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Assumed and Assimilated

Words of Life / Salvation Army
The Truth Network Radio
May 22, 2022 1:11 am

Assumed and Assimilated

Words of Life / Salvation Army

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May 22, 2022 1:11 am

This week in our series, “Discipled by Algorithms”, Bernie Dake and Jason Thacker discuss how quickly we, as a society, have adopted new technologies. In this episode, Jason encourages us to pause and study how new tech may impact our lives. Rather than simply handing our kids new tablets and phones, let’s slow down and teach our kids healthy habits when it comes to technology.


Series: Discipled by Algorithms

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Hi, this is Bernie Dake. Welcome to the Salvation Army's Words of Life.

Welcome back to Words of Life. I'm Bernie Dake. And I'm Cheryl Gillum. We are now in our third episode of the series, Discipled by Algorithms. This is a series of conversations I had with a guy named Jason Thacker. He's a professor, author, and expert. He's an expert in the field of technology and ethics. If you've missed any of these episodes and want to learn more about Jason, visit This week, Jason discusses how we as a society have begun adopting technology so quickly that we fail to pause and ask how they may impact us negatively. Wow.

Yeah, so full disclosure, doing the interview with Jason when our producer was telling me about it, I was a little nervous. I didn't actually understand the whole idea of algorithms. And then the idea of how connected we are is a whole nother level. So a great example is, and he talked about his children and how they use devices in the home, or like the Apple Watch or devices that we use to remind us to stand up or get a walk in or, hey, your your email is vibrating your wrist every time there's a new email. I mean, it's crazy how connected we are. Right. And so you can you're just not even thinking about it anymore. Right. And that can be problematic.

Well, they and they learn your browsing preferences, your shopping preferences, your what the things that you're just looking at, reading habits or, you know, the algorithms of your life. Right. Have you ever just said something about a certain product and then you go on a certain site and all of a sudden you see ads for that kind of thing? Right.

That's crazy. Yeah. Well, we know that you will enjoy this conversation. We know that you will enjoy this episode.

If you are interested whatsoever in technology and how you can use it for evangelism. This is the series for you. That's good. That's assuming as the song goes. No, you know, she'll be there. Sorry.

Author of The Age of A.I. Jason, welcome back. Thank you for having me. We are recording these episodes because our producer read an article that you wrote and it just made his mind go spinning into these different ideas. We're so glad that you're here. If you've listened to the previous episodes, you know already that the conversation really revolves around technology and the idea of artificial intelligence.

And can we redeem that? And we're doing deep dives into all this stuff, which is one of Jason's. Specialties. Today, we want to talk about, you know, technology being assumed and assimilated.

Now, I'm going to be honest for our listeners. I've always tried to be transparent, even those two words together with with technology. I'm not sure I understand what the statement is. So you say in the book, technology is often assumed and assimilated rather than questioned and examined. Help me understand that.

Yeah. I mean, we live in a technological society. We live in a digital age. Everything about our lives in some sense has been has is incorporated with technology now, whether it's our coffee makers to our thermostats, to our cars, to our devices that are on us. And often we kind of have this bent toward if there's a problem, there must be a technology.

There must be an app for that was the old Apple phrases that there's an app for that. And the idea is that when we see problems in society, we just naturally think there has to be a technical solution for it. And what I mean by that statement of that, we often assume and assimilate it, is that we just assume technologies all around us at all times. And we just assimilate it, meaning we bring it into our lives and we don't question it.

We don't ask the hard questions. We don't say, you know, not just can we, but should we, which is really the question of ethics, is should we do something? Should we use this technology? Should I give this device to my children?

Should I buy this new technology or this new experience? And that's the question. As Christians, I think we need to slow down a little bit in this age that prioritizes speed and efficiency and going faster, better, stronger, and say, is this really the best thing for me?

It may very well be. It may be a very good application and a good tool that we should use. But I think one of the ways that we can cultivate wisdom, especially as a virtue in today's society, is to slow down a little bit, whether that's misinformation online and just assuming whatever I read online has to be true, to slow down and verify, to check sources, not just to share something without reading it.

I mean, that's a whole conversation. We could have just about misinformation and conspiracy theories, but even goes into other technologies is just because we can do something doesn't doesn't mean we should. And that's what I mean is slowing down, asking those hard questions and questioning these technologies about what are they? What are they doing to us?

How are they forming, shaping us like we've talked about in previous episodes? I mean, we've talked about the challenge of sitting around a table over lunch and just kind of learning more about each other's family. And you said something about your father that was kind of interesting related to technology. I don't want to put you on the spot other than to say you mentioned that your dad was an amputee and there's technology that exists that could make his life better.

But is is it worth it? Kind of frame that idea for our listeners. So I think especially in terms of medical technologies, we have wonders that we never looked at. And one of the things that we also thought were possible, whether it's overcoming cancer, whether it's being able to restore something that someone lost, whether it's movement or hearing or eyesight or what have you, is that technology can be used in really God honoring glorifying ways to restore the uses of things, the brokenness of our world and the sickness and death that we see around us. Not to ultimately overcome death. We know that.

But to help us kind of navigate a lot of these challenges better. And so a few years ago, he was diagnosed with a condition where they had to amputate his leg. And when they did that, I mean, he now has a prosthetic and he's able to walk again. And there are even new technologies really on the horizon of being able to have robotic limbs. And that sounds crazy. Sci fi Star Wars Luke in his hand and stuff like that.

That stuff is not just a sci fi kind of sci fi story. In many ways, it's becoming a reality. They're still prohibitively expensive for most people.

But to be able to restore that type of use. And these can be good ways to be able to use technology. But then the question becomes, should we just upgrade ourselves? Are we just essentially machines? And this is kind of in many ways where our culture by and large believes in a more naturalistic or materialistic type of understanding is that there's nothing unique and special about what it means to be human. And especially it's created in God's image, which I talk a lot about in the book kind of framing up what does it mean to be human? And that's really where you get into some of these really interesting questions, especially in ethics, about the nature of technology, what it's doing to us, how it's shaping and forming us. And not only how we view other people, but even what does it mean to be human?

How do we view ourselves? And so I think there's God honoring uses of these technologies, like being able to have a robotic limb to be able to restore something that was lost, but the time that we think we need to upgrade ourselves as if we need to become super humans or become like gods. That's when you start to get into some really thorny ethical situations that I think need a lot of wisdom, nuance and care.

Absolutely. Now, Jason's talking about his book, The Age of AI. I wonder, did you bring some extra books we could give to our listeners if they were to call in or write in and tell us what they're thinking about these episodes?

I would be happy to give you some books. I'm going to make a promise to the first listener that writes in about this episode. We're going to send you a signed copy of Jason's book so you can check it out on your own time.

Jason, sometimes we make a joke. Well, I read it online. It must be true.

You know, if it's on the Internet, it's true. I'm not sure young people even know what a library is anymore because we've got Google and Siri and the things that are out there that help us just find the answers to all of life's questions. If you could kind of help us, how can we approach that daily in a healthy way? Well, as we've talked about, technology is forming and shaping us. As we said in a previous episode, it's discipling us. And what I mean by that is it's shaping how we view not only God, ourselves, but even the nature of truth. We see something online and we just assume it must be true, especially if it confirms some of the biases we already have or if it aligns with our political and ideological kind of understandings of the world. And so we just assume it's true just because it's online. And while we might make kind of jokes about that, well, obviously not everything on the Internet is true. It's interesting the way that social media shapes how we view what's reality and what's truth. I mean, a story can go viral.

A tweet can have thousands and thousands and thousands of tweets or an article can be shared numerous times. That's completely false. It's a false narrative. It's fake news. It's a conspiracy theory. And so by this point, by using that language, we naturally kind of have emotions kind of evoke from some listeners of, you know, fake news and things like that. Reality, we live in a misinformation age in some sense is that the things that we see online are not always true.

Sometimes they're intentionally distorted. Sometimes they're unintentionally where there's lack of context for something. And that gets back to that question we were talking about where technology causes to go faster and better and stronger. But sometimes speed isn't always wisdom, isn't always care. It always it is always nuance or full of context. And so just because we see something in our news feed, I mean, we've seen technology companies recently start to introduce these things where you try to retweet something and it says, do you want to read the article first or something? Hey, why don't you read this or, you know, let's provide some more context. And, you know, is it foolproof? No.

Wow. But it's what it's doing is it's causing us to slow down. It's adding a little friction to say maybe what you're about to share isn't true. And I think especially coming from a place of faith and a place specifically within the Christian tradition is that we value truth because Jesus is the way, the truth and the life is that we we believe that our understanding of the world is reality. It's true.

And that the God of this God created everything and that he created in a very particular way in a natural order. And so that's one of the things that we don't propagate falsities, conspiracy theories, misinformation, because we're people of the truth, even when the truth may be inconvenient for our beliefs. And so that's one of the things that I think we need to slow down a little bit. And this age is causing us to go faster, faster, faster is to slow down and say, you know, what is it? What does it mean to verify our sources?

To check to see if this is true or, you know, to just slow down and say, you know, I don't have to have a comment on it right now. I think one of the magic three words that we can learn as a society is I don't know. I don't have to have an opinion on every single cultural or social issue. I'm simply not competent for that. I have certain training. I'm not able to talk about medicine, you know, or certain sciences and things like that because I'm an ethicist. And that's OK, is understanding our limitations, being humble about what we do know and what we don't know and what we just simply don't know yet and what we can learn.

And so I think that kind of cultivating humility is one of the best practices we can really kind of inculcate as a culture is to slow down, ask the hard questions and to be humble about how we approach other people. I want to add to, I think as Christian people, we have an ethical and a moral responsibility to be the truth and the life that we see in the pages of the Bible. That also is a great book to read. And here at Words of Life, Jason, as you would appreciate, the Kindred Spirit, that to us is the guidebook for life. Now, if you want to add to your reading outside of the Bible, Jason's got a great book called The Age of AI. It's available anywhere you buy your books.

There is an audio book available for those of you that don't consume by reading anymore. And that's OK. We just hope that you're encouraged by this conversation. And we pray that you join us next week on Words of Life. The Salvation Army's mission, Doing the Most Good, means helping people with material and spiritual needs. You become a part of this mission every time you give to the Salvation Army. Visit to offer your support.

And we'd love to hear from you. Email us at Call 1-800-229-9965 or write us at P.O.

Box 29972, Atlanta, Georgia, 30359. Tell us how we can help. Share prayer requests or share your testimony. We would love to use your story on the air. You can also subscribe to our show on iTunes or your favorite podcast store and be sure to give us a rating. Just search for the Salvation Army's Words of Life. Follow us on social media for the latest episodes, extended interviews and more. And if you don't have a church home, we invite you to visit your local Salvation Army worship center. They'll be glad to see you. This is Bernie Dake inviting you to join us next time for the Salvation Army's Words of Life.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-15 19:51:55 / 2023-04-15 19:57:55 / 6

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