this article from ReadWriteWeb (RWW) in which the author talks about five lessons for the future that he learned from a Stephen Wolfram talk at SXSW (Computation and its Impacts on the Future). I see these lessons not just as fruitful for the author, or even just technologists, but as brokers towards perspectives and conversations that faith communities should be having within themselves, and engaging towards their surrounding communities with.
Here are the five lessons spoken about in the RWW piece:
- Nature is a Computer
- Programming is Easy
- Data [is] Good for Our Health
- Computers Belong in the Classroom
- Humans Still Matter
Now, these have a different framing within the RWW article, but I do see where they intersect here quite easily. Follow me if you will:
Nature is a Computer
When we look at Genesis 1 and Genesis 8, we can see that God designed this world to function within prescribed boundaries, with little direct management needed by Him. In fact, he designed it to be maintained by us – you could almost say that we are small batch programns within this world designed to carry out tasks to keep things rolling. And like any good System Admin, if the batch programs get out of hand, then the Admin needs to go in and flush the system. Thankfully, it wasn’t a complete reimage (at least not at that point) to all of creation. God did a backup, and then setup his desktop back to the way he could appreciate the goodness of what works.
Programming Is Easy
I’d be the first to tell you that it isn’t. There’s a type of thinking that goes into programming that not everyone has. And that’s to be respected. What’s also to be respected though is the capacity for all of us to adapt and learn. One of the reasons that I’ve taken on projects over the years isn’t because it was something that I could do, but I knew that given some intentional behaviors on my part, that I could learn and adapt, and eventually be a success into what I’m setting out to do. The same kind of perspective should be able to be taken on by anyone learning or teaching others about the Bible/history of religion(s). Its not that building what you believe will be easy, but that your intentional behavior to how you go about learning this puts you in position to reprogram your life.
Data [is] Good for Our Health
I’m of the opinion that you can never have too much information, if you have the right expectations and filters about that information. Remember that the filter is Proverbs 4:7, and with such a filter, you can and should make decisions that allow you to better understand what is going into your life, and therefore what comes out of you would better able to be health for you and others around you.
Computers Belong in the Classroom
Well, of course they do. Did you know that computer was a term given to people who did complex calculations with various mathematical, sociological, and mechanical tools before it was something given to a machine? Found that out when visiting the National Computer Museum in San Jose last year – and when I did, it made a lot of sense. That’s why everyone you come to should be in the posture of being programmed by God (Colossians 3) to be in their world showing forth the data and applications of our Master Programmer. Does that mean that people-as-the-computer shouldn’t have the tools of their age to help them better navigate their world? No. It does mean though that there’s going to be a limit as to how much a person can do until they add some additional programming to their system (learning, understanding, wisdom – James 1 kind of stuff).
Humans Still Matter
That kind of sits at the conclusion of the RWW author’s lesson, as it did with God’s in Genesis 1. We were placed here to steward and build on top of this marelous system (Earth) with all that God’s provided (how many APIs have you seen when you walked through the forest). Its not even just that you matter, but you – and everyone that you interact with – is a key cog into making sure that this entire system functions the way that it was designed. There are different cogs for the job, and you’ve got to respect and encourage those cogs to do what they are designed to. Then appreciate them, and be the bot that creates something new along the way.
Those are some of the ways that I’d seen those five lessons translate into this space. Do you have any thoughts on these, or perhaps you were there for the talk at SXSW and other items came to mind?