Jim Denison | Denison Forum on Truth and Culture | Thursday, August 6, 2015
If you are a man, beware the robot revolution. A study published by two Oxford researchers estimates that 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be taken over by robots or computers by 2033. The study discovered that jobs performed primarily by men are at much greater risk than those performed by women.
For instance, more than 95 percent of the three million truck drivers in the U.S. are men; they could be replaced by autonomous vehicles. Men hold 97 percent of the 2.5 million U.S. carpentry and construction jobs; their tasks could be replaced by robots. However, women hold 93 percent of the registered nurse positions. According to the study, their risk of obsolescence is only .009 percent. Tasks involving a breadth of decisions and skills in a relational environment are least likely to be automated. Statistically, such jobs are more the purview of women than men.
The digital revolution affects every dimension of our lives. For students, Internet research is replacing libraries; textbooks are ebooks; live tutors are available online; tests are monitored by web-based proctoring services; papers are critiqued by computers.
Today, healthcare organizations use predictive modeling to anticipate medical issues; computers monitor patient health and medication; patients use peer-to-peer technology to choose healthcare options; robots assist surgical procedures; advances in genetics are literally transforming the diagnosis of disease and delivery of medical care.
But the digital revolution comes at a cost. Not only are jobs likely to be lost; our entire culture is being changed in ways we may not notice. In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari notes: "Our computers have trouble understanding how Homo sapiens talks, feels and dreams. So we are teaching Homo sapiens to talk, feel and dream in the language of numbers, which can be understood by computers." We are becoming more data-driven, analytical, and empirical, to the detriment of our intuitive selves, personal relationships, and spiritual lives.
And yet, the more our culture values the material, the more we need the spiritual. Thomas Merton observed, "Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul." That "something" will endure millennia after the digital revolution is forgotten. Where can we find the spiritual help and hope we need?
In John 14, Jesus promises, "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth" (vs. 16-17). As Anne Graham Lotz notes, "another" means "another who is exactly the same." In other words, "the Holy Spirit is exactly the same as Jesus, but without the physical body."
If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit indwells you today (1 Corinthians 3:16). Think of him as Jesus in your flesh, ready to guide and empower you. (Tweet this) Anything Jesus did 20 centuries ago, the Spirit can do today. But the Spirit is a gentleman who enters when he's invited (Revelation 3:20) and leads when he's followed (John 16:13).
So face the bewildering changes of our day with calm dependence on the Spirit of God. And remember with Tennyson:
Nothing worthy proving can be proven,
Nor yet disproven: wherefore thou be wise,
Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt,
And cling to Faith beyond the forms of Faith.
Publication date: August 6, 2015
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