The robots are coming; the robots are coming. A study by Citigroup and Oxford University predicted that 47% of all jobs could be automated in the next decade. The McKinsey Global Institute found that nearly half of all jobs could be done by technology that already exists. From artificial intelligence to robots and drones to automated kiosks and self-learning software, the workplace is changing. Technology will take a bigger role in the global economy over the next two decades.
But what effect will automation have on society and the way that people look at their jobs? What about how people look at themselves and their sense of self worth? For many people, including some Christians, their sense of identity is tied up into their work success.
The Robot Economy — A Challenging Future
This topic was covered last year in a Christianity Today cover story titled “Hope in the Humanless Economy.” And this article made me stop and think, “What value do I really add to my job as a business writer and journalist?” Sure, a machine can do part of what I do. But there are parts of what I do that can’t be easily programmed. It requires a human soul and spirit.
Kevin Brown and Steven McMullen wrote in the Christianity Today article, “A key task for the church in the automation economy is to unmoor us form the materialist narrative and to help us reimagine our self-worth in a more faithful way. The body of Christ can help all of its members live into a vision of humanity constituted by universal dignity and worth, relationship and community, and creative and productive service.”
You can read the entire story from Christianity Today at http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/july-august/how-to-have-hope-in-humanless-economy.html.
New Ways to Think about Work
The following are some important ideas to remember as the global economy changes and automation eliminates many jobs:
- As Christians, our true identity is in what God says about us not our performance evaluation.
- Seeking our security in a job can be an idol and can disappoint us regardless if we have a stable job or not.
- All humans are made in God’s image, and He uniquely designed us to be creative, emotional, caring, intelligent and active in ways that machines will never be able to do.
- The robot economy is not the enemy of our future. Refusing to adapt and make changes to be ready for the future is. Christians can help to champion job training and preparing future generations for emerging industries.
- One of the roles of the church is to help people cope with the anxiety, despair and sense of loss that can come when people lose a job or experience workplace transition.
- The Holy Spirit can inspire and guide us in how to work to develop better job skills and prepare for the future.
- Christians can be thought leaders in driving a new American dream that redefines how we look at work, our priorities and our abilities.
- All work should be done to the glory of God and that gives even routine, mundane jobs a sense of purpose and dignity.