Modern views on how future technology is likely to change our lives range from bloviatingly aspirational visions of utopia to musings on whether the latest advancement in AI will destroy humankind in our lifetime or merely enslave us all in Matrix-style battery capillaries. Yet debates on whether technology is a neutral tool for our benefit or a near-unstoppable force leading us to a particular destiny are nothing new. In 1964, French philosopher and sociologist Jacques Ellul wrote The Technological Society, in which he argued technology had a totalizing effect that could potentially dehumanize our world in its never-ending effort to make all things efficient and “useful”.
While he’s somewhat critical of Ellul’s determinism, this episode’s guest—Jason Thacker—gleans much wisdom from Ellul’s warnings. Saving Elephants host Josh Lewis and Jason Thacker discuss competing views of technology and how they might help us for a foundation for dealing with the technological challenges we face in our digital public square.
About Jason Thacker
Jason Thacker serves as an assistant professor of philosophy and ethics at Boyce College in Louisville, KY. He also is a research fellow in Christian ethics and director of the research institute at The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is the author of several books including Following Jesus in the Digital Age and The Age of AI: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity. He also serves as the editor of The Digital Public Square: Christian Ethics in a Technological Society and co-editor of the Essentials in Christian Ethics series with B&H Academic. He is the project leader and lead drafter of Artificial Intelligence: An Evangelical Statement of Principles, and his work has been featured at Slate, Politico, The Week, USA Today, Christianity Today, World Magazine, The Gospel Coalition, and Desiring God.
He is a graduate of The University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies. He also holds a Master of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he is currently a PhD candidate in ethics, public theology, and philosophy. He serves as an associate fellow with the Kirby Laing Centre for Public Theology in Cambridge, an advisor for AI and Faith, fellow in science and technology at the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Seminary, and a research fellow with the ERLC Research Institute. He is married to Dorie and they have two sons.
You can follow Jason on Twitter @jasonthacker
In The Digital Public Square, editor Jason Thacker has chosen top Christian voices to help the church navigate the issues of censorship, conspiracy theories, sexual ethics, hate speech, religious freedom, and tribalism. Many of the contributing writers (David French, Bonnie Kristian, Bryan Baise, and Brooke Medina) have been prior guests on the Saving Elephants show.