The headline caught my eye on CNN a few days ago:
Perhaps I paid attention because I’d just seen the movie Aloha on an airplane last weekend. In the movie, Bradley Cooper’s a good guy gone bad who ultimately finds (spoiler alert!) redemption by taking down a big, bad satellite. Cooper’s on to the fact that the well-intentioned piece of technology just actually might not be what its creator promises it is.
So when I spotted that headline at CNN, I dug a bit deeper and watched the accompanying video, an interview with OneWeb’s Greg Wyler. He outlines a $3Billion dollar plan for a squadron of low flying satellites which will orbit the planet and provide “five bars” of Internet connectivity to even the most remote parts of the world. CNN’s article offers SpaceX, Facebook and Google as other well-intentioned technology companies which are looking to make the World Wide Web truly worldwide.
This started me thinking about the various ways in which the Church calls us to be good companions to those in need. In part II of Chapter Three of Laudato Si‘, Pope Francis looks thoughtfully at “The Globalization of the Technocratic Paradigm”. Towards his conclusion of that section, he writes
All of this shows the urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution. Science and technology are not neutral; from the beginning to the end of a process, various intentions and possibilities are in play and can take on distinct shapes. Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur. (114)
Is solid wifi access as fundamental a human right as is clean drinking water or religious liberty? I’d argue no, for now.
But it’s clear that relief agencies such as Catholic Relief Services are effectively bettering the lives of many around the globe by providing them with access to tools such as Farmbook Suite or employing the latest modern communications technology to provide immediate life-saving aid when disasters strike. And even here at home, students who lack access to technology surely have less chance of succeeding in a competitive job market.
It’s hard to remember that fifteen years ago, when this website started, I created it using dial-up and software that came on a floppy disk. As we pray about how to lovingly serve those most in need in our world, I find it hard to ignore the emerging role that access to technology will play in our mission.
A question for you: Is access to the Internet now a fundamental human right?
Copyright 2015 Lisa M. Hendey
Image copyright Space-X Imagery, Pixabay