6/10/10

Encountering Embodied Humans

A couple nights ago I went to Theology on Tap to hear John O'Callaghan speak about "The Church & Science and Technology - Are Science and Technology the Enemy?" He didn't refer directly to the Catholic Church at all throughout it, but referred more implicitly to the body of Christ which the Church consists of. I'd like to summarize my experience of it rather than a comprehensive overview of all of it.
  • Regarding the ethical dilemma of creating technologies that may be used for evil, there are two things to consider:

    1. We need to remain concerned about the big picture and not just the work on our desk. I work in a small division currently which forces me to be aware of the business opportunities and risks rather than just the programming that has been assigned to me. This needs to be equally true of our moral ethics.

    2. The relationships we experience in our work are quite possibly more important than our work may be.

  • We struggle with whether the variety of emerging web technologies are good or evil. The internet was created to give the war machine access to academia, and it's first popular privatized adoption was in the pornography "industry". But now I can communicate with friends and family on the other side of the world. Technology is something creative and unless it's use requires an inherently evil act, it's morally arbitrary. We should always consider whether our particular use of a technology "promotes an encounter with an embodied person." I found that ideal to be a good summary of how technology should be used, and how it often fails to do so. For instance, do you withdraw from a spoken conversation when you get a cell call or text message?

  • John shared about how much he encouraged his children to read while growing up, and how much that has impacted their ability to focus. He said their capacity to write a paper in high school is better than many of his college students. They were and are given very little opportunity to watch TV or use facebook. He insisted that these technologies are resulting in weakened attention spans and an inability to focus long enough to be very creative or productive. Though as proof that he's not anti-technology, when he spent a lot of time in Rome he frequently skyped and used a GPS device to superimpose his walking route onto Google Earth and annotate the route with his reflections.