Looking ahead

By Sue Rinaldi

The gospel according to Wikipedia describes the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions as an attempt to “continue good practices, change an undesired trait or behaviour, to accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve their life.” Whether or not you are a committed resolution maker, it’s clearly an appropriate time to assess the past and look towards the future. But how far ahead are you looking? Six months? A year? Well, some people have a considerably longer time span on their minds!

HOW FAR AHEAD?

2021 isn’t just a new (and hopefully, much improved) year, it’s another step towards ‘Singularity’! Before you think I’m going all ‘Dr Who’ on you, let me introduce you to Ray Kurzweil, one of the world’s leading inventors, futurists and a major voice into technological advance, Artificial Intelligence and a myriad of other fascinating areas.

“Ultimately we're going to recreate the full powers of human intelligence in a machine,” explains Kurzweil. “By the time we get to the 2040’s, we'll be able to multiply human intelligence a billion-fold.”

This profound acceleration of change is singular in nature, hence the use of the term ‘Singularity’; and futurists predict this fast-approaching age will see human-beings transcend limitations and evolve into a hybrid superhumanity. Such exponential progress is, apparently, uncontrollable and irreversible

FIGHT OR FLIGHT

Advances in technology have been astonishingly prolific in recent years, and it’s understandable that many struggle to comprehend such data delights as virtual reality, cloud storage, Iris recognition or self-driving cars, to name but a few! So, let’s take a breath…because once I mention uber-tech concepts such as digital afterlife, intelligent avatars, sexbots, domestic droids and brainchips, your sympathetic nervous system may suddenly be initiating a fight or flight response to the mystery and magnitude of such extraordinarily sounding endeavours.

To position ourselves well, and truly be equipped to ‘shine like stars’ for future generations, neither the urge to build a personal barricade to impede all knowledge of these inevitable shifts, nor the impulse to run away to the safety of your trimphone world will help ‘brighten’ us up. The challenge in Romans 12, to not conform to the pattern of this world, presumes we are aware of the pattern of this world and how it’s changing.

RESOLVE TO ENGAGE

So, as we look ahead to the future, can we courageously step-up to the panoramic plate and knowledge ourselves with the digital shifts and swings that are transforming life as we know it? Without fear blinding or besieging us, can we attempt to navigate the world-wide spider-web of a speedily changing landscape? If not for ourselves, then let’s do it for the sake of future generations who will be the inheritors of some mind-blowingly phenomenal advances but also, not a few ethical, moral and biblical dilemmas. Happy New Vista!

Books to byte into:
2084 - John C Lennox
Culture Making - Andy Crouch
Missio Dei In A Digital Age - Jonas Kurlberg

Sue Rinaldi is a Singer-Songwriter, Worship Co-ordinator, Communicator, Writer & Creative Consultant.

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