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Kevin Kelly talks and writes about the one machine which, he says, the internet is becoming.  Read his complete post here and another post here.  Here’s Kelly describing the one machine in his own words —

“The next stage in human technological evolution is a single thinking/web/computer that is planetary in dimensions. This planetary computer will be the largest, most complex and most dependable machine we have ever built. It will also be the platform that most business and culture will run on. The web is the initial OS of this new global machine, and all the many gadgets we possess are the windows into its core. Future gizmos will be future gateways into the same One Machine. Designing products and services for this new machine require a unique mind-set.”

The amazing thing is, if you have a computer, you are already a microcomponent in the one machine.  Add all the computers in the world together (internet), link them up (web), make all the information searchable (links) and — bingo — one machine.  Which is only going to get bigger. 

Kelly contends the one machine is approaching the computing power of 1HB — one human brain.  But by 2040, the one machine’s computing power will be that of 6-billion human brains.  Nice leap.  Already the one machine uses 5% of the total energy in the world. 

Here’s the roll-out for how this one machine evolves —

  1. Link computers.  Done.
  2. Link documents and pages. Done.
  3. Link data. Done.
  4. Link things.  Not yet. 

And what Kelly means by linking things is this — each thing will have within it a ‘connection’ with the essence of that thing whether it is design, performance, information, or location.  Then, things will be connected directly, not through other devices. 

“That fourth stage is the drift towards linking up the things themselves. You want all the data about a thing to be embedded into the thing. You want location information embedded at, or in, the location itself. You actually want to connect not to the airline’s computer, nor to the airline’s flight page, nor to the flight data, but to the flight itself. Ideally, we would connect to the embedded processing and raw information in the airplane, in your particular seat, at  the airport’s slot — the entire complex of items and services we call “the flight.” What we ultimately want is an internet of things.”

Now, if we have an internet of things, how does that change church?  Well, meeting times could be totally flexible, more like meetups than fixed place/time events.  Connections will be digital, so that congregations could exist not in physical proximity to each other, but in digital proximity to each other.  Think myspace, you tube, and google (plus a bunch more), all linked together in realtime, live and carried around in your pocket. 

This one machine is also always on, meaning connections could be made across time zones, around the world, and 24/7. 

Money will flow over this one machine, so contributions do not have to be made in person.  Imagine someone walking down a street in Chicago.  This person encounters a woman who asks for some grocery money to feed her children.  Our good samaritan connects with a dozen people over her cloudbook right then, who each kick in $5 a piece, which lands at the grocery as a credit for this woman in her name, with a passcode.  Kind of like Western Union without the middle man — at least physically.

Get ready for the decentralized, non-expert church.  What the web did for knowledge and opinion, it will certainly do for church, too.  2040 is only 32-years away.  What are we doing to prepare the next generations of leaders to lead in the world that grows ever smaller, more nimble, and at the same time, more connected?  And why don’t we try some of this on now?