“Man makes his plans, but God guides his steps”. This Old Testament passage in Psalms is sometimes used to argue that we should not make any plans as Christians. However, the context of this scripture makes it clear that making plans is not a problem. In fact, it is encouraged throughout the rest of God’s Word. “Lord help us to number our days, that we may apply ourselves to wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
For some cultures, planning ahead is an essential part of life, while for others it is more natural to take things a day at a time. Individual personalities may reflect a leaning towards one or the other. However, because of the biblical encouragement to make plans in order to use our God-given resources strategically and efficiently, we all must learn this discipline.
As I pondered this today, I couldn’t help but meditate on some of the trends in technology and societies we see coming in the next ten years. Ten years, one decade, seems like a good block of time to look at and to envision what life might be like for the people of this amazing little planet. How might these trends affect us in our personal lives, churches, and ministries? Are we positioned to impact this coming world for God’s Kingdom? How might we be better positioned to maximize our effectiveness?
The World by 2025
In 2025, in accordance with Moore’s Law, we will see an acceleration in the rate of change. Change will come faster and faster. Learn more about Moore’s Law here: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law
Here are eight areas where we’ll see extraordinary transformation in the next decade.
- A $1,000 Human Brain: In 2025, $1,000 should buy you a computer able to calculate at 10^16 cycles per second (10,000 trillion cycles per second), the equivalent processing speed of the human brain.
- A Trillion-Sensor Economy: The Internet of Everything (IoE) describes the networked connections between devices, people, processes, and data. By 2025, the IoE will exceed 100 billion connected devices, each with a dozen or more sensors collecting data. This will lead to a trillion-sensor economy driving a data revolution beyond our imagination. Cisco’s recent report estimates the IoE will generate $19 trillion of newly created value.
- Perfect Knowledge: We’re heading towards a world of perfect knowledge. With a trillion sensors gathering data everywhere (autonomous cars, satellite systems, drones, wearables, cameras, etc.), you’ll be able to know anything you want, anytime, anywhere, and query that data for answers and insights.
- 8 Billion Hyper-Connected People: Facebook (Internet.org), SpaceX, Google (Project Loon), Qualcomm & Virgin (OneWeb) are planning to provide global connectivity to every human on Earth at speeds exceeding one Megabit per second. We will grow from three to eight billion connected humans, adding five billion new consumers into the global economy. They represent tens of trillions of new dollars flowing into the global economy, and they are not coming online like we did 20 years ago with a 9600 modem on AOL. They’re coming online with a one Mbps connection and access to the world’s information on Google, cloud 3D printing, Amazon Web Services, artificial intelligence with Watson, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, and more.
- Disruption of Healthcare: Existing healthcare institutions will be crushed as new business models with better and more efficient care emerge. Thousands of startups, as well as today’s data giants (Google, Apple, Microsoft, SAP, IBM, etc.) will all enter this lucrative $3.8 trillion healthcare industry with new business models that dematerialize, demonetize, and democratize today’s bureaucratic and inefficient system. Biometric sensing (wearables) and AI will make each of us the CEOs of our own health. Large-scale genomic sequencing and machine learning will allow us to understand the root cause of cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative disease and what to do about it. Robotic surgeons can carry out an autonomous surgical procedure perfectly (every time) for pennies on the dollar. Each of us will be able to regrow a heart, liver, lung, or kidney when we need it, instead of waiting for the donor to die.
- Augmented & Virtual Reality: Billions of dollars invested by Facebook (Oculus), Google (Magic Leap), Microsoft (Hololens), Sony, Qualcomm, HTC, and others will lead to a new generation of displays and user interfaces. The screen as we know it — on your phone, your computer and your TV — will disappear and be replaced by eyewear. Not the geeky Google Glass, but stylish equivalents to what the well-dressed fashionistas are wearing today. The result will be a massive disruption in a number of industries ranging from consumer retail, to real estate, education, travel, entertainment, and the fundamental ways we operate as humans.
- Early Days of JARVIS: Artificial intelligence research will make strides in the next decade. If you think Siri is useful now, the next decade’s generation of Siri will be much more like JARVIS from Iron Man, with expanded capabilities to understand and answer. Companies like IBM Watson, DeepMind, and Vicarious continue to hunker down and develop next-generation AI systems. In a decade, it will be normal for you to give your AI access to listen to all of your conversations, read your emails, and scan your biometric data because the upside and convenience will be so immense.
- Blockchain: If you haven’t heard of the blockchain, I highly recommend you read up on it. You might have heard of bitcoin, which is the decentralized (global), democratized, highly secure cryptocurrency based on the blockchain. But the real innovation is the blockchain itself, which is a protocol that allows for secure, direct (without a middleman), digital transfers of value and assets (think money, contracts, stocks, IP). Investors like Marc Andreesen have poured tens of millions into the development and believe this is as important of an opportunity as the creation of the Internet itself.
By 2025, we will have likely started a human colony on Mars in a frantic search for any signs of life there and in the rest of our solar system. What if we do find some kind of primitive microbial (non-intelligent) life? How will that effect your theology? Are you prepared to share Christ to someone in the context of this kind of reality? Christians have dealt with these transformations in discoveries over many centuries, but are you prepared now for the changes in worldview that are coming in the next ten years? They are likely to be significant.
You may have read about these trends in other articles and books, as they are well documented. But have we considered how these trends in technology, economics, and society might affect how we do business? For Create International, this means the business of Media and Arts for Missions. What will it be like to have virtually everyone on the Internet? What will it be like when the Internet connects everything around us, not simply computers and phones, but your car, motorcycle, TV, and even your toaster? When the Internet becomes as common as the air we breathe, accessible anywhere at anytime? Augmented reality will be part of this new reality for everyone. Glasses, contact lenses, and wearable technologies of all types will be the new portal of vast amounts of information literally at everyone’s fingertips. Will people find our voice in the complexity of all of the information? How will we get the story of the gospel to their multiple screens of life?
With this kind of connectivity we will see the slow but steady disappearance of physical money, replaced with digital transactions and credit. How will this affect missions and the movement of funds? In the context of support raising and project fundraising, it is already happening to all of us. Will our churches and supporters begin paying us in Bitcoins? A universal system of transaction and currency is closer than you think.
How will these changes affect languages and cultures? After we have completed the 20/20 Vision, we will begin focusing on language groups, not of millions any longer; but with hundreds of thousands and even tens of thousands of people. How will this affect what we do and how we do it? What will it be like to have the Bible in every one of these languages for the first time in history? What will it be like to have Christian missionaries in every people group on the planet for the first time in history? All of these amazing milestones will come to pass within these next ten years. Are we ready? Are we thinking ahead with God? Or are we floating along on a cloud taking things as they come?
As disciplers and church and ministry leaders we would do well to begin considering these trends and coming realities, praying and asking God for the way forward, and seeking his wisdom on how to strategically position ourselves to have maximum impact for Jesus in the lives of this new emerging generation of diversity and globalization. What makes us unique and what unites us as a cluster of human cultures and nations?
Contemplating and praying into these issues is the responsibility of all of our Create International staff and associate staff. We are one family, a redemptive community of YWAMers, called together to fulfill God’s dream. Through the use of the most creative and dynamic tools of our age we will communicate His love to those who don’t yet know He loves them. With God’s help we will be ready.