Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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In the News: Drunken Robots

Image Last month, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) held its annual Robotics challenge. The main competition was a testing of android like robots in skills such as walking across uneven surfaces, opening doors, turning knobs, and flipping switches.
There is a youtube video that is making the rounds, showing the robots failing miserably at the assigned tasks. Type in this URL: http://tinyurl.com/p563vz6 to see the video.

Now, to be fair, some of the robots probably did a good job, but it is interesting to note just how difficult it is to get these kinds of robots to perform successfully the simplest of tasks. This, despite amazing technological advances that have been made.

I’m not making fun of the efforts, as it is obvious the contest is extremely difficult. (The video does poke mild fun by showing the many pratfalls. The robots actually look drunk!) Many brilliant researchers, scientists and engineers have tackled the project, spending untold hours and dollars in an attempt to win the first prize of $2,000,000 and the accompanying respect and recognition of the scientific community. A team of about 35 individuals from South Korea won the prize.

One of the high points of the competition occurred when one robot fell while crossing a threshold, but after a number of minutes was able to right itself, and complete the assigned task. For most of the others, it was more similar to the lady in the commercial, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”

Consider how simple it is for us humans to move a plug from one outlet to another, or turn on a light switch, or walk across uneven ground. When told how to do the task a single time, we are immediately able accomplish it. Often we are able to do multiple things at once, and are able accomplish many tasks without conscious thought. In contrast, these robots must be carefully programmed, require multiple attempts before gaining success through trial and error, and are easily thwarted in their efforts through a simple unforeseen change in circumstance. A full hour was allowed to accomplish the few tasks, and most required the entire allotted time. No robot was able to flawlessly complete the entire agenda.

The aforementioned winners no doubt were congratulated for their efforts. Their brilliant design and programming was obvious to those who witnessed the competition. Their robot was the best designed, and most proficient, though it obviously fell way short of human capability.

Most of those same brilliant researchers, scientists and engineers, each of whom could personally complete the tasks in minutes with little trouble, will not admit that they themselves are also the product of intelligent design. They can clearly see the evidence of design in their efforts to create a limited facsimile of human ability. And yet, the more complex and sophisticated human body with its capabilities is believed by them to be the product of mere chance. This is a shame, because the fact that we are the product of God’s creative genius is evident! (cf. Romans 1:18-23)

Sadly, Paul’s words apply to many in our time, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).