In the hubbub of excitement around the computer called Watson that competed on Jeopardy, I heard a comment on the radio about one aspect of the human mind that the computer can’t mimic — the ability to forget. Which turns out to be an important skill.
Anyone who’s given birth is familiar with this verite. Otherwise, there’d be a lot more only children in the world. Because sometimes the other verite, once burned twice shy, doesn’t always hold true.
I have been known (on occasion!) to find myself repeating the same mistake / mis-step / mis-speak. More than once.
Sometimes it’s because I’m sure there will be a better outcome the next time. Sometimes it’s because I’ve forgotten how badly it went the first time. Sometimes it’s because I simply forgot to think.
The computer Watson “thinks” by analyzing enormous quantities of information and then making choices, all in the blink of an eye.
Me, I think by opening my mind and wandering around. It can take time. There’s lots of data I can’t access, either because I forgot it or never knew it in the first place.
This is the beauty of the siddur, the prayer book (you knew I’d get here sooner or later). It’s there as a reminder of what I’ve forgotten, and a supplier of that which I never knew.
But the real praying comes from within. Like Watson, the book is merely a tool. The computer will never replace us as thinkers, and the siddur will never replace us as pray-ers.