Friday 23 June 2023

A Theology Of Apples And Visions

Let's get the obvious low-hanging fruit and cliches out of the way. 

Yes, my target for this theological lash is one that chose a bitten apple as a logo as if that wouldn't come back to haunt the company and their version of good and evil knowledge later.

Yes, the fanboys are as easy to mock as their obsessive and expensive foibles would suggest.

Yes, these are the kind of first-world problems that shame me to write about as there are more important things to write about.

Tasty. Glad for the snack of easy writing. Now on to the meat.

What seems to be the most troubling and marketable part of this product launch is the combination of VR with AR. What the Oculus and other headsets lacked. Apple intuitively picked up on and saw that it was pleasing to the eyes. Namely, the eyes that would be covered for augmentation in both directions this time. The user, like other headsets, gets a screen so close to their face their eyelashes could keep the lenses buffed. But the audience of the headset spectacle, otherwise known as normal people, now get to see a projected picture of the wearer's eye's to make the device more, human, I guess.

Like all virtual realities that borrow the terminology from fictional virtual realities, this one isn't virtual but is in fact real. No amount of AR takes the coffee table away so you don't hit it as much with your toe. Not nearly as much as the haptic feedback seems to add the reality in the icon you now get to pinch, in what Tim Cook is calling Spacial computing. But the clinch to that pinch is that it isn't spacial. The icons aren't floating around your house they are made to look like they are. So they can ease their way into your version and source of normal. Unlike the Matrix movies, Where people's entire minds and souls are uploaded into the virtual reality of the computer, the reality here is still real and the computing is still happening in computers. Not in living rooms but on faces. We're just making it look that way because, like Eve, we want to know something. In this case, not the difference between right and wrong, but between cool and uncool. Because that is what all Apple products are. They are for cool kids, not obedient children. 

This gadget is harmless in these quirky features in and of itself. What will be the theological problems it ushers in, are what I'm more concerned about. Problems like what it means to be incarnational or to touch things. Because there are plenty of things we are and aren't supposed to touch or be touched by as Christians, and this little piece of overpriced tech will blur those lines. 

When the pastor insists that he is laying hands on you in prayer, because your computer generates an avatar, and his avatar can haptically feedback between each of your two servers. Then the same pastor then has the means necessary to insist he wasn't cheating on his wife with that avatar as well. You see the porn star wasn't actually on the black leather loveseat in his office. Her avatar was spacially computed there and he was actually just by himself, sinning alone. When the virtual baptism is called into question by the previously wet and the ChatGPT sermon preached by the A.I. appropriation of the pastor's face over the Facetime app is not paid for, because it wasn't actually him it was just enough of him for us to ask if it might have been the Ox who's due his grain sans muzzle.

There is nothing in the church that this device fixes that haven't also been broken by this device. Its solution to the obscuring of the user's eyes to the public is not fixed by the projection of fake eyes on the screen across them. This is a compromise. Along with much of what it offers as features. It is not a solution to workplace clutter to have a headset on instead of a functional workstation. Putting monitors on your corneas does not free you from your desk, it chains you to your job description. Oh, You think you'll just take off the headset? Like you put down the iPhone or stand in line for days to get one of the first releases in store? Stores I might add are being redesigned so that up to 40% of the floor space is dedicated to demonstration of the tech. 

Yes, now you can walk through the holy land on a tour marketed to Christians by people who know Christians are a market now. And you can do it without walking or a holy land for that matter, just pixels and true depth cameras to give you an equivalency. I'm sure the ever-increasing graphics won't ever be used to change where virtual things are in relation to real things. What happens when the temple mount is slowly edited out of the VR holy land tours your church uses and no one actually knows that it used to be there. 

A virtual-only world would be rife with the ability to edit what can be lived in that world. So the binding of that virtual world to the real world should be held in the suspicion of such editing. That is what Apple is doing differently here compared to other VR headsets. Apple is not trying to give you a virtual world to explore, knowing that those worlds would be fake to the same degree that they are real. It's exploring the virtualization of the world God made. The questioning of what God said in real life, and what it actually means. 

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:1-5 English Standard Version

Apple is not giving you forbidden fruit to eat with this headset. It's making sure you stay on your high-fructose diet. By blending anything that it can with the reality of the situation and a general crop of technological and theological ignorance. The church has a unique opportunity in the face of this new tech to be the kind of reality that Eve needed when a snake was near. one that rightly defines things by what God says they are not by what god's creations say they are. A real place where a multi-trillion dollar company that peddles overpriced addiction in white is noticeably absent.

The church bell can't be censored by a moderator.

Nor the steeple be pixelated for the performance of those who view it.

And the Christian cannot be made of the world and also be not of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment