Connected World

by Philip Larrey, Penguin, £14.99

The robots have started to arrive and more are coming. In an age of specialisation and accelerating change, where the great majority of students know less and less, dialogue with the Christian version of the wisdom of the ages should not only be mutually beneficial, but is actually necessary.

If society’s leaders are radically uncertain about what constitutes human flourishing, or bitterly divided about the type of society we are working towards, we should be acknowledging these differences and engaging in dialogue about these challenges, not ignoring them and half-consciously following whatever is the predominant consensus at any moment.

In this useful book Fr Philip Larrey, chair of logic and epistemology at the Pontifical Lateran University, and his interlocutors introduce us to many different worlds that are being changed by new technologies and by automation. I have no specialised knowledge on automation, or modern technology or artificial intelligence, but I am fascinated, and increasingly so – one of that vast majority of people who are watching with interest and some apprehension as this new tidal wave starts to move.

Most Christians are not doomsdayers, although that option is not outlawed. Indeed, because Christians believe original sin is universal – ie, that every human being has a flaw running through heart and mind so that none of us is completely innocent – we should be inclined to scepticism.

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