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Bible Engagement and Technology

Have you ever wondered what the impact of technology will be on Bible engagement in the future? When Star Trek visualized the holodeck, holosuite and holoprograms it opened the eyes of my imagination. I pictured a hologram with me in the crowd watching Elijah face off with the prophets of Baal. I envisioned bringing him a bucket of water to drench the offering and altar. Then, as God sent fire to consume the offering the sensors in my holosuit ignited feelings of heat, causing me to involuntarily shield my face.

Far fetched? Maybe not. Technology is developing by leaps and bounds. Kevin Kelly, editor of Wired, believes our technological advances will make the previous 20 years pale in comparison (cf. Business Insider).

Twenty years ago computers and the world wide web were in their infancy. E-commerce was being launched and CD-Rom drives were replacing floppy disks. Smart phones didn’t exist. Their forerunner, the IBM Simon, was available at a cost of $899 (US). It had a battery life of one hour.

Twenty years ago the Bible was mainly accessed as a printed document. Bible Gateway, a website for reading and searching for different versions and translations of the Bible, was in the early stages of making the Scriptures available online (started by Nick Hengeveld in 1993). Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes) existed but it was only in 2004 with the creation of Facebook that we could easily share Bible texts with multiple friends via social media. The YouVersion Bible App didn’t exist (Bobby Gruenewald launched it in 2008).

Gordon E. Moore, co-founder of the Intel Corporation, in a 1965 paper, observed that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. “Moore’s Law” is still proving true. In 15 years, at the current rate of Moore’s Law, the average laptop (if they still exist) will be computing at the same rate as the human brain. This will potentially pave the way for synthetic human brain transplants.

iRobot and friends will soon be impacting society in an extraordinary way. Robotics and artificial intelligence technology is advancing rapidly. We’re presently living in the decade of biotech, but the next decade will certainly be the decade of AI and robotics (cf. Mashable).

In the next 10 years “big data” (the new buzzword) will release data from language to make it machine-readable and recombine it in an infinite number of ways that we’re not even thinking about (cf. Kelly). Universal translation will become commonplace in mobile devices.

Augmented reality glasses, ultra thin flexible OLED screens and self-driving cars are on the way (cf. NBC News). A Sony engineer told me last year that televisions will be replaced by small projectors that form their own virtual screens against any physical background. And, according to two analysts with the IP & Science business of Thomson Reuters; solar power will be the largest source of energy on the planet, electric micro-commercial aircraft could serve as taxis, and research into quantum teleportation will be underway (cf. Pacific Standard).

So will there be a holographic Bible? Maybe! Oculus Rift Technology is exploring “immersive cinema … with real time story-driven VR experiences that let the viewer step inside and become part of the story.”

Microsoft’s existing technology, HoloLens, also holds potential. It enables texts and images to be placed on real world backgrounds (cf. Christianity Today). But the technology has a long way to go. Software design is outpacing hardware development. Existing holographic glasses are in their infancy. Yet even in these early stages it’s speculated that HoloLens could usher in “widespread, transformative, digitally assisted Bible study” and “a holographic Bible or Bible study library” (cf. The Christian Post).

© Scripture Union Canada 2015

2 Corinthians 4:5

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