Editors commentary: Robot wars?


ENrobotWEB

A much-reviewed book grabbed me recently.

It is The Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of Mass Unemployment by Martin Ford*, a Silicon Valley software entrepreneur. His well-informed thesis is that any job which involves ‘routine’ can, with the astonishing advance in computer technology, be ‘learned’ by robots. They are set to become as available and as ordinary a sight as a motor car.

The idea that computers can only do what they are programmed to do is of course true at one level, but now computerised robots are programmed to learn. Things have moved on vastly since IBM’s ‘Deep Blue’ beat world champion Gary Kasparov at chess. The computer ‘Watson’ can win quizzes in which the answers are intuitive. ‘Eureqa’ has algorithms which can ‘do science’ – studying data and finding laws and equations. An artificial intelligence programme called ‘The Painting Fool’ can produce ‘original’ works of art.

Loss of jobs and Europe

So a House of Lords report from February 2015 estimated that 35% of UK jobs will fall victim to automation within 20 years. These jobs are not simply those of warehouse workers or those in service industries but the jobs of journalists, project managers, doctors, lawyers and more. Because of burgeoning technology, companies can make vast profits with far fewer staff. Whereas MacDonalds at present employs 1.8 million people worldwide, Google needs only 55,000. Robot factories have become so efficient as to undercut the lowest costs of Third World textile factory workers.

In coming months there will be much agonising over the referendum concerning whether Britain will stay in the European Union. Prime Minister Cameron is trumpeting the (debatable) concessions he has won from Brussels concerning benefits to which migrant workers might be entitled. But actually border controls and quotas might all be beside the point. Via computer technology…(to read more click here)

This article was first published in the March 2016 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, articles or reviews, subscribe to en or visit our website www.e-n.org.uk.

News from around the world to fuel our prayers


News in brief - March issue page 11

News in brief – March issue page 11

Here are a handful of news-bites included in the March issue of en to help us in remembering our brothers and sisters around the world. Please use these articles to spur your prayers, personally or in regular prayer meetings, as we pray for persecuted Christians worldwide.

EU: IS ‘genocide’
Cameroon: call for peace
Germany: alternative TV
Iran: released
Iraq: properties sold
Middle East: increased
Syria: released

 

For more news and prayer fuel from around world and in the UK visit our website or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

News in the UK to fuel our prayers


News in brief - March issue page 3

News in brief – March issue page 3

Here are a handful of news-bites included in the March issue of en. Please use these articles to spur your prayers, personally or in regular prayer meetings, as we pray for our country.

New co-ordinator
Shari’a Bill success
Fix Easter?
Mandarin study
Screening progress?
LGBT rejected?
Sunday attacked again

For more news and prayer fuel from around world and in the UK visit our website or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

Conversion in Iran…(March issue highlights)


Out now in the MARCH 2016 issue of Evangelicals Now…

Cover page March issue

Cover page March issue

• Missionary released by Islamic terrorists

• A remarkable story of conversion from Iran

Review of ‘Risen’ film of the Easter story – set to release in the UK March 18 (see risen.damarismedia.com for free resources)

The March 2016 issue is out now! Read it online or enjoy the printed paper with your morning cuppa!

You may subscribe to have regular access every month to all of the articles. Don’t miss out – subscribe here today!

When is failure faithful


Dr. Mike Ovey asks if current evangelicals are in denial about some important matters

image: iStock

image: iStock

A week ago I was at a major Church of England jamboree as a friend was installed in a new and more senior post.

The cathedral was packed, hats and dog collars were on view and just for a moment it was easy to pretend. Easy to pretend that the Church of England was central rather than peripheral in the life of our country and its citizens. Easy to pretend that we are a success story rather than a tale of failure. So too, frankly, with evangelicals. We meet at our conferences, theatres are packed, cafés overflow and for a moment we forget.

Some encouragements but…

I quite appreciate that it is emotive and depressing to talk of ‘failure’, and that most of us prefer something more upbeat. On the other hand, isn’t there a risk of denial? Again, I am not saying there are no encouragements. It is great to hear of church plants, of sinners turning by God’s grace to the Lord Jesus through our outreach. And there certainly is a contrast between an evangelical movement that clings on and just holds its own numerically and the catastrophic downturn in churches that thought theological liberalism was some kind of answer. Obviously, by almost any measure, liberalism has failed in our country, failed numerically, failed in the popularity stakes and failed in faithfulness. If anything, I think those obvious points need to be made even more forcefully now.

Who are we not reaching?

But I wonder whether this doesn’t lead us to gloss over some of our own realities. We rightly admit that there are unreached people groups in the UK, thinking largely of race. We are far less comfortable admitting there are also increasingly unreached classes, and not just the various underclasses in our cities, but classes of entrenched interest and power in the creative and media sectors.

These classes have enormous influence, not wrong in itself, but that influence has been used to reframe what counts publicly as right and wrong. Notable examples have been the support for…(to read more click here)

Dr Mike Ovey

This article was first published in the November issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, articles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

Capital Gains by Graham Miller: The invisible mission field


London City Missionary Paul Chierico visits a friend at a Peckham nursing home

London City Missionary Paul Chierico visits a friend at a Peckham nursing home

Reading through Scripture I am struck by Christ’s commitment to those on the margins of society.

I feel challenged that he didn’t use clever strategies to aim first to reach the best and brightest from the Jerusalem temple school so that they could be useful for his efforts. Instead, Jesus spent time with lepers, tax collectors, fishermen, women and Samaritans. In recent years the movement to revitalise the church with new plants and initiatives has sometimes focused on the young, the bright and the mobile. If we are to be faithful to the Great Commission we must be careful that our outreach doesn’t leave out large segments of society.

Ten million pensioners

One growing group who urgently need reaching with the good news of Jesus Christ is the elderly. One in six of us is over the age of 65; that’s a staggering ten million people of pensionable age. Three million of us are over 80 and that figure is set to rise. We are an ‘ageing population’.

Our missionary in Dagenham, Brandon, tells me that he often meets older people while visiting door to door on the Becontree Estate. Many are lonely and isolated and very happy to have someone to talk to. Brandon is shocked by the lack of basic Bible knowledge or awareness of Jesus among these people. ‘The god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). He visits a widow who has prepared every element of her funeral but has not considered how she will face her maker. Too often there is an assumption that….(to read more click here)

Graham Miller is the chief executive of London City Mission.

This article was first published in the November 2015 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, articles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

Bad day tonic (book review)


POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGEPostcards from the edge
Finding God In Hard Places
By Ian Coffey
IVP. 135 pages. £7.99
ISBN 978 1 783 592 050

The words we write ‘from the edge’ can often be the most insightful and profound, encapsulating what really matters when our journey is dark and challenging.

The rubbish is cleared away and the values that are lasting come to the fore. With warm transparency, a strong degree of emotional intelligence and a big pastoral heart, Ian Coffey explores the depths that many of us can experience when circumstances are desperate and we need to discover the God who walks with us during our most difficult times.

Characters in crisis

Each chapter deals with a biblical character facing crisis, but begins and ends with a contemporary story, or a personal illustration from the author himself. This adds to the book’s authenticity, making the applications real and giving a tone of relevance and integrity. The tough issues are addressed, the doubts and fears are explored and there is a refreshing absence of simplistic clichés and trite platitudes. The content is both substantial and accessible, an effective and helpful combination.

Postcards from the Edge could very easily be used as a study guide in a group context (to read more click here)

Sian Baker
Lansdowne, Bournemouth.

This article was first published in the November issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, articles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.