Thursday, April 12, 2007

Technology and the belief of God

We were discussing an as yet unpublished paper (thus - no link) about technology and Religion and there always seems to be allot of qualified people offering the scientific and technical reasons why God 'cant exist' or religion isn't true.

Clearly, the three most common Web sites are porn, health and religious ones. Obviously, porn and health are not surprising, but religion as number three is.

That should be telling us something. People want their porn without going to seedy theaters and getting it in brown paper packages. People crave religion and spirituality without having it crammed down their throats in a Church, Synagogue, Mosque (or wherever).

Anonymity and having the user be the one in charge have driven the growth of the internet as well as the online porn and spirituality engines. Technology has allowed thousands - if not millions - of people to begin to develop sexually and spirituality outside of the traditional power structures or social norms.

So if the role of religion, organized or not, is to meet human need on a social or community level, then surely technology - which arguably has transformed the way groups of people communicate - has a role in religion and thus, society as a whole.

But Plato once said that, 'man does not discover anything - he merely exhumes what's fed into him' so I did a quick poll of my students, friends and colleagues in this space and asked them:
'What do you think was the science or technology invention that most damaged peoples ability to believe or understand religion?'
Below is the top 10 of my unscientific research - I checked around on the net and these 'inventions' seem to be supported but not necessarily in this order. Either way - I was a bit surprised.

1. Artificial Intelligence
2. Creation of a standardized and free education system
3. Literacy
4. The printed and freely available Bible
5. Availability of the Pill (the sexual revolution)
6. Transportation and mobility
7. Application of economic theory and the creation of the 'middle class'
8. The telescope
9. Mathematics that led to 'logic' theory
10. Psychiatry (discovery of the 'Self')

So where will religion and technology be in the mid-future?

Clearly - there will be no centralized church structures - mainstream religion will finally understand and embrace telecommuting, so to speak.

The definition of a religious place or center will have to be re-imagined and the concept - or even the believability - of a God in the context of a digital world and in terms of cause-and-effect science will remain 'untestable voodoo'.

But isn't that what most non-IT people think of IT? Try to explain 'usability' to an tax accountant and you know what I mean.

But in the end - geeks know that IT isn't voodoo - and maybe religion isn't either.

PS - kudos to Vonnegut - he beat the this sad little system of ours.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hey Galipeau - you still around? Part II

Hey y’all – too busy to write these days – my plan to take a few months off didn’t quite work out as well as I thought. Four projects – three pending funding applications - two papers – a book review and a 'wait and see' … Ubi bene, ibi patria!!

Couple of ideas that I am playing with and a few comments about what’s going on.


Thought this article about using Google maps in security zones was interesting (thx to Natascha in Darfur).

Nothing new here but the way it ‘could’ be used may be interesting. A new approach about to begin? Sent it off to a UN friend (and excellent photographer) that is working on a large project in this direction.


Gigi poked me a while back with this ( and I am certainly enlightened.

A cognitive approached to knowledge and the impact of information are an interesting mashup but how does one capture this. Jeff Hawkins, best known as co-founder of Palm and Handspring, may have it.

HCI, AI and Robotics are going through some of the greatest re-thinking in it's history and rightly so - the scientists had it all wrong - cognitive theory is a small world but is starting to have a great influence on how the near- and far-future will really turn out.

Currently writing an hypothesis of using hierarchical temporal memory (HTM) theory, coupled with face recognition on a large scale project that I am working on.


Nothing new so I have been following this latest 'development' on blog security and the 'code of conduct', etc.

I think that 'bloggers that blog about blogs that blog about themselves' (BTBABTBAT) should realize that no one with an independent mind really cares about this. It’s a basic marketing 101 play - not even a grad level tactic.

Understanding that blogs are simply websites that people update often - no different than when AOL 1.0 for Windows was released in 1993 started the 'online personal opinion' movement - why would there special rules? Not that I condone the threats but is Kathy Sierra the first person on the Internet to be threatened?

It’s one of the few times that I’ll side with Jeff Jarvis but seriously? If big media wasn’t pulling the BTBABTBAT puppet strings on this story - this would be a non-issue. I’m bored already.


++ Fakesteve
++ Simputers – could use this for a project
++ bootleg papers (not sure how I got these) by Derrick de Kerckhove about technopsychology - an exploration of collective consciousness as it is applied to mobility ... another near-future project potential


++ Zero 7
++ K&D Sessions (old skool)
++ Frou Frou


++ In late 2003, Google had 8 petabytes of hard-disk storage. As of last week, the Google cluster now has 8 petabytes of collective RAM. About the size of the human brain. Hmmmm.

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