Man’s need to create

Technology is changing so fast that it is almost impossible to keep track. Chief editor of The Verge comments: “It’s the dream of the upgrade. Of the early adopter. Things are going to get better. They have to get better. There is no other way. The next thing is just around the corner.” All these technological improvements – are they a means to an end – are they trying to help us achieve the good life Aristotle yearned so much to find, or is it just a matter of themselves being the telos – being the end?

I would like to start my reflection by laying some concepts straight. Man is created in the image of God, thus man shares both the attribute to be a creator and to be immortal. Thus, similar to how man needs to search for the truth, man feels an intrinsic need to create and to be remembered, be immortal. Similar to how man achieves immortality through arts, so is the modern man looking at technology to leave his imprint on society. Man is created in an image – the image of God, thus whatever man creates has to be created in his own image. This can make man prone to temptation – the same temptation of Eve. Man is called to be immortal not through his own means alone, but rather guided by the Spirit. Needless to say, Artificial Intelligence (AI) machines will resemble man and his own thinking process more than ever. While AI can be a sign of the entire fleshly realm becoming “intelligent”, it could also be a return to the Narcissus myth: Narcissus falling in love with his own image (instead of the other).

In an age where information rules the world (note the major influence big companies such as Google and facebook share on our own lives, on our own decisions, on our own actions) and the cult that only information truly exists, it is inevitable that even us Christians are tainted with this reasoning. Is this wrong? As Vedral hypothesise: ‘What if the fundamental entity is not energy or matter, but information? How do we decode this information… this reality? ‘

Many see the new form of intelligence as being able to adapt to change. Could this change be an effect of the Holy Spirit? Irenaeus of Lyons sees life as being Trinitarian, and it is the Spirit which is guiding creation to reach the Image of the Son. Thus, I question, could all these technological improvements be nothing but a way the Holy Spirit is acting? Is the Church called to discern such improvements and promote them?

Is information eternal? Information remains even after the author’s death. Thus this would satiate the intrinsic desire for immortality – the desire for “of me” to exist beyond my death. So yes, similar to how the Hebrews lived forever through their progeny, the modern man is living  through his technological creations. Steve Jobs is still alive in every Apple product used, at least until the User Experience is changed. Whenever an iPhone user scrolls through the apps, he is reliving the ideals of Jobs. Thus, in a way, to the modern man: Jobs is alive. Is this theory against what we Christians belief? Is it complimentary? We are called to be immortal as “I”’s rather than “of me” – thus as a “being” not “in what we did”.

God is a communicative being. Creation is an expression of his communication, thus he created man as a communication being: a relationship hungry being. It is this same relationship that man is called to have with fellow men: a relationship which breathes relationship. Our own God showed us how to relate to each other: by serving each other. Is this how we really relate through technology? Is it a case that numbly enough, we allow ourselves to be used and abused by tech giants in order to satiate this creative need? We live a life on earth in relationship with God in the hope to share eternity with our personal god. Will I remain Catholic if I knew without any sense of doubt that God exists but there is no eternal life waiting post my earthly life? I guess not. What’s the use after all? Can these two questions be related? Could the technological improvements be a means for modern man to live on, because he doubts living on eternally in an Eschatological sense? Could these be related? Could it be that we are deifying our own creations? Are we sinning against ourselves, by allowing our own creations to slave us?

In a later post I am planning to tackle this question further seeing the latest purchase of Whatsapp by Facebook for the sum of $19 bn.

Matthew is a Masters graduate in Informatics and is currently reading a Bachelor’s Degree in Sacred Theology. He has a strong interest in merging the tech field, particularly Artificial Intelligence and Social Media, with theology. He is also in his sixth year of formation at the Archbishop’s Seminary.

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