Tomorrow’s World

It was one of my favourite TV programmes growing up, 30 minutes of new technology, inventions and discoveries. A reliable, trustworthy guide to what was coming our way.

The rapid pace at which different technologies are developing lends weight to the belief that our world is changing faster than ever before and that whatever disaster befalls us ‘technology’ will be our saviour, even if it was also our destroyer.

Today’s tech giants have amassed staggering wealth and power in a very short time. Google makes about $18 billion profit every year. Apple makes that every three months.

It becomes impossible to actually spend such vast quantities without running your own country, instead these companies have insatiable curiosity, unending confidence in technology, few ethical boundaries and piles of cash. It’s a heady combination. It’s not so far-fetched to be thinking about the ethics of transhumanism.

For the rest of us, we live lives that are tiny boats riding the waves of these global giants, not that we mind that much. We’re mostly but not entirely happy with the trade-off between our money and privacy and the shiny new things they push our way. Although resignation would probably be more accurate; the internet of things is coming, wearable tech is here whether we like it or not, what can we do?

As Christians resignation to the powers of this world is not an available option, it is a denial of our calling to be salt and light, as well as a denial of our mandate to be co-labourers in the new heavens and earth. Some serious thinking is required.

We need to rememer that not every tool is benign. We need to be thinking about the nature of technology and debate its virtues and its vices. We need to get our worldview straight and ask some good questions.

We need this thinking to translate all the way down from the academy to the pew, so that people know how to live well in a digital world and connect technology to the Christian life.

We need to know discernment about when to adopt and when to refuse a new technology. As Alan Jacobs argues,

To work against the grain of a technology is painful to us and perhaps destructive to the technology, but occasionally necessary to our humanity.

We need longform articles that speak to us in the way Andy Crouch explains why he switched off his emails and all his screens for lent. We need books that guide us and we need short and punchy advice like Seth Godin’s five steps to digital hygiene.

We need it for ourselves and our children need it more. We cannot not think about the forces that shape our lives.

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