A friend invited to me to attend the Australian Information Innovation Awards being held at the Melbourne Convention Centre. It was an inspiring night feeling the energy of so many creative people who have worked to take an idea and make it into something that they believe the world desperately needs.
The line up of finalists was amazing. From the world’s first modular self-fit hearing aid, robots that write their own computer code, to a virtual reality platform for spider phobia. There were inventions for health, business and education: to help people socialise, to help older people maintain their independence, and to detect diseases and injury.
One of the more fascinating categories was for junior and senior school students. The winners of the junior student prize had created the HappyNess App. These young kids from St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Como had identified the increasing stress and anxiety levels among young children. They designed an app for girls aged 7 to 12 to help them return to happiness when life gets stressful. In the senior students category I liked “The Amazing Annoyatron”. The Annoyatron was created by a 14 year old from Wagga Wagga. And introduces kids and teens to electronics and coding. Kids can learn about coding with 20+ cool creations designed to let them prank the family and friends.
Innovation is part of human history -it’s our continual journey to improve our world. We have always had a high regard for inventors and innovators. From the invention of the printing press, mouldboard plough, Sunshine Harvester, internal combustion engine, to aeroplanes. Inventions reveal a lot about imagination, optimism, and the nature of progress. But the focus on information for the iAwards says a lot about how our economy is changing. The Information Age began around the 1970s. This is an era in which people can access information and knowledge easily and we have exceeded our wildest ambitions, many of us have the equivalent of a PC in our pocket and our households are teeming with laptops, tablets, smart phones, and smart refrigerators and media centres.
Smart phones have brought the power of computing well beyond the developed world as well. When I was in the Solomon Islands recently it was apparent that while few people had a car, nearly everyone had a smart phone. Technology is deeply embedded in the fabric of industry, government and society at all levels and in all parts the world. Access to information has driven the interconnectedness of humanity and has lead to greater understanding of our diverse humanity. Yes, there is a lot that can go wrong and there are people who will use inventions for evil purposes, but I am a person of faith. This is God’s world and the world is a profoundly changed place. I think we live in a world where so many things are possible and each day we discover something that was beyond our imagination just yesterday.
As the Apostle Paul put it, “I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
This is the gospel, and it’s good news.
Brian Spencer, Minister