Tomorrow's Troubles

Tomorrow's Troubles

Risk, Anxiety, and Prudence in an Age of Algorithmic Governance

Paul Scherz


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The first examination of predictive technology from the perspective of Catholic theology

Probabilistic predictions of future risk govern much of society. In business and politics alike, institutional structures manage risk by controlling the behavior of consumers and citizens. New technologies comb through past data to predict and shape future action. Choosing between possible future paths can cause anxiety as every decision becomes a calculation to achieve the most optimal outcome.

Tomorrow’s Troubles is the first book to use virtue ethics to analyze these pressing issues. Paul Scherz uses a theological analysis of risk and practical reason to show how risk-based decision theory reorients our relationships to the future through knowledge of possible dangers and foregone opportunities—and fosters a deceptive hope for total security. Scherz presents this view of temporality as problematic because it encourages a desire for stability through one’s own efforts instead of reliance on God. He also argues that the largest problem with predictive models is that they do not address individual reason and free will. Instead of dwelling on a future, we cannot control, we can use our past experiences and the Christian tradition to focus on discerning God’s will in the present.

Tomorrow’s Troubles offers a thoughtful new framework that will help Christians benefit from the positive aspects of predictive technologies while recognizing God’s role in our lives and our futures.


Paul Scherz:

Paul Scherz is an associate professor of moral theology and ethics in the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America. He is the author of Science and Christian Ethics. He has a PhD in theology from the University of Notre Dame and a PhD in genetics from Harvard University.