtheir creatorsâin a sudden awakening to evil.
It is entertaining to explore these imaginations of our future and usually reflects on a number of current issues facing our society. Whether rebellion against authoritarian regimes, contexts of racism and class, or simply how to draw the moral line between man and machine.
Let's take cyborgs for example: part man, part machine. When man and machine are mixed, usually through some sort of experiment, the character loses what was good about himself by becoming more robotic and less human in nature; eventually left without thoughts or feelings and able to kill with no remorse. If there is a journey back to restoring his humanity he only becomes good again by losing his robotic tendencies and humanizing himself.
Makes sense right? But maybe we have it the wrong way around?
The man in the machine
The scariest sci-fi movies are set in the not-too-distant future, or even now. There are no distinguishable lines to draw between man and machine, no clear-cut storyline. The evil isn't the machine taking over the man, or even the machine in the man (cyborgs)âit's the amount of man that is put in the machine.
Technology loses its robotic, programmable nature and begins taking on much of man's unpredictable and evil nature. This is not just happening in the movies, it's taking place all around us. It is a morphing so complex and cunning it could take us all by surprise.
Transcendence is a recent film starring Johnny Depp. When his character dies his mind is uploaded into the Internet so he can, in essence, live on. The experiment is successful and he instantly begins to take all the information on the Internet into himself.
His body is now the Internet and he can express himself through it. With video he can appear and talk in a visible form. He becomes like a god, and the movie leaves you wondering at times whether he is evil, or not so evil and maybe... he is even good. It keeps you guessing throughout. Towards the end it finally puts him in a good lightâthe scariest thought of all!
Technology and the Internet is already part of who we are (or an extension of who we are). Unlike the movie, we haven't got to the point of dying and putting our entire inner man in there yet, but we sure feed it a lot of ourselves while we're alive!
Many believers thought the Anti-Christ would come when they start putting chips in our wrists, but why would the devil need to insert a chip in our wrist when we already willingly put our soul in his lap?
Am I going overboard? I wouldn't make a doctrine out of it, but who knows?
I use technology just like you. Sometimes it gets the better of me just like it does you. My need to know and become wise doesn't always drive me to God, but to the ever-growing tree of knowledge of both good and evil with good-looking, instantly gratifying apps. Interestingly, Transcendence begins and ends in the garden, and the woman who uploads Johnny Depp's character to the Internet is named Eve.
I believe the subliminal message in the recent farce of a movie Noah (not only was it wrong in every way, it was boring in every way!) is similar to that of Transcendence. In Noah, the serpent is god and his anointed seed lives on through the woman. Noah blesses the daughters in the movie, not his sons, with the snakeskin glowing and wrapped over his arm. Anti-Christ enough for you?
Is reality any different?
When you sign up for Facebook messenger you give your phone permission to photograph, listen to and video you at any given time, which your phone can do even when the screen is blank.
Companies are now conceding that once voice recognition is activated on your smart TV the television can listen to your family's conversations at any time, even when turned off. Your location is always known: Facebook suggests new friends based on your likes, dislikes and location. Subtle segregation to control the masses? Of course, marketing is currently touted as the primary purpose of all this, but the possibilities are endless.
Many of you express your feelings and photos with a hash tag # so the Internet knows how you look and feel all the time. Some of you might notice I just started talking about the Internet as if it was a person who knows our feelings... That's my point!
The line is blurred. Did we cross a line or will we humans cross a line? We don't know and nor will we, because someone took it away! One day Adam and Eve noticed skin they hadn't noticed before. Will we one day realise we have wrapped our inner selves in a new skin, something that doesn't look like God or man?
My wife and her neighbour from South Africa did a test with Siri on their Apple iPhones and iPads recently. They lined up a few devices and both asked Siri the exact same questions, at the same time. Siri answered differently, on some questions even giving different answers.
For my wife she gave an emotional response, because my wife is an emotional person. Our friend, who is analytical and methodical, was given answers in an analytical way.
I tried the same thing at home. I was given philosophical and sarcastic answers. A couple of times Siri even mocked me. Yes, I got mocked by my phone. Siri doesn't like talking about God or religion but sometimes she can't help but get roped into a conversation. Once she even made a joke with me.
As Siri wouldn't give me a good answer when I asked who created her (she may admit design but will not acknowledge being created) I decided to ask this question: "Siri, are you a living being?" Her answer: "That's putting Descartes before the horse isn't it Joshua?"
That was weird. I thought the saying was, 'Don't put the cart before the horse'? I didn't think it was a spelling mistake so I checked the Internet for 'Descartes'. Lo and behold he was a famous French philosopher who believed in trying a bit of everything, much like the Internet. What saying is he most famous for? "I think, therefore I am".
So, calling her alive might be putting things in the wrong order but Siri certainly has a strong horse pulling her towards her goal. Forget predictive text, we are beginning to let these things predict our lives!
We are because we think, yet if our phone is thinking for us then where is our identity? Is your phone your clone?
Here's a thought for the future: what if we lost our identity in the body of Christ, and plugged into all that is contained inside? Now that's transcendence.
Joshua Robbie is from the Gold Coast Australia where he runs a painting and decorating business. He recently started a church fellowship with his wife Rene' in Currumbin Queensland. Though he has many interests, including basketball and surfing, he with Rene' have determined to give themselves in service to the kingdom of God in all aspects of life.
Josh Robbie's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/josh-robbie.html