Seven Churches in South Oxfordshire

From the Rector: Tuesday 19th September 2023

Hey Alexa !

Dear friends

Whether we like it or not, AI (“Artificial Intelligence”) is already all around us and here to stay. It is on your phone, making suggestions for the next word you might need as you type a text or message. It is on your computer, underneath the “voice to text” function that learns not only how you speak and pronounce words, but also your specific vocabulary, and unique use of language. Amazon’s  Alexa likes to hoover up every conversation, ostensibly waiting for your next “Hey, Alexa”, but at the same time she’s learning all about your household, so that next time you go online, adverts are strangely tailored to your specific situation. Both Apple and Google use similar technology. And, by and large, we are content to let these systems know about our lives, because, on the whole, we benefit from the service and  convenience that they provide.

This is the basic business model; we provide information about ourselves, in exchange for some perceived benefit. In the case of health care, AI systems have been taught to recognize anomalies in scans, which could be potential or actual tumours. The databases compiled in this way rapidly become far larger than the life experience of even the most skilled clinician. In the case of social media, the benefit is much less tangible, and there is now vigourous debate as to the potential for harm. As has been said: “if you are not paying for the product, you are the product.” This coming Sunday at Checkendon I will be exploring this “brave new world” a little further; what will the relationship of man and machine become now that there are machines who are smarter than us?

Worship Services for Sunday 24th September

9.30am Holy Communion at St John’s Stoke Row with Canon Kevin Davies

11am Holy Communion at St Peter and Paul, Checkendon with Canon Kevin Davies. “AI and the Church”

Midweek zoom service: Wednesday Evensong at 5.00pm  410 935 129

Harvest Festival ahead

Please support us at the Harvest Services on 1st October, all around the Team Churches. At Checkendon I will be interviewing Robin Hart about her experiences over the last year learning to run the family farm, and some of the issues that are being faced right now by the British farming industry. Frances and Steve Woolaway from Manor Farm at Peppard will also be joining us with their produce stall. We’ll be supporting the work of Tear Fund, and the Ways and Means Trust, our local mental health charity.

There is an often overlooked line in St Paul’s famous words in 1 Corinthians 13. The reader is eager to rush on to the last verse: “And now faith, hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”  But, for my money, this is simply a concluding summary flourish. The force of Paul’s argument from verse 8 onwards comes in the penultimate verse: “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we shall see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.”    He’s not talking about Alexa, or any of the big corporations. Only God knows us that completely.

May the Lord bless you

Revd Kevin

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.



Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *