Money For Nothing – Google and the Future of Work

A couple weeks ago, the Financial Times published an exclusive interview with Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page. The interview is largely centered around Page’s vision of the future, and Google willingness to make big gambles on what are now “fringe” technologies, in the hope that they will radically reshape our future for the better. As part of this discussion, Larry Page discusses his vision for the future of work. Page’s perspective is that artificial intelligence, sooner or later, will eliminate most work, which in his mind is a good thing.

“Rapid improvements in artificial intelligence, for instance, will make computers and robots adept at most jobs. Given the chance to give up work, nine out of 10 people ‘wouldn’t want to be doing what they’re doing today’.”

Page goes on to say that trying to cling to work for work’s sake is not the way to go.

“The idea that everyone should slavishly work so they do something inefficiently so they keep their job – that just doesn’t make any sense to me. That can’t be the right answer.”

The interview is worth reading, as it provides insight into the mind of Page. Whether you agree with him or not, Page and Google  play a major role in determining what you and I see online today, and will likely be a part of what our future with technology will look like.

His views, while inline with what one would expect from a Silicon Valley executive, raise other, more complex questions. What the elimination of work might mean for humanity from a spiritual perspective? Does work have any real value beyond – simply accomplishing a stated objective?

The Book of James speaks to the important role work plays in our spiritual maturation. Chapter 1 opens with:

 2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

In this verse, James makes the point that the difficulties we experience enable us to become more spiritually mature, since they test our faith. While the trial is unpleasant, and we wish they would end quickly, they are also something we should give thanks for because they make us better Christians.

At the times, James was speaking to the early Christian Church, which was undergoing persecution from the Roman Empire. For them, the trials James was referring to likely spoke to that condition. Most Christians in the Western world don’t undergo the type of persecution the Early Church experienced, but we do experience trials. For many of us, one of the major sources of trials in our lives is work. Whether occurring on a job, or in the process of trying to complete a difficult personal task, work frequently puts us in trying and stressful circumstances. These conditions often test our faith, and push us to rely on God. We lean on Him to sustain us through whatever we’re going through. The experiences we endure while working are often given context and meaning when later viewed through the lens of Scripture.  The things we experience while working, with the help of the Holy Spirit, can mature us spiritually when we persevere through them.

Given this understanding, how do the words of James sit when compared to Larry Page’s work-free future?

Technology has now advanced to the point where humanity must begin to consider the cost of eliminating work altogether. Larry Page is right in saying that in the near future, artificial intelligence and robotics will advance to the point where it will simply make more sense to use machines to do most work. And while it’s easy for us to sit back and daydream about a Jetson-esqe future where a cadre of robots attends to our every need, the real implications of this fact may be more complex. Losing “work” –  both in terms of employment and general labor – would remove a huge source of the “raw material” Christians need to strengthen our faith and become spiritually mature.

What do you think – are there any spiritual implications for Christians if Larry Page’s vision of a work-free future comes to pass?

Share your thoughts in the comments…

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Bytes & Belief Bible Study: How to Use Technology to Bless Others

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After weeks of discussing the challenges technology presents, we used our last class to explain how technology can be used to help build God’s Kingdom on Earth. After exploring the tools technology provides for helping us deal with self-centeredness, we walked through Paul’s model of discernment and applied it to technology. That, along with a great closing discussion, was a perfect way to end this class.
To get copies of this presentation, please email me at: marcus@bytesandbelief.com
I want to thank New York Covenant Church for allowing me to teach this first-of-its-kind bible study. I also want to thanks all of the people who attended the class for their enthusiastic participation.
Mad that you missed it?
Don’t be!!! I’ll be starting a new session of the Bytes & Belief Bible Study in New York City!!! Check back for more details…

 

Bytes & Belief Bible Study Says: It’s Not Free

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This week’s bible study challenged the notion that the “free” web services we enjoy, like email, social media, search, don’t cost us anything. While we might not pay cash upfront, we do pay for them in other ways that may make them a not-so-great bargain. We also dug deeper, exploring God’s Word to determine what motivates us to sign up for such a raw deal. As usual, there was lots of great discussion and engagement.

Only one class left!!! If you’re in the New York area, please join for the season finale of the Bytes & Belief Bible Study!
Class beings on next Wednesday, 7:15pm @ New York Covenant Church.
To download the (brief) slide deck from this class, contact me @bbblggr

BnB Bible Study Asks: When Does Church Stop Being Church?

Ever have such an deep, engaging conversation with someone that you lost track of time?
In a nutshell, that’s what happened during Class #4 of the Bytes & Belief Bible Study at New York Covenant Church. The class began with an exercise attempting to answer the question – “When is Church No Longer Church?”.
In other words – when do the technology tools we use in communal worship change it to the point where it is no longer fulfilling its biblical purpose? This discussion led to more probing questions, such as:
Why do Christians physically get together each week?
Can the same goals be accomplished through a live stream of service?
Can true communal worship take place over something like Skype or Facetime?
Would a Virtual Church – accessible through virtual reality hardware like Oculus Rift, be acceptable?
And if these alternatives aren’t sufficient – how do we convince a generation of Christians, many  of whom both start and maintain some of their closest relationships online, that physical presence is a fundamental part of worshipping Christ?
The lively discussion wound up taking most of the class. We had a great exchange discussing a topic that urgently needs to be addressed by today’s Church.
No lecture slides for this week, but there are still two classes left!
If you’re in the New York area – please come join us!!!

 

Bytes & Belief Bible Study @ NYCC Continues

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The “Bytes and Belief bible study rolls on at New York Covenant Church. We just completed Class #3, which focused on the places we go online, also known as our “virtual playground”. It’s this experience online that shapes our behavior when we are in the physical world. The question is, how does that behavior affect our worship? These are the questions we are exploring in this dynamic bible study.
Want to learn more? You can start by reviewing the course slides (link below). It’s also not too late to join us live! Our next class is Wednesday May 21 at 7:15pm.
Hope to see you there!!!
To get copies of this presentation, please email me at: marcus@bytesandbelief.com

Bytes & Belief Bible Study Lesson 2 – Multitasking

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We’re off and running with the second week of Bytes and Belief Bible Study at New York Covenant Church. Turn-out was fantastic!
This week’s class was centered on Multitasking (and what it says about us). If you couldn’t make the class in person, the lecture slides are available here (link below).
It’s not too late to join us in person!!!
The next class is Wednesday May 14 at 7:15pm. See you there!!!
(UPDATE: For copies of this lesson – please contact me via email or @bbblggr)

 

Bytes and Belief – Technology Bible Study Begins!!!

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Thanks to everyone who came out to the first class of Bytes & Belief Bible Study at New York Covenant Church. We had a full house, and there was lots of lively discussion. We are off to a great start!
If you weren’t able to join us for the first class, no need to miss out! The slides from the lecture are here for download (click the link below).
I’m putting something special together for next week’s class.
Hope to see you there!!!

(UPDATE: For copies of this lesson – please contact me via email or @bbblggr)