Siri, is Mickey Rooney dead?”

To me, that’s AI: the prediction of what my desired answer is, and the useful summary of the historical data that most humans would internalize. There’s a lot of companies out there that want to build this, but I don’t trust them. They want my data running through their servers — with Siri this could potentially all be done on the device, with anonymous meta-data sent out for quick analysis.

-Ben Brooks, Artificial Intelligence and What Computers Still Don’t Understand”

I am with Ben on what Artificial Intelligence should look like in the future, as well as who I am willing to trust to give me the desired information. I actually am surprised sometimes how often I use Siri on my iPhone because she” honestly can’t do that much. Normally, I use the assistant for hands-free navigation and texting, but the other day, my colleague asked me a piece of trivia that I didn’t know.

Me: Siri, is Mickey Rooney dead yet?”

Siri: Here is what I found for you. (complete with Wolfram Alpha sheet on Mickey Rooney)”

Me: How old would that make him?”

Siri: Here is what I found for you. (complete with Wolfram Alpha math sheet)”

I am not saying that this use is in any way integral to my day, like Ben’s posed scheduling questions, but there are many parts to AI and, just like their OS offerings, Apple is snatching the low-hanging fruit in how they are building their still-in-beta voice assistant. First it was the essential items such as hands-free texting, then it was looking up movies, and now it is wikipedia, search, as well as purchasing and reserving; we can only hope that the service continues to get more robust in what information it can provide us when we ask question, from the fun to the fundamental.

Read, Think, Share, Repeat

The Challenges of 2020

TL;DR: Follow this link.

One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.

My wife and I meet with my home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.

I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.

In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.

These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.

I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:

Thanks to a $10,000 matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our 2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.

KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.

Thank you for your consideration.