Calendars, Clocks and Time — Part 4
This week I have asked individuals whose chosen careers may give then some insight into the future. They each have agreed to look forward and share with us their thoughts of the world in 2116.
Questions of privacy and individual freedoms have been around since our country was founded. Today’s technological discoveries have brought great benefits to society. The problem is that in the next 100 years criminal elements will also take advantage of this technology. Will future governments have to reexamine freedoms the constitution gave us? The challenge? Find ways to protect citizens from crimes in a future world of scientific achievements.
Tim Haught is Wetzel County’s Prosecuting attorney and is currently in his fourth term. After graduating from Ohio State with a BA in Political Science, he went on to West Virginia College of Law. Working with the law in his own practice and then as county prosecutor has given him an understanding of the challenges working in the criminal justice system today. Every day he works with law enforcement to bring solutions to criminal acts committed in our community.
Tim Haught – In the year 2116 our legal system will continue to confront new crimes as a result of technological advances. It will also have to address the moral, ethical, social and legal issues associated with changing technologies. One danger is that our society may become panoptic as described by the French philosopher, Michel Foucault in his book, Discipline and Punishment. As we move beyond the age of digital information, wireless communication and hand held devices, it is not hard to envision the ultimate Orwellian society where not only our online or wireless communications are monitored and controlled, but also our thoughts. Should we make the technological jump beyond laptops and hand held devices to physical implants that supplement or enhance the capacity of our minds or link our minds directly to machines or to one another, then we are faced with the very real possibility of someone stealing, monitoring or controlling our very thoughts. Panopticism becomes a tangible and frightening possibility, particularly when coupled with advances in artificial intelligence. Consider the prospect of man governed by machine. Consider the possibility of individual minds forced to link with a collective consciousness for the “common good.” When there is no distinction between the personal computer and the mind, how do we protect our thoughts from surveillance or unreasonable searches and seizure? What rights to privacy do we have in such a world? Should our thoughts be regulated and controlled for the benefit of society? There is little doubt that our legal system will struggle with how to protect and maintain our freedoms in a society where the where the technology exists to exercise absolute control over not only our actions, but also our thoughts.
Rev. Dr. Victor L. Hunter is pastor of First Christian Church in New Martinsville, WV. He has served churches in London, England, New York City, Trenton, New Jersey and Evergreen, Colorado. He served as editor of Mission Journal, a journal of theology and ethics. He is the author of six books, including one novel and five books in the field of theology and pastoral care. He and his brother, Dr. Lanny Hunter, write together in the fields of religion and science. He is the author of over 30 journal articles and chapters in books and theological/pastoral dictionaries. He is married and has three children and six grandchildren
Rev. Hunter – Ever since the Enlightenment and the rise of science and the empirical method, there have been those who have predicted the disappearance of religion from culture. One might think religion would disappear under the weight of “evidence based” knowledge. But a funny thing has happened. Religion has clearly not disappeared. It still appears in all kinds of forms in every culture on the planet. Religion has always been present and will always be, including in 2116. Why? Because if there is a human culture at all, human beings are “meaning making creatures.” As long as there are humans, there will be the need for “meaning making.” While science answers many of the “What?” questions about life and our world, and will continue to do so?there continues to grow with equal force the desire to ask the “So What? Questions. These questions have to do with values, ethics, meanings, community, well-being and so forth.
The diversity in religion will continue to grow and become more important by 2116. There will be some universals, e.g., the experience of death and the implications of that for life now. But there will also be much more emphasis on particular cultural questions in local contexts – perhaps more so than universal questions. What kinds of stories will we be telling children to give them a sense of identity and purpose and meaning in a global world? There will still be the need for rituals to be enacted in life passages. There will still need to be communities of belonging and meaning making and care, compassion and support. The major world religions will be exploring both commonalities and differences in their stories and doctrines, but will need to lead the way in peace making, learning from each other, and human survival. Religion will either become a means toward life and love, peace and hope, or it will become a tool of bigotry, hatred and violence. Religions capable of dealing with cultural and religious pluralism will be going strong. Fundamentalism in any form of religion, with its penchant toward certitude and absolutism, will decline.
In the next segment of this series, West Virginia Northern Community College dean, Larry Tackett will look at the environment in the next century. Dean Tackett spent 30 years traveling the world and photographing many of the most diverse ecology systems on the planet. We will also learn from Instructor Scott Owen, of WVNCC Wheeling and New Martinsville campus, regarding his thoughts on the economic impact of a changing world going into the next century.
Together they will give us a glimpse into the future world of nature and economics as we look Through the Lens.