Saturday, 7 October 2017

Robots now, and in the future

Usually the first thing that is turned off is the voice. I don't know how you get on, but I find checkout robots impatient. Why do they have to rush me, when surely I should be determining the pace? Robots 1, humans 0.

daily mail

On the other hand, car handling is superb as mini robots temper my steering, braking, or acceleration. And if I'm on completely new territory, a satnav is fantastic! Robots 1, humans 1.

I loved the question a swordfish (top class name) lad asked me when we were in the middle of a discussion about robots. Will they make us lazy? The choice is here. Sometimes we talk as if robots are a thing of the future, but already they challenge us. The TV remote makes us lazy. Washing machines are a fantastic time saver. Every new invention presents us with choice. When I get an electric buggy will I always sit in it, or only for the journeys I can't manage? Do I use a car for short distances when I could easily walk or cycle? Am I lazy?

Then there's the ghastly debate about automatic weapons that allow mad men (few women) to spray an innocent crowd with bullets. The simple robot that changes empties to live has much to answer for! It boils down to whether we control them, or they us.

In my prayers I find myself imaging an ordinary Japanese family, and wondering how they feel when North Korean missiles fly overhead. The rhetoric and sabre rattling are intensifying, so some disaster seems more likely. Who's in charge of these war robots?


Deterrence works at a domestic level, so we have locks on our doors as a proportionate response to the perceived threats. It would be crazy to have machine guns, or booby traps that could blow up half our neighbours. A balance makes sense. Better still that there's so much trust that we don't need locks.

We are constantly being challenged at domestic, community, and international levels to make wise choices. And of course that gift is part of what makes us human, it's the gift given by God in the garden of Eden. So instead of laziness, let's choose peace. This prayer has been used in our Churches for 550 years:

O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed: Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that both, our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that by thee we being defended from the fear of our enemies may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Amen to that.