We hear a lot about the 4th Industrial Revolution and where it will lead is everybody's guess. An article by a literary critic in the Catholic Peace Weekly wonders what it will mean for the Church. Korea has made the study of this new revolution a presidential committee—important for the future of the nation. What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
There are various answers. The first revolution was the mechanization of the steam engine; the second, electricity-oriented industrialization; the third, the computer and internet world of the latter half of the 20th century; the fourth artificial intelligence— information and communication technologies, machine autonomy. We have already seen how this is working in the world of today.
This will change our lives and the world. We will experience a new world, which the word revolution aptly describes. Whether it will be positive or negative is still being discussed. Many jobs will be lost, a fear that a few wealthy persons will monopolize the benefits, and the way we look upon humanity and human dignity will be shaken.
He mentions the bestselling author of Sapien (A Brief History of Humankind) and Homo Deus (A Brief History of Tomorrow) by Yuval Noah Harari, a bestseller also in Korea. Human beings become Gods. He quotes a passage from Homo Deus. "The next goal of humanity that has achieved unprecedented levels of prosperity, health, and peace will be immortality, happiness, and divinity. After reducing the mortality rate from hunger, disease, and violence, the task is to overcome aging and death itself. The next thing to do is to bring humanity out of the animal-level struggle for survival, to upgrade mankind to God, and to convert Homo sapiens to Homo Deus."
It is not difficult to connect this provocative and drastic insight of Harari with the fourth industrial revolution, especially with respect to the future and meaning of religion. Harari is quoted as saying: "Traditional religions may have been discarded, but new religions can replace them. In some cases, the existing religion adapts to the changing conditions and gains importance."
In the Fourth Industrial Revolution era, will people continue to seek religion? What is the role of the Church? The more information and communication technology expands and connects people to the cyberspace network, the more loneliness, and sense of alienation is felt by more people. Cyber relations are likely to flow into superficial pseudo-human relationships. There is also a possibility that not only personal relations but also social bonds and community characteristics are weakened.
The role of religion, especially the role of the church, may be found at this point. The pope spoke on video at the TED conference in Vancouver, Canada on April 25, 2017, on the theme of "revolution of tenderness." The Pope said: "How wonderful it would be if the growth of science and technological progress would invite equality, social cohesion, and engagement. When we are not only an "I" but a "You" a "We" the true revolution begins. We all need each other. "