Big Data

Artificial Intelligence has gotten a lot of hype in the last couple decades. In the midst of the sensational claims, worrisome predictions, and urban legends, the purposes for which A. I. can be seriously useful can get a little muddled. But an article I read recently suggests that A. I. can be much more powerful, and helpful than we thought. This usefulness isn’t in tapping people’s phones or controlling large-scale robots, it’s about treating a notoriously slippery and severe illness—depression. Programmers and scientists have developed software that tracks and analyzes seemingly insignificant details on people’s smartphones—what words they use in texts, which words are deleted, how often they smile on camera, etc. to see if there are patterns that develop for those who are suffering from depression. If correlations start to emerge from all the data, then researchers can start to predict who is most vulnerable to depression and even suicide based on what the results. According to the article, A. I. has the potential to diagnose depression more swiftly and effectively than we had thought possible and potentially save lives. I don’t know how effective this strategy will be in the long run, but we can’t deny that A. I. definitely has the potential to dramatically change our society’s future. Data plays into so many aspects of our lives and the tech that we lean on more and more to navigate our increasingly convoluted world looms large. But in the midst of all these hopes, fears, pitfalls, and immense potential, where can we go to find meaningful solutions on a personal level? Merely downloading an app, buying a device, taking a pill, or subscribing to a podcast won’t solve the deeper ache for hope and meaning that lies in each human heart. We need a broader make-over to find our real purpose—a regeneration of the mind, a change of heart. Jesus points this out when He said to Nicodemus: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) He goes on to describe how a person’s character changes when He says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:4-6) Real change only comes through spending quality time with our Savior through reading His Word carefully, praying freely, thinking deeply, sharing genuinely, meeting together regularly, and serving faithfully. We grow through connecting with Christ in these ways and recording God’s miracles so we can look back and see the precious changes Jesus has brought.


Brooks, David. "How Artificial Intelligence can Save Your Life." The New York Times. June 24, 2019. 2 July 2019