The Matrix is Upon Us! (Part 3 – Trust)

Recent news about technology has largely revolved around one core issue – trust.

The recent Facebook information scandal opened a lot of eyes about what big tech companies have been up to behind the scenes. Companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google are in a race to own the most information about you.

Just recently a report came out from the Norwegian Consumer Council entitled, “Deceived by Design: How tech companies use dark patterns to discourage us from exercising our rights to privacy.” The study paints a grim picture of these companies we’ve come to trust by outlining their shady information gathering practices.

Who knew the “information age” was about our information!? These companies are gathering mountains of data online about you and me for the purpose of monetization.

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain are great examples of the intersection between trust and technology. The lack of trust in world government and financial institutions was the impetus for the development of these technologies. The hope was to develop a decentralized currency that would transcend governments, financial institutions, and address global systemic financial injustices. Many were hopeful that blockchain would be the technological key that would free many third world countries from the chains of poverty and government corruption.

Now, a new technology called Hashgraph has claimed that it will supplant blockchain from its throne. They assert that Hashgraph will add a “trust layer” to the internet that will be totally fair. This has the potential to impact the stock market, online identity, gaming, cryptocurrency, online collaboration, and public ledgers where trust and security are vital. Hashgraph’s founders insist that this trust layer will be impenetrable to corruption and transform the internet as we know it.

Blockchain and Hashgraph are simply updated versions of the brick that was used to build the city of Babel so that, “…we may make a name for ourselves.” (Genesis 11:4) Thousands of years later, our motives have not changed.

So, should we trust these tech companies? Well, you probably already do.

Kevin Kelly, in his exhaustive work entitled, “The Inevitable: Understanding The 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future,” makes the intriguing point that regardless of what people say about whether they trust the internet or not, social media, or big tech companies, we all continue to feed them our information. Therefore, these companies have enjoyed immense success. Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re doing it, and often the information we share is more personal than we think.

In fact, Google analytics is beginning to reveal a very dark side to humanity thanks to the information we’re feeding it through Google searches. A recent New York Times bestseller entitled “Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What The Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are,” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, describes how the information analyzed by our Google searches has proven to be the most powerful and revealing insight into the human psyche to date. It gives a provocative look under the hood of who we truly are, often in contrast to who we claim to be. Davidowitz himself said he was shocked to find such a dark side to humanity through his research.

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This flies in the face of the pervasive paradigm of our culture, stemming from the secular humanist’s “enlightened” assertion, that humanity is progressing to an ever-more perfect state of being. Transhumanism, for example, espouses that technology will enable humans to take the next significant step in our evolutionary development. It’s ironic that technology is actually beginning to reveal evidence that contradicts these views which happen to play a fundamental role in forming that very technology.

So, if we can’t trust technology, big tech companies, or even ourselves, who can we trust!?

Trust has always been an issue since the beginning of time when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and fell into sin. The first thing they did was cover their nakedness because they were ashamed (Gen. 3:7). They didn’t just cover themselves in an attempt to hide from God but from each other as well. Suddenly, not only could they not trust God, they couldn’t trust each other.

Jesus, in John 3:19-21, says, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

If Jesus is who He said He was, and the Bible’s claims are true, then none of this is surprising. According to the Bible, we are all corrupted by sin and in need of redemption. We can’t trust each other because so many of us are living in the dark, serving our own selfish motives. At first glance technology can seem like a savior, freeing us from our own limitations and archaic processes. Yet, like any other god of our own making, it will let us down and only serve to reveal our depravity. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, we are left feeling naked and inadequate.

The only trustworthy person is Jesus. He proved His unconditional love for us by dying on the cross for our sin and rising from the grave to conquer death on our behalf. He stands now as our advocate and refuge for those who are humble enough to acknowledge their sin and step into the light. He is waiting to embrace us there.

As the church steps into the light, the world will hate us because it will convict them of their own sin.

But there will be some who will be drawn out of the darkness and into the light of salvation because of our testimony. In the wake of this fourth industrial revolution many will be left disillusioned, looking for a refuge, something of substance. It will be critical for us to keep our heads in the midst of the hype and not forget that we hold the truth of Christ within us, the hope of the world, and the only true reliability.

Although we face an uncertain future we know that the truth of Jesus will last forever, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)