One would expect that as capital becomes relatively less expensive, all sorts of organizations, profit and non-profit alike, would find it reasonable to use more capital and less labour. It has even happened with confession in the Catholic church.
While there have been several apps for the iPhone or iPad developed dealing with confession, a recently developed and upgraded app has received the stamp of approval from the Vatican [via CBC News, h/t Ms. Eclectic]:
The app "is not intended to function as a replacement for confession" at church," [the developer] said in an email to CBC News.
Instead, it is supposed to help people prepare for confession and is designed to be used in the confessional, the booth in church where people sit while confessing to a priest, he said.
The app walks people through confession step by step, based on text developed in collaboration with Catholic pastor Dan Scheidt and U.S. Catholic official Thomas G. Weinandy.
It reminds users when their last confessions were and keeps track of sins they have previously confessed.
It also advertises features such as password protection to allow multiple users, a "custom examination of conscience" based on age, sex and marital status, the ability to add sins that aren't listed and a choice of seven different acts of contrition — prayers that express sorrow for sins.
However, absolution or release from the sin can still only come from a priest.
The app substitutes for labour only to some extent, namely in preparing people for the confessional. It thus both reduces the necessary time for the confession and improves the quality of the confession.
I briefly looked through the other iApps dealing with the Catholic confession, and it appears none of them offers a fully automated confessional service.
But why not? Why can't apps be written that ask enough questions and then behave as a priest hearing a confession might behave in making recommendations? Is there any reason (other than job protection?) that confession cannot be fully automated and free up priests to do other aspects of God's work with their extra time?
One thing for sure: if I were a Catholic and if I used this app, I would make sure it was extremely carefully password-protected!