‘Man in the loop’

This week Google’s robotic cars were given permission to drive on public roads and Amazon laid out its plans to use Drones to deliver packages in California. The car manufacturers were keen to declare that the cars were being driven manually when any previous accidents have occurred.   There is no doubt that the automated systems available on modern vehicles improve safety, however the truth is that whilst machines are capable of augmenting and enhancing what we can do, they will never be able to fully replace people, they will never match our versatility and our adaptability.

I used to work as an Electromechanical Engineer designing equipment to remotely maintain equipment in an experimental Physics facility.  The environment was such that it was not safe for people to enter, so everything had to be performed using a sort of robotic arm.  However there is not a machine that can do the job required on its own.   Robots require certainty, they need exact coordinates and pre-programmed paths.  This remote handling work is at the cutting edge of research, yet it is known that no robot, no pre-programmed solution can provide the ability to feel, to correct, to make changes based on the actual situation or to recover when things are not as they are expected or they get broken.  There is no substitute for having a person at the controls, ‘a man in the loop’, since they are able to see, to feel with sensitivity, and intuitively make corrections and decisions, in real world not factory conditions.

The apostle Paul wrote that we all make up the Body of Christ, we each have our different parts to play, and together our multi-faceted abilities build up the whole.  Jesus didn’t just impose the Holy Spirit and belief on everyone, He choose his disciples to carry on the work.  Each disciple was an imperfect individual, had different skills and abilities, listened to God, had their own relationship with the Holy Spirit, and was able to act according to their own passions.  We are all naturally creative, God has given us a mind, a heart, a soul; He has given us strength, energy and desires.

The church will not grow if it doesn’t adapt to the world around it, the patterns and rhythms of worship will need to change – sometimes dramatically, sometimes gradually.  The way we connect to the world around us has to be sensitive to the needs of the communities we serve, allow for our brokenness and be creative to solve the problems we face.  We cannot be stuck in the past, in set formulas, we have to continue to evolve and develop in relation to the world we live in.  There is no one programme or set of codes that define our response, we need people in the loop, individuals in the churches to do the work we are collectively called to do, to connect with one another, to feel and be sensitive, to see God act and for each person to share the love of Christ that we ourselves have received in the ways that are meaningful and relevant to us.

It says in Genesis that God created us in his image.  Praise God that we are not drones, or automatons but living breathing people with differing skills, abilities and passions who live in relationship with the ultimate creator of all. jet culham1 image from https://www.euro-fusion.org/2011/09/remote-handling-control-room-2/   taken in 2005/6

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