A recent study by the Oxford University  revealed a shocking conclusion: with the recent breakthroughs in computerization, robotics and automation, and at the speed that technology is developing, about 47% of the jobs in our current economy will be replaced by computers in the next 20 years.
Let me offer some personal reflections on this trend. On one hand, a big wave is coming. It has far reaching ramifications. And we need to be alarmed. But on the other hand, our faith put things in perspective for us; it grounds us more deeply in our identity in Christ which is unchanging; and a new environment demands a reflection of how we serve and do mission more effectively. Here are a few of my observations and reflections:
Anticipate massive change in society: One ramification of this finding is that we will anticipate a massive change in our society in the next 20 years. Computers will take over a lot of the existing workforce. Jobs most at risk are the ones that are more routine (logistics, haulage), whereas jobs that require creativity or managerial expertise will be more difficult to be replaced. If the lower paying and more routine jobs will be replaced, but the higher paying jobs remain unaffected, the income gap will likely widen. Social unrest will likely increase. Question to reflect: how do churches respond to the new social dynamics and what are some new opportunities to serve?
Education is key: So it is not difficult to conclude that we need to be prepared. If half of us will be forced to learn a new skill set in the next 20 years, we cannot afford to be complacent about our current knowledge and abilities. Continual education, personal learning, taking advantage of free online resources, achieving a level of technical competency, broadening our skill sets are all essential to one’s survival in this evolving economy.
Beware of idolatry: Before we get too optimistic about our insights into the future and our willingness to "stay ahead of the game”, I want to caution us that technological development is not the solution to the deepest human problem. Only Jesus Christ is the ultimate solution to the human problem. The Bible calls it sin, which is the unraveling of the fabric of the human existence - our alienation from God, people, and creation. Jesus uproots sin when he came and died and rose from the dead. And He started a movement to undo the effects of sins in this world. But ultimately it is God who will bring about the complete healing and restoration of the creation. Technology itself will not be able to solve the deepest human problem. Only God is to be worshiped as Lord and Savior, not technology.
Stewardship of technology: We want to remain productive in a new technological environment, because we are called to engage the world and not to withdraw from it. Stewardship is a weird word because we don’t talk that way anymore. But the idea is rooted in God being the Creator and He has entrusted the care of the creation to Adam and Eve and their progeny. He calls us to work and manage it. So our call as Christians entails being a good manager of God’s resources, including new technologies, for the flourishing of His creation.
[more on this topic in the next pastoral article by Pastor Calvin]