Areas of Interest: Futures of the Church

Technology Trend Resource: Insights from Futurist Amy Webb

Resource Recommendation
10 - minutes to engage
Topics: Arts & Media, Science & Technology, Theo-Futures Research

Technology Trend Resource: Insights from Futurist Amy Webb

By Joel Murphy

We all struggle to understand how to apply new technology – that is if we can even understand how it functions! However, as Christian leaders, understanding new technologies and their potential impact on the church and its members is essential. 

Below are some high-level take aways from Amy Webb’s annual keynote at the 2024 SXSW conference, where she introduces her Technology Trend Report (free online), which is composed of 695 trends related to technology. 

Webb is the founder and CEO of the Future Today Institute and is a renowned futurist known for her technology and business insights. In 2023, she was ranked the #4 most influential management thinker by Thinkers50, a global ranking of business thought leaders.  

 

 
Key Take Aways: 

The Technology Supercycle: Webb describes our current era as a ‘technology supercycle,’ driven by the convergence of artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology, and an interconnected ecosystem of devices and sensors.  

General Purpose Technology: Like the locomotive, the printing press, and the internet, the three converging technologies are connected to ALL facets of our lives. This is making waves of immense change and uncertainty. 

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt: This is a collective experience for all of us. Webb describes this current experience as Generation T (transition). 

AI Considerations and Accountability: There are still issues of bias and transparency within AI technology. It is not perfect, and Webb raises the concern of developers are motivated by speed and skill, not ethical considerations. 

Fight for our Future: Webb emphasizes that this technology supercycle can be positive, but that policy makers, businesses, and leaders need to work together. 

Reflecting on Technological Trends from a Christian Perspective 

At the Futuring Hub, we aim to engage with future thinkers like Amy Webb and explore critical questions such as: 

  • How might these trends and research findings intersect with and influence individuals’ spiritual formation, church life, and church practice? 
  • What does it mean to remain faithful to the church’s mission (as commissioned by Jesus) considering these trends? 
  • How can we evaluate these trends from a theological and biblical perspective? 

Green (2017) argues that technology is integral to the Church’s success and suggests viewing technology on a spectrum of ‘good,’ ‘neutral,’ and ‘bad’ based on its potential to facilitate moral actions. He emphasizes the need for the church to discern which technologies can be harnessed for good versus those that clearly cause harm (p. 8). Notably, some technologies, such as social media, can be used for both good and bad purposes. 

Embracing and Evaluating New Technologies 

Webb’s talk serves as an engaging resource for theological reflection. Rather than dismissing new technologies as inherently ‘bad,’ we are encouraged to consider how these advancements might be leveraged for good in our local contexts. Consider her comments about the importance of staying informed around these new technological developments, how can we do this? How can we embed prayer and theological reflection into our decisions about how to (or not) engage in new technology? 

Conclusion: The Role of Technology in Church Life 

Reflecting on how these technologies can support the daily functioning of your church or institution and positively (or negatively) influence the spiritual wellbeing and growth of your community is vital. By doing so, it equips us to navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by these technological advancements with intentionality and faithfulness. 

References: 

Watch Amy Webb’s talk here or read an online article summarizing her keynote here. 

Green, B.P. The Catholic Church and Technological Progress: Past, Present, and Future. Religions 2017, 8, 106. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8060106 

 

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