Knight Rider, Apple Watch & The Tower of Babel

Apple Watch 3In the 1980’s there was a show called Knight Rider. It was incredibly cool. And the big star of this show – and a lot of due respect to David Hasslehoff here – was the car, KITT. A self-aware supercomputer in a groovy black trans-am. And a watch which the car’s owner, Michael Knight, could talk to the car on.

Last week Apple announced the launch of the Apple Watch. A watch we will be able to talk to and command, but which will also receive and send text messages, measure our blood pressure, and connect online.

Technology is advancing at a rapid rate.

It’s amazing to think the first space aircraft which went to the moon were powered by as little electricity as it takes to run a kettle. The average iPhone is a million times faster than the first home computer.

Social media is already making the world a far smaller, and quicker place, changing the way we live. The next big advancement is likely to be the pursuit of artificial intelligence and research into how transfer human consciousness onto a supercomputer. A technology which may be as little as 20 years away.

But many say technology is destroying us. They say we need to stop the advancement of technology, scale back, and go back to how things ‘used to be’. According to them technology is the cause of many of the problems in our world, and ultimately damages us. They say we need to limit and control it, stop advancing.

However, this is to fundamentally misunderstand technology and humanity. To understand this issue further, we need to go back in time.

To the brick, and the tower of Babel.

The story of Babel in the book of Genesis, is the story of when a bunch of people try to build a city with a tower up to the sky.

But it’s more than this.

This is a story about, (among other things), technology. Someone invented something new-brick and mortar-which allowed people to make and do things they hadn’t been able to do before.

Sound familiar?

A powerful leader, Nimrod, who was essentially building an empire, gets his hands on new technology and begins to use it to set himself up as a god, crushing everybody and everything in his path.

Again, this might be familiar.

You see, there’s nothing wrong with the technology itself. Bricks were and continue to be a great invention, which advanced the human race forward in revolutionary ways. No one is going to argue the invention of a brick is a bad thing.

But in the wrong hands? It begins to become a weapon. A means to build an empire. A tool to hurt people. And a means to achieve what many argue has been the goal of the human race from the beginning…

…to try and make ourselves gods.

But here’s the key point. The flaw is not the technology.

It’s with the people using it.

Or rather, abusing it. (tweet that here)

The Heart of the Problem

The greatest modern example of this, quite clearly, is the internet. It’s arrival has allowed people to be connected in a way they never could have been before. It’s opened up opportunities we would never have subsequently had.

But it’s open to abuse. Cyber-bullies, people who groom youngsters online. Scam artists conning people out of loads of money.

And all of these abuses have one thing in common.

They are the result of human decision.

Not technology. Human decision.

The decision to abuse someone is a human decision. Tweeting someone abuse or grooming a young person online is an human decision. Scamming someone is the act of a person making a decision to con someone out of money.

Human action, human decision causing pain and suffering to others.

Technology is merely the tool.

We must be very careful before we blame technology for so many of the world’s problems, and say it’s ruining our world.

After all, imagine if the inventors of the brick had said that?

No buildings. No houses. No hospitals.

imgresYou see, at it’s best, technology advances the world. It makes it better. It makes us all better, healthier, more connected, more educated, with more freedom and knowledge. It transforms our lives.

And it gives us cool TV shows like Knight Rider, and great gadgets like the Apple Watch.

It’s the abuse of technology  by the human race which is so disastrous. And it’s not only criminals who abuse it. It’s empire builders. Men and women, organisations who want to make themselves gods. Who want to dominate, oppress and keep people beneath them so their empire flourishes.

We all know who these are.

But the truth is we aren’t gods. None of us. And no amount of technological advancement, achievement or power will ever make us so.

Abuse of new technology does, ultimately, expose the brokenness of humanity. And hopefully, we will begin to see this brokenness laid before us. Then see just the depth of our need for grace, mercy, forgiveness, and unconditional love and acceptance.

I believe this is found in the divine, in God. We must stop trying to be gods, and see the God who is already at work in the world. Who wants us to use what we create for good.

My hope is we begin to learn this lesson.

Before it’s too late.

Question For Reflection: 

Do believe technology is a danger to humanity…or is humanity more a danger to itself?

Let me know in the comments below!

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  1. lisajey on September 15, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    So true, but technology is much more powerful an addiction. So one could make this comparison: Apple may be compared to Nimrod: they wish to rule the world by further enslaving us with their products… People either must say no, or become further enslaved. I’ll be over here on my Samsung Galaxy S3. New enough, but old enough not to enslave me. LOL!!!!

    • James Prescott on September 15, 2014 at 5:45 pm

      Absolutely Lisa Jey – technology is an addiction. (I’ll look at that in a future post), totally agree. Interesting use of the Nimrod metahpor too – but you could say that of all major corporations (including Samsung). However, I’m not sure Apple want 100% of the market, but simply to maintain their current share and increase it as much as they can. They know they will never get 100%, and so do most companies. But it’s an interesting metaphor nonetheless. Great comment Lisa Jey, thanks!

  2. Bob Nailor on September 15, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    Technology IS an addiction. There are people who just have to have the bleeding edge, no matter what the cost. I remember (as a very small child) reading the Sunday funnies and Dick Tracy and his group used wrist communicators. Now, 50 yrs later, we use cellphones for instant gratification of technology. The speed of technology is out-pacing the knowledge of humans. There WILL BE a crash. Hopefully, we can survive.

    • James Prescott on September 15, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      Bob, most definitely it is. But abuse of it is different from addiction – abuse of technology is usually directed at people who are addicted from the people who want to abuse technology. They are two very different issues – and it’s important we are clear on that – that may be my next post on this topic. But I do tend to agree that we eventually will go way out of our depth, and suffer the consequences. Great comment Bob.

  3. Elyse Salpeter on September 15, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    “But here’s the key point. The flaw is not the technology. It’s with the people using it.” – this line hit me the most. I don’t think it has anything to do with religion, with beliefs, it has to do with people at their innate core. You give an evil person the tools to be more evil, they will use it. But you give the same tools to someone of good intentions? They can literally change the world. I think the real issue is that people fear technology, when they shouldn’t. It’s just change.

    • James Prescott on September 15, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      Spot on Elyse, summed it up completely. Really glad the post spoke to you & got you thinking. And I agree, we shouldn’t fear technology, but embrace it and use it to change the world. Thanks!

  4. Tara Fairfield on September 16, 2014 at 12:03 am

    I don’t think we’ll stop the forward movement of technology, but it will be up to each individual to decide who they serve. Will technology rule your life or vice versa. Loved reading your thoughts on this and all the great comments.

    • James Prescott on September 16, 2014 at 5:12 am

      Absolutely agree Tara, it’s up to us to decide who we serve, technology or God. Appreciate your encouragement & glad you like the post.

  5. La McCoy on September 16, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Got this one!

  6. RebekahLyn on September 19, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    I’m old enough to remember the excitement of receiving a letter in, gasp, the mailbox, but also young enough to be caught up in the techno craze. I find myself disengaging from the computer more and more, especially this past year. I think as a society we need to take a step back, appreciate what technology has given us, but also slow down to remember what’s truly important.

    • James Prescott on September 20, 2014 at 6:12 am

      Absolutely Rebekah, couldn’t agree more. And I too remember that feeling of finding a letter in the mail. Maybe we’ve lost something there.

  7. gbsblogs on October 3, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Very interesting take on Babel – similar to Rob Bell’s. I’m not entirely sure I can find anything of value in this passage as you can see from my blog:

    But I agree with your essential point. Technology has of course, been one of the greatest extenders of wealth in history.

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