Are We Using Technology, or Is Technology Using Us? That’s the fall focus of the Sinai and Synapses Discussion Forum. Each week, we’ll gather some of the most interesting articles on the topic from across the online world. We hope they make you think — and share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Here’s the news from the week ending December 19, 2014:

Study to Examine Effects of Artificial Intelligence

Scientists have begun what they say will be a century-long study of the effects of artificial intelligence on society, including on the economy, war, and crime, officials at Stanford University announced Monday. The project, hosted by the university, is unusual not just because of its duration but because it seeks to track the effects of these technologies as they reshape the roles played by human beings in a broad range of endeavors. (John Markoff, The New York Times)

New App Takes Pope Francis’ Philippines Visit Mobile

The new official app for the Pope’s January visit to the Philippines will help people follow the Pope’s activities and find the latest news, while letting them offer their prayers on a special prayer wall. The app is available for Android and iOS phones. It can be found on the Google Play store and in the iTunes App Store by searching “Papal Visit 2015 – Philippines.” (Catholic News Agency/EWTN News)

In Tragedy, Empathy Still Dependent on Proximity

Thanks to Twitter hashtags like #prayforpeshawar and #illridewithyou—a sign of anti-Islamaphobia—social media can help bring a sense of camaraderie and togetherness to people from around the world. But, it seems, when speaking about empathy, the personal touch is still best. A recent study in the European Physical Journal Data Science assessed emotional reactions on Twitter over another tragedy—the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing—and found a link between firsthand experience and compassion on social media. (Max Ufberg, Pacific Standard)

A Tweet On Women’s Veils, Followed By Raging Debate In Saudi Arabia

A prominent ultra-conservative figure says face veils for women are not mandatory. Now everyone is weighing in on the hottest topic in the kingdom. (Deborah Amos, Parallels, NPR)

A Rosary App from One of Our Regulars

The Electronic Rosary app is intended to help people to pray the Rosary with voice guidance, images, and variable pacing. Its intended uses is in places or situations where Catholics might have trouble keeping count or need a companion to aid in praying the rosary. (Leah Libresco, Unequally Yoked, Patheos)

Disruptive Innovation: The First Christmas Lights

While it’s been nearly 135 years since crowds first thronged to witness Edison’s electrical conjurings, we’re still drawn like fireflies to the “tech and awe” of disruptive innovation. Technological breakthroughs strike a universal chord of inspiration and delight within us. In every twinkling light, Edison strengthened the wonder we feel when the seemingly impossible becomes real. (Sarah Miller Caldicott, Forbes)

CBB Review – The Biblezon Catholic Tablet

The Biblezon tablet for Catholics was designed to bring your faith to a more accessible level all the while eliminating the distractions. (Pete Socks, The Catholic Book Blogger, Patheos)