Disruptive Technologies and the Human Experience


(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends, as you are likely experiencing on a personal level - or at least reading about in the news - we are living in an era of rapid technological innovation.

I think this article does a great job summarizing what some of the boldest futurists are predicting for disruptive technologies in the decades to come:

Overall, they are predicting massive innovations that lead to trillions of dollars of market value:

  1. Deep learning
  2. Autonomous taxis
  3. 3D printing at scale
  4. Genome therapy
  5. Mobile transactions
  6. Robotics and automation
  7. Blockchain and cryptocurrencies

Overall, I am bullish about these advances. I think they are going to improve the quality of life for most people in dramatic ways. It is really exciting!

At the same time, these independent - and interlocking - technological advances are going to transform people’s expectations and our cultural realities.

For instance, will more people have, as an increasingly basic assumption - just obvious without reflection - that science and technology are the sources of salvation for our problems? When it is relatively cheap to have a suite of technologies that meet your personalized needs and desires, how will this change our presentation of the gospel and the pathways of discipleship?

As one line of thought, I think we will see increasingly relevance to G.K. Chesterton’s line, often quoted by Ravi: “Meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain. Meaninglessness comes from being weary of pleasure.”

I would welcome your insights on the relationship between rapid innovation and our calling to be faithful disciples and evangelists.

(Jimmy Sellers) #2

Here is another line of thought. I shared this in the RZIM suffering and evil module.

"I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness, and a dread of some strange, impending doom."
Edgar Allan Poe, Life and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

Sometimes the driver is pain and it only looks like we are having pleasure.

(Helen Tan) #3

Hi Carson, thank you for directing us to think about developing disruptive technologies. When I read the article, a few thoughts came to mind:

  1. While there are potential benefits in terms of quality of life, it would also mean the displacement of many in existing sustaining technologies.
  2. I could not help but notice the mega numbers involved – in the billions and trillions for these technologies. The focus of many will be on the financial rewards and perhaps other ethical and social issues will be set aside in the march towards these lucrative numbers.
  3. Man is indeed endowed with creativity from the Creator and we see that displayed in these advancements. Yet, based on human knowledge and wisdom, we may not be cognizant of the cost involved.
  4. Man could also be drawn to think that we are well able to resolve all our problems and improve life quality without God.

The last point, I thought, related well to what Stephen Hawking spoke about in a video appearance to the Tencent WE Summit in Beijing on 5 November 2017. Hawking issued a warning that overcrowding and energy consumption could bring about a fiery end to the planet within 600 years. To save itself, mankind must take a cue from Star Trek and “boldly go where no one has gone before” to seek habitable planets in space. In doing so, he sees a solution in Breakthrough Starshot, a $100 million research and engineering program in which Mark Zuckerberg is involved. This interstellar space travel program hinges on a nanocraft ride on the light beam which is designed to reach Mars in less than an hour, Pluto in days, or Alpha Centauri in just over 20 years.

What is seen in all of these is man using their God-given creativity to address human problems and in the process, often pushing the Creator aside. While all this may sound like science fiction and Hawking’s prediction could well be unwarranted, there is evidence that the universe is not designed to last. In Hugh Ross’ book, “Why the universe is the way it is”, he talks about the universe being in decay. This is due to the second law of thermodynamics or increasing entropy. According to Ross, “the universal dissipation of mechanical energy would inevitably lead to a complete diffusion of heat, the cessation of all motion, the exhaustion of potential energy and a universal state of death.”

Based on this, Hawking’s solution appears to be futile. There is only one solution– the Creator Himself bringing about the New Heavens and New Earth. I am not a science buff but do you think this is where we can point to the fact that no matter how creative man can be, there is only one Creator to whom we will all have to turn for our ultimate redemption? I am also keen to hear the thoughts of those of us who are familiar with these developments. They will make interesting conversations to point to our universal dependence on the Creator Himself.

(Matt Brown) #4


Very well put. Thanks for the thoughtful response.


(A S FLINT) #5

While a simplification, I look at the singularity as another attempt for man trying to be a god unto himself.
Knowledge is increasing. The love of witty inventions prevails with the love of $$$. The consideration of mass mind control and surveillance is also an issue or to live forever on man’s terms.

The film INHUMAN by Tom Horn I found a good over view of trans-humanism & questions for Believers to consider.
I have been reflecting how there is such passivity in technology & a lack of real relationships these days. We are friends with virtual people in social media.

While I am not against advances in medicine and science. I am against an anti-GOD systems which may lead to another tower of Babel, the days of Noah and Lot, where the people is one against GOD and HIS anointed.
Loving GOD, & loving your neighbor as you love yourself in practical applications from the Biblical narrative I see as the only way sharing the hope that is in us.

The singularity movement I feel are seeking who Christians already know is the way, Jesus Christ. All the rest is side shows.



(Adam Antoniewicz) #6

I ran across this paragraph in a book on design the other day, and it really speaks to me about the state of disruptive technologies. Here’s the quote:

‘…which brings us back to Thomas More, writing 500 years ago almost to the day: utopia, he warned, is merely the shining face of dystopia. Everything in human history tells us that there is a dark side to the wonders of technology - that, as the French urbanist Paul Virilio reminds us, the history of the locomotive is also the history of train wrecks. The ethos of exploration, the tools of navigation and the technologies of miniaturization and portability have given us greater freedom of movement that any previous generation could imagine, but we will also have to endure the negative impacts of hypermobility: rootlessness, transience, the erosion of physical communities and the steady displacement of direct human contact. As a species, we have been very good at anticipating the consequences of failure but not so good at preparing for the consequences of success.’

I pray as we muddle into ‘increasing progress’ as a society, it will ultimately point us back to our savior Jesus Christ. We’ll be longing for something that we cannot explain; why with all this progress are we still unsettled and unhappy? No matter how much technology might be disrupting our society, it will be used for His good. In that I have confidence.

Eph 1:11 ‘In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.’

(A S FLINT) #7

Thanks for this topic Carson.

(Carson Weitnauer) #8

Hi Helen, Jimmy, Flint, Adam,

Thank you for your thoughtful reflections! I find it interesting that while we live in different places with different occupations, we are converging on a few key points:

  1. The technological process is inevitable - the rewards are high
  2. People will experience these new technologies as ultimate
  3. People will find that they are not ultimate and be searching for more
  4. Technology cannot solve the problem of death

These seem to be areas of shared agreement as we make our best guesses what the future holds.

I think the next step is to look at technologies in more discrete terms. The questions that are raised by self-driving cars are different than those from blockchain and 3D printing.

(Phillip Walter Coetzee) #9

Brilliant qoutes from Thomas More and Paul Virilio. Thank you for the citation @Adam

(Phillip Walter Coetzee) #10

I am in the robotics and automation industry. It is sad to see that people are being replaced by robots and automated systems. This somehow signifies the divorce between man and industry. Man, being directly involved at most levels, and industry being the various blue-collar occupations out there. This may lead to more people having to persue IT as a means of occupation, to acquire the skills necessary.
I may conclude that although we have advancement in technology and a “broadening horizon” technologically; I fear that man is being stripped one right at a time and the ultimate conclusion is left in the hands of the spirit of the age, until Christ comes.

(Sumac Marticorena) #11

Hello everyone,
I have read your comments and opinions; and it is enriching to be able to know them.
Disruptive technologies are the current topic of conversation and “companies aligned to the current and global world”.
In my opinion, developing them is fine, as long as they help society; but the problem of many of them is that they are designed for an economic benefit, such as: which country will be the most benefited or which company will add its billionaire wealth, among other “competitive advantages”.
As I heard in the conference on Humanism the biochemical scientist FAZALE RANA: “Man plays or tries to be God” in his desire to prolong life or evade death; this is the last straw.
So every invention or development that goes against the purposes of God’s creation will never have a good end and I believe it will be unpleasant in the eyes of God; because it can have fatal consequences such as adding human suffering; that is, the man attempting against his neighbor.

Greetings and blessings.