The Original AI

by Joanna Deffner on June 05, 2019

“You don’t have to inflect your voice when talking into your phone, Joanna.” That’s my husband’s typical comment when I’m crouched over my smart phone dictating a text message, email, reminder, or search query. I talk into my phone whenever possible as I loathe typing with my fingers on a keypad near impossible to see (and/or hit accurately). However, even in voice-typing I forget Siri doesn’t understand (nor convey) emotion.

I really do appreciate new-fangled technologies in the world today. Even though they sometimes only slightly understand my voice dictation, these AI (artificial intelligence) technologies automate some of the work I do on a day-to-day basis. Something as simple as a voice command saves me time! I don’t have to walk around to locate a piece of paper, write down a reminder, and then hope I find it later when I need it. Even if it shaves just a few seconds off a task here and there, those seconds really add up!

I work all day long and am sincerely grateful for these technologies (and even modern-day appliances) that help me get additional work done and done quickly. They’re completing the actual work—writing down a reminder, washing my clothes, etc.—and I reap the benefits. What a blessing!

Long before humans unearthed AI as a modern technology, God manifested His own form of automation hundreds of years ago. He did this when the Nation of Israel entered the Promised Land:

For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs: But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year (Deuteronomy 11:10–12, KJV).

While slaves in Egypt, Israel had to sow and reap crops all by hand. As we know, harvesting any crop doesn’t entail just the initial planting phase. Farming is a continual process which includes a major, ongoing element—watering! For Israel, to see any fruit of their labor, they watered crops manually.

Israel didn’t possess the fancy equipment we have today, but they did have some contraption in which they operated with their feet as the Scripture indicates (Deuteronomy 11:10). While the implement aided in the irrigation process, the human hand was still directly involved. But, God had something in store for His people when they entered the Promised Land. This ongoing watering process would now no longer require their involvement—He would automate it. How? By the rain of Heaven! Talk about the ultimate automation process!

We could look at this and think, wow—rain? We have that here and now, and that’s not automated. But, when you’re used to collecting water on your own and manually treading rows of crops to ensure they’re watered adequately, I’m sure you’d agree that water pouring from Heaven is an automated process if there ever was one! It’s like Israel got to say, “Siri, make it rain.” Except, there wasn’t a Siri; it was (and still is) God. They didn’t have to ask for the rain; it just happened. Can you comprehend how much time it saved them every day?

In the technological era we live in—and considering the God we serve—we often don’t think of automation as a blessing. We think of it as a given and a norm that just exists. But, God has situated automation all around us as a key blessing to His people. He wants to help off-load some of the work placed on our shoulders because He loves us. And He’s done this time and time again whether through technological advances, other people, or even through the wonders of Nature!

Let’s be thankful today we have God who not only blesses the work of our hands but blesses us by removing work from our hands. He’s there working in our midst in a variety of ways, automating more than we’ll ever know, just so we don’t have to bear any unnecessary burden. Thank you, Jesus for being the One, the only, and the original AI.