In my ongoing effort to discover contemporary relevance in Bible stories, I want to devote today’s entry to the story of Isaac’s Blessing of Jacob, which might also be subtitled, “A clever younger brother *fleeces his aging father.” (Genesis 27)
You will recall how Jacob (“the Supplanter”) duped his now-blind dad into giving Jacob a powerful blessing actually meant for Esau, Jacob’s brother. The plot—aided by Jacob’s mother, Rebekah—involved tricking Isaac into misidentifying Jacob as Esau through the use of Esau’s personal clothing and the skin of a young goat. Sniffing those garments and touching Jacob’s arms, Isaac was hoodwinked out of exercising his fatherly responsibilities to his eldest son.
In our times, older adults are among the victims of the contemporary, technically oriented mechanism of trickery of AI-based apps that mimic—with some accuracy—the words, voices or appearances of loved ones. For example, now the tired telephone scam about “rescuing a dear relative who’s facing financial distress while on an overseas trip” can feature the near-perfect sound of that loved one’s voice, and/or a video image of that loved one’s face speaking attention-getting words. The algorithms of artificial intelligence have now become the young-goat’s skin of the biblical narrative!
What to do? Before making commitments, remain skeptical of what you read, hear or see. Smoke out Jacob-esque imposters with questions whose answers would be known only by you and the actual person. For example, “When was the last time we talked about this?”, or “Who else (in our family) have you called and what did they tell you?” If you hear or see any pausing, hesitation or fuzziness, hang up immediately. The best approach: Hang up immediately and call the actual person on their own phone.
You don’t want to be fleeced like a modern-day Isaac!
*I use this word in a way that’s closest to one of its original meanings—the mythological Ulysses and his men tricking the one-eyed giant Cyclops—but also with the knowledge that a more accurate verb phrase for the current retelling of Jacob’s story might go something like “young-goat-skinned and odiferous clothing deceit.”
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