Loving My Neighbor in a Technological World

Christians are called to love our neighbors. But who is our neighbor in a world where its easier to connect with AI and devices than people?

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Luke 10:29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34 and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[d] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

I am not sure what AI and devices have to do with this.

It might be more relevant to ask who is our neighbor when we have emergency services whose job it is to help people? Are they neighbors simply because of the job they do?

Well the fact is that have seen examples similar to Jesus story quite frequently where people do not hesitate to lend a hand. My mother on the ground in front of our house and cannot pick herself up. Someone informing me about a toddler (one of my sons) who took off running down the street.

To be sure there are situations where we might be more wary of getting involved because it can be dangerous. But for the most part, it seems to me that we have so many neighbors all around us that perhaps we take it for granted.

Did you read the article? Or just the title?? The point of the article was to engage your question, “what AI and devices have to do with” that parable.

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Oh I see… you wrote that article and would like a more direct response to what you wrote… ok.

I don’t think it was true fifteen years ago that you could get on a plane and fly across the country, sitting six inches from another human being for hours, and never acknowledge each other’s existence.

The point of my own stories is that I don’t think this lack of interaction will change the willingness to jump in and help when needed. Those on the plane may be occupied with other things but I suspect they will help when needed – most of the time. And perhaps this is because of what Jesus said.

Maybe those interactions are just as important for the helper.

What people see as important varies. And for those who this interaction is important… I think they are availing themselves wherever they may be. Or… are you worried about those who fearfully don’t get what they need or maybe even don’t know what they need. Well… I think that is something we rely upon God to some degree to intervene when our habits are limiting us.

What happens to us if we replace all our difficult and taxing relationships with technology that makes things easier? I fear that we’ll increasingly be conformed to that technology instead of conformed to the image of Christ.

In the church I go to now we use all of that technology – reading scriptures and the words to songs from an app on our phones. The technology is just a tool and what we use it for is up to us.

I searched information about the consequences of digitalization, predictions and scenarios. What was interesting was the conclusions of how digitalization affects relationships, the relative importance of family and communities, isolation from others and connections to spiritual/religious.

Living in a global network, possibly boosted by virtual reality, decreases the importance of family and local communities. It is like my kids have told: they do not know much about local or national news or current happenings in the society because they live so much of their freetime in global networks.

Living much of the life in global networks (social media) leads to a reduction in connections at the local level. There are connections in the global network but that does not fully replace the local live connections. Practical possibilities to love neighbors are limited if you do not have much live connections to other people.

Digital global or wide-scale connections tend to homogenize the moral, ethical and spiritual/religious values. The values of the society slowly sneak into thinking and are adapted without conscious thinking. Yesterday I discussed about a book written by a young author and got some comments from my wife and daughter. The big problem in the book was that one of the characters in the community became addicted to alcohol. A large proportion of the society in the book and apparently in the social circles of the author were gay, transsexual or otherwise not old-fashioned heterosexuals. The sexual diversity was not an issue in the book, it was the standard, natural and accepted reality where the characters lived. My daughter commented something about that being natural among the young today - not an issue, nothing unusual, just normal life among young in the modern society.

Digital life also tends to weaken connections to spiritual reality (God) and local communities where people pray and worship together. The motivation to live the life with God and love neighbors gets weaker.

One believer working with teenagers and young adults told that there has been a big change in the thinking of teenagers during the last five years - the thinking and attitudes of young teenagers are now different from those who were teenagers five years ago. Maybe this is caused by the life in a more digitalized and globally networked society, boosted by the isolated life during the Covid pandemic. The change happens now here, I expect that a similar kind of change will happen in many areas globally in the near future.

@mitchellmckain It sounds like you’re saying technology is neutral. The examples you give might be used to support the claim, “there are times when use of technology doesn’t lead to drastic changes” but I don’t see how you’ve undermined the claim I was making, which is: “there are technological changes that significantly affect us, and AI might very well be one of them.”

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