Today I attended a talk on “spiritual computing” by Dr. Craig Warren Smith, who works at the Human Interaction Development Laboratory at the University of Washington. Since spiritual computing isn’t well defined, much of his talk was devoted to examples, followed by a definition, which frankly I didn’t have enough time to absorb.

What I did get out of Dr. Smith’s talk is that spiritual and religious traditions have a lot to say about what is meaningful to people, that they have developed a lot of technology over thousands of years to further their spiritual goals (he called mass the “killer app” of Catholicism), and the computing field should tap into that knowledge as it designs its products. Unfortunately, we didn’t get into many specifics, although Dr. Smith did mention mindfulness, where a person becomes completely aware of his or her thoughts and actions at the present moment, which comes from Buddhism.

Overall, a thought-provoking and worthwhile talk.