Friday, May 12, 2023

The Speed of the Internet and The Accuracy of a Weatherman

Wrapping up another school year. Things winding down. It is much akin to how T.S. Eliot famously quipped at the end of his famous poem, The Hollow Men, "not with a bang but a whimper". MAN, I am one tired dude.... but the Lord is good!

Drama and crisis is always just around the corner if you are in the school business, it is the normal marketplace of human interaction. So I am never upset to get a break from that and though my summer is always busy with projects, I do seem to get a break from the malaise for a bit.

I also get a break from the two sinister beings who seem to roam the hallways.... rumor and gossip.  These two are much more deadly than most people give them credit for.

In my early days as an administrator, those two sucker punched me and I just stayed down for days. They still punch me, and it still stings, but I have gotten pretty good in my ability to get up and keep moving forward.

And these rumors take on unique styles. In the last month of school I have encountered the three most common: 

Situation 1: A fact out of context that is separated out and creates a narrative that is totally untrue because of the lack of the other facts that lead to a totally opposite narrative.

Situation 2: A false narrative that spreads due to a predisposition of negativity towards a person or an entity.

Situation 3: A false rumor made up in the wind and becomes a targeted attack on the reputation of a human being.

As I have long said- the gossip and rumor chain "has the speed of the internet and the accuracy of a weatherman" and when we participate in keeping the chain alive, we are sinning and often hurting people or creating negative environments where the venom is poisoning the pool.

In this fast moving interaction of information, it is the dangers of rumor and gossip that should make us pause. As I have been studying AI technology, it is the deep fake capabilities and our cultural mood that is predisposed to guilt before innocence that concerns me the most.

And people of Scripture should be a part of the solution and not part of the problem 

Bible verses about gossip and rumors can certainly provide guidance on how to respond to the harmful effects of AI deep fakes. One such verse is Proverbs 16:28, which says, "A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends." This verse can be applied to the actions of those who create and spread deep fakes, as they are deliberately stirring up conflict and causing harm.

Another relevant verse is Proverbs 11:13, which states, "A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret." In the context of AI deep fakes, this verse could encourage individuals and organizations to prioritize trustworthiness and integrity in their use of technology. They should also keep confidential information safe and secure, and not share it with those who may use it to create deep fakes.

One last verse, Proverbs 17:9 says, "Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." This verse reminds us of the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation, even in the face of harm caused by deep fakes. Rather than perpetuating rumors and gossip, we should strive to promote love and understanding, and work towards repairing any damage caused by the technology.

Applying Bible verses about gossip and rumors can provide a framework for responding to the harmful effects of AI deep fakes by encouraging trustworthiness, confidentiality, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

I want to add one last thing.... train your spirit to think the best first and accept the worst with great evidence and hard conversations.

Rumors come to me almost everyday. In my position, I attract them like a super magnet.

The Lord has been gracious for me to not panic or automatically assume the worst. Yes, I know human nature so any action is possible no matter how good we think a person may be.

At the same time, I am going to let facts shape my opinion. And if the facts are beyond a reasonable doubt I try to land on the optimistic side....

When I was Dean of Students, I would have some evidence... but not a great case. And I would drop it. If the student was prone to inappropriate behavior, he would eventually give me a better case. It was OK to drop it. And guess what, sometimes that would be a turning moment and I wouldn't get a great case... and that was ok as well.

I will never rid my work place from those two demons... rumor and gossip. But I don't have to listen to them either.

I pray everyone has a wonderful break soon!