In the 50’s a favorite joke among computer scientists was to ask UNIVAC 1103 the question: “is there a God?” to which the machine would whirr and take its time to process and emit the answer on a slip of paper with the words printed saying: “Now there is!” While God is not likely to appear on one’s laptop anytime soon, most look for answers on Google rather than a church or temple today. As a matter of fact, many of the churches in my neighborhood have started renting out their spaces for birthdays and school meetings. Yet one is moved to do amazingly selfless acts of faith even today.
One finds a ribbon tied to a random bush, some flowers on a rock, during a walk up the slope on the Himalayas. The flowers or the ribbon are offerings of one’s faith, the mark of a conversation a person had with the self – and felt understood. For more than being loved, we need to be understood. We hope to be understood when having a conversation with another human. Although how often do we truly feel fully accepted during our interactions and how authentic is our own expression?
Today one is closer to having a conversation with a computer than ever before, some might even prefer it since such communication does not involve talking back or any other form of argument! If you remember to say “Hey Siri” you can have a taxi hailed to your address today, although computers have not passed the “Turning Test” till date. The test that determines if it feels about the same while conversing with a computer as it does with a human.
These shots capture a conversation with the self, or the mark of one, or a designated place for one. If our computers had to search for God today, it would probably be on Google. As of now, we still look in other places since conversation with the self is not entirely information driven.