Mobible is a chatbot that helps connect your faith with you, your life and your community based on church teachings and knowledge decoded from the scripture.
What is the problem?
Maintaining religious practice in a busy and increasingly digital life poses challenges for people who may struggle to see the value in attending a more traditional church ceremony or adhering to the church’s existing cultures. However, they still keep their faith and want to live by it. People may also find that translating religious teachings into practical guidance for life can be demanding. The pace of change in society poses regular challenges to the church’s position, forcing them to adjust and adapt their interpretations of scripture to keep harmony between moral teachings and modern life
How Mobible responds
Mobible decodes scripture and uses that as the foundation for a chatbot that can be tailored by your church’s teachings. Each congregant can have conversational guidance whenever they want, which can guide them through their thoughts on anything that’s on their mind.
Ask the Bible:
People can ask the Holy Bible whatever they need and be supported through their difficult situations. Mobible has decoded the scriptures with expert support from religious leaders so each person can enter into conversation with their religion. They can follow their denomination or their specific group.
Mobible supports people through their prayer sessions either individually or as collectives. It shows people their stats about how much they have prayed and helps them recognise patterns and form new rituals.
Connect your leaders:
Mobible connects people with their leaders so they are easier to book time with to speak to for advice or confession, and it allows them to pass on their teachings through the app if people have missed a service or simply so that faith can be more present in their everyday life rather than just once a week.
Through the app, people can donate to their community, the wider church or any other causes they wish to through the Donation Management system that connects to people’s accounts. People can pay single amounts, pay by round-up on all their small transactions or by direct debit.
Connect to your community:
Using the community page, people can post a message to everyone from their church who is in the area, whether they need a hand with something or just have something to say about the last service together. This can also expand out to connect with people from other churches or other faiths.
Learn about other religions:
In any interactions with the Mobible chatbot, users can also cross-reference teachings from other denominations and other religions to see how they would respond to the same issues. In doing so, people can see the similarities and differences in an attempt to promote tolerance.
We demonstrated a low fidelity prototype of Mobibleto high-need users and this is what we learned:
- We found that people saw many opportunities for their church to capitalise on modern formats of interaction to expand what the church could offer, break down boundaries and create more free, open spaces for conversation.
- While there was concern about the authority or authorship of the service, it posed exciting new ways to explore their relationship to faith.
Emerging topics from this proposition are around:
- the way that congregations are connected or disconnected how the proposition poses challenges to the unusual dynamics of agency within faith experiences.
Underlying this concept is a proposal that can bring together, under one platform, different faiths or at least denominations of faith.Theoretically, using Machine Learning and AI the bible and scripture could be decoded and analysed to serve as the foundation for church knowledge and guidance. Because different churches interpret the scripture differently, there would need to be customisations to how the service represents each church’s teachings. t In this way, it divides the teachings into different arrangements of interpretation, but the common platform of the service would allow people to see windows into other interpretations.
This could mean that as you move through your faith experience, gradually learning about your church’s teaching and other church’s teaching ,you may shift and move and find other teaching’s more in line with your own values. In doing so, you may consequently have more freedom to follow those principles instead. In which case, would you leave your physical church and community entirely? Or do those elements serve a different purpose? How might this freedom to move between churches with different interpretations influence people’s relationship with the church and its role in people’s lives or influence the significance of the specific nature of people’s beliefs?
Many of those we spoke with talked about the importance of the church ‘family’, which brings them immense security, a place where everyone knows you well and can support you. But even those who talk fondly about this community, convey issues with expressing their views or talking about taboo topics because there is also a status associated with the purity of someone’s ethics and sophistication of their religious knowledge. They felt that this climate prevents dialogue and that potentially having other domains for conversation could help make the community more honest and connected. They also described how the other ‘community tools’ in the proposition could help bring people together to support each other whether they are of the same faith or not. But the fact they have faith in some way may bring them a sense of security and commonality, which could promote religious tolerance.
This service brings religious authority into people’s lives in a more integrated way and would claim to give more specific guidance to people’s circumstances. Some of our participants felt very strongly that this could lead to too much power in the hands of too few people, particularly with a potential escalation in the amount of data collected about people and the increased capacity for manipulating people based on that data. However, they also felt that the ability to see other examples of religious leadership may mean that people feel less obligated to their leaders. Overall, they felt that even though people may have more freedom, discussing ethics with an algorithmic interpretation of your faith with specific connection to your issues could give religious teachings more authority than they should have.
Some participants argued that part of what is important about being religious is relinquishing some of their agency and control in their life in submission to god. They described this as an exchange whereby reducing their agency relieves their dependency on externalities in their life that they can’t control. That choice to be less in control puts control in God, but ostensibly in the hands of the church and could therefore potentially be corrupted like many other organisations. If Mobible had enough authority, it could encourage the surrendering of even more agency. Would this make people happier? Could the closer integration of faith in people’s lives help them adopt teachings into everyday life and therefore become more independent of the church?
Another perspective in this discussion is that some people described faith as being about a relationship with God, which requires an ongoing self-discovery and a constant search for understanding about themselves and their place in God’s world. This portrays the ‘exchange of agency’ in a much more balanced light that empowers the follower. Within this alternative perspective, would Mobible help people understand themselves? Or does it corrupt the nature of people’s relationship with God and treat decisions as transactions of knowledge rather than self-reflection.
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Our new direction of exploration
If this proposition is taken further, the strategic question of relevance to our investigations is more along the lines of:
How can faith platforms be created in a manner that would promote religious tolerance, support communities and create empowering dynamics without fostering disproportionate power imbalances or distorting people’s relationship with God?
Related to ‘Mobible’
Religious structures could feel unstable in their ethical foundations as they shift in reaction to threats from the World. It may be difficult to find a community to put your faith into because it could become difficult to distinguish between religious practice and an organisational/commercial service.
Dimensions of change
Values and beliefs could be strained by a mixture of people’s environment and self-discovery.