New Scientist had the crystal ball out this week, reporting on “seven disruptive technologies that will change the coming decade”. In brief, they say we should keep an eye on:
- Robot Travel (commuting via telepresence, like in “Surrogates”)
- Augmented Cities (the looking glass invades shopping malls)
- Evolved invention (the automation of scientific discovery)
- 3D Printing (beyond models, we’ll be printing buildings)
- Brain-Machine Mergers (both invasive and non invasive)
- Text Mining (data mining of social networks for prediction)
- Digital Wallets (the back pocket bulge is no more)
Now, I’ve spoken on most of these technologies before, because every one of them already exists in embryonic form. But what I think warrants further consideration is this: if these technologies mainstream as they mature, and if they reshape culture as profoundly as the pundits are promising, how do we respond in terms of the cultural contextualization of Christian discipleship?
Here’s some questions that pop into my head, in no particular order.
- Will digital wallets fuel consumption? Some say yes.
- Could 3D printing be utilized for disaster relief?
- How might text mining enhance culture watching?
- Are there ethical land mines in brain-machine interfaces?
- Beyond helping the disabled, may it also fuel transhumanism?
- Could an artifical eye be hacked?
- Could telepresence lead to micro-term mission trips?
- What will creationist pastors make of evolutionary algorithms?
- Automation of theological inquiry and innovation?
- Is the singularity upon us even without artifical consciousness?
What do you think other opportunities and threats might be?
Can you any strengths and weaknesses in these technologies?
Whatever you think, as I said, whether we like it or not these technologies already exist in embryonic form. So there is an over-riding question that stands above all this: do we seek to be culture shapers or, decades later, the culturally shapped upon?