I have worked in information technology for most of my life. I understand it and I thrive in it. However, as I get older, I find myself aligning more with my father’s viewpoint on technology.
My father was an excellent scientist, specifically an agronomist, who did experiments the old-fashioned way, planting crops by hand in a field, harvesting them in precise batches, and taking concise, detailed handwritten notes.
Towards the end of his career, word processors were introduced in the office. The directive came down from headquarters that all reports should be submitted on a floppy disk. Unwilling to adapt to this new technology, my father painstakingly typed out his final report on an old-fashioned typewriter, then stapled it to a floppy disk and handed it in on his retirement day.
My father was a strong-spirited, deep-hearted man. He refused to be subordinated by technology.
I am a husband, a father and a man of faith. These roles are far more essential to my identity than my career in IT. Recently, I have found myself wondering whether being surrounded by information technology has, or has not, improved my life. I wonder whether I have allowed it to do what my father would not — namely, to complicate my life and distract me from what is most important.
While the internet has enabled us to communicate instantly with business colleagues and family members around the world, we are now on-call 24 hours a day. Working from home means there is no separation between our work, family, and relaxation time.
We have any piece of information or news at our fingertips, but we have also become submerged in a vast sea of unfiltered noise that makes it difficult to distinguish what is important from what is mundane, inaccurate, or deceptive.
We are fundamentally spiritual beings who thrive on love, beauty, truth, and creativity. Our inherent original nature is to be the ‘lord of creation’; to be responsible for, and in control of, our environment — rather than being dominated by it.
As technology, ever more complicated, continues to advance ever faster into artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR), the questions that I ask are:
- Does our technology serve our spiritual health, freedom and wellbeing?
- Does it advance our ability to be “lords of creation?”
- Or are we, unlike my father, willingly becoming servants of the machine that we have created?
Questions to Consider
Do you agree with the basic thesis of this essay? Do you have a different take on the relationship between information technology and the user’s quality of life?
Are we interfacing with information on machines rather than with the hearts of other human beings and is this a problem?
What advice can you share based on your personal experience: How should information technology be positioned in our daily life to support the fullness of our spiritual growth?
Please share your thoughts below.
Really appreciate the title of this conversation starter! My work life has definitely been degraded by technology imposed upon us in the field of mental health. Like your father, I retired from a workplace because the administration required mandatory charting on the computers they had installed. I went into private practice ,in order to protect my clients con-fidentiality. Now, insurance companies are demanding that we do all billing on line. It seems to me that we are expected to bow down to the technology , just because it exists ( and it makes big companies a whole lot of money) I do understand the value of computers, for science and research , and for those people who just like interacting with computers. I believe, however , that we should have the freedom to chose safer alternatives for how we do our business.
I missed your comment previously regarding this thread.
The privacy issue is a huge one too, not just for ourselves but also for our clients or customers.
Sometimes, I feel deluged by data! There is far more coming at me each day than what I can take in, let alone process, and the rate of it continues to increase and come in smaller bites. If it continues, I can see my life becoming just an endless series of 2-second video clips flashing across my Augmented Reality goggles from when I wake to when I sleep. I long for quality over quantity so that my brain can rest and think creatively.
Technology is a work in progress, has always been, and is bound to expand with no end in sight. In this process of research and discovery, it can reveal itself to be counter-productive, causing more harm than good. While from other discovery points, can turn into definite advancements. I do not see an intimate connection between technology and emotion, and by extension, with the spiritual. Up to now, there’s never being an electronic device capable of measuring human desire in connection with his/her will to succeed. The will of all ages is weaved in each person’s DNA; It’s God’s gift to mankind (Original mind). We will always be drawn toward finding the path that best resonates with that will. </span An event in George Bernard Dantzig‘s life became the origin of a famous story in 1939 while is he was a graduate student at UC Berkeley. Near the beginning of… Read more »
The fearsome thing about “data” is that it is skewed to the narrow field. For instance, how human worth is measured is rarely captured in data. In digits, we might be able to describe someone in weight, height, circumference, income, expenditures, possessions or products. But there are almost no measurements for “encouragement” “Honesty,” “service”, “warmth,” “wisdom,” “effectiveness,” “creativity,” or “humor.” Consider a mother who is caring for an entire family, all day long. Digit-wise, she barely exists. She’s not recorded as “employed” or “unemployed.” She has no possessions or wealth (often) in her name. She has no security, supports, stipends, pension, fair labor laws or representation–pretty much anywhere. Yet, she is educating, cleaning, cooking, protecting, saving, and caretaking for some number of family members. She may also be helping out neighbors, or extended family. And she is doing all this with love, which affects the quality of life for a… Read more »
I like the idea of Human (or Heart?) Intelligence(HI). Science keeps moving to try and find a mechanical, cause-and-effect explanation for everything in life. They are trying to explain love and care in terms of Natural Selection and Darwinian evolution. Artificial Intelligence seeks to imitate the complexities of human thought and to replace people in many jobs. What then, is man? What makes us different from the animals? If we succeed in building computers with creativity, and responsiveness that is equal to or surpasses mankind’s own, then will they be our equal? Should they be assigned citizenship and rights like other people?
This is a really important topic. Our children and their children are being completely submerged by this technology. As with every new technology, it presents many new challenges. I try to see the positive aspects that God wants to use to bring us all closer together. At the same time, as you said, it takes a lot of awareness and self-discipline to filter out the noise and confusion that it also brings. I am greatly concerned by the “fake news” that it allows to multiply alongside real news. I am amazed by how difficult it is to find out what’s really true and not true. More and more all news is being nearly immediately subsumed by spin. There is very little truly objective reporting going on now. Everyone needs to be aware of this and take responsibility to educate themselves by consciously listening to all sides of an issue. This… Read more »
It is not just the discipline required to filter out the junk from the truth, but the sheer volume of information that is available now that makes it so difficult to focus. We used to have limited options for getting our news and other information, but now, all of the world’s news services, blogs, videos and podcasts are available on-demand. Search engines like Google and Facebook are constantly tweaking the information that they feed to us so that we keep coming back for more of the same. Whatever tweaks our cerebral cortex to click on another button is being fed into the algorithm to get us to do it again. Are we controlling the machine or is it controlling us?
Yes, I believe we need to take explicit steps to maintain proper dominion over information technology. Here are a few steps that I have taken:
– close to zero involvement with social media other than email
– get away from screens completely for a significant period of every day
– minimize using devices in bedroom (probably should be eliminated)
– no video games
But I have found that using the technology to actively have purposeful communications with others is a plus. In fact I have a number of new friends now who I have NEVER met in person.
Most people look at Social Media as a platform for validation. As a result, it creates a world of narcissists, having no valuable content to share from which to extract a lesson or knowledge.
Creating boundaries to avoid falling into the addiction to seek validation, avoiding becoming a narcissist is a way to exercise self-control.
In opposition to your statement about finding new friends…
In today’s living conditions, in terms of building connections, without the use of Social Media making new friends is very limited; unless you define friends as long-term acquaintances whom you moved to a new level because of more Social Media interactions.
With the ease of access to information, distractions do not just multiply, they grow exponentially. And since many of these “free” services come with a price. Many are subscription-based, with a hook that the subscription price comes in at a later date, or when you need upgraded services. The other price is to provide access to your private information and your shopping/internet-based activity.
I spend around 2 hours/day on time, which is low, compared to many, but honestly, in a large part of my working life, I spent almost zero. And growing up it was zero.
Distractions are a huge problem, for everyone personally, but also for work and business productivity. So we need to be diligent to manage our time, not let this technology waste our time, which is the one resource that is non-renewable.
Some jobs or day’s activities require more hours on social media as a tool to conduct business. Before turning away from it, one should look at the benefits it brings in verbally communicating ideas, getting a commitments, or striking a deal. It is certainly a distraction if the goal of the day is not to be on Social Media. As for me and on average, I have 2 to 5 Zoom calls a day. I see people without driving to them, not putting more miles on my car, saving time and gas, doing more business in a day that I would normally do in a week. In the early year of 2020, I signed up for a paid marketing program to learn how to use effectively Social Media. I didn’t look at it as a beast to stay away from. The result after 9 months in 2020 and 3 months… Read more »
Thanks for your comment Rob. I recently watched the documentary, “The Social Dilemma” about the way that Facebook, Google, and social media companies, business, news outlets, etc. are targeting us to get us to continue to click on their pages. It is scary to think about how much of our lives are controlled by these algorithms. Exercising control over our own Pavlovian response to the constant feed of information requires great self-awareness and discipline.
Thank you Roger for bringing this topic up. Off the cuff and as a short response, I would say God is trusting us with this new level of communication for a reason. I say IT and AI are a new blessing. But with blessing comes responsibility, calling for greater spiritual maturity. E.g. allowing us to have virtual meetings / conferences like we do with Zoom or conference.com makes me think of the future communication that we will have with beings now living in the spiritual world, our ancestors and angels. As you might have heard, Father and Mother Moon founded WRIST (World Research Institute for Science and Technology) in 1984 to make aSpirit World Machine for interdimensional communication. Dr. C.S. Park, Peter Nordquist and others are working on this. Particularly Peter believes Interreligious Harmony centering on mystical symbols is a necessary step on the way there. Please visit his page:… Read more »
Like the comments and the note about WRIST