ONE of the consequences of my ministry is that I spend a significant amount of time driving.

A bonus is that it affords me the chance to listen to the radio.

Although it's many years since I did any serious science I do like to listen to programmes related to science and technology and the way it is changing our lives.

Driving gives me the chance.

Among the topics recently aired was that of combating serious diseases and the secrets being unlocked by research using a humble transparent microscopic worm called a nematode.

Another was the way robotics and artificial intelligence machines may well become employees, doing work and being taxed.

Of the first and of interest, to me at least, is that the nematode was one of the first creatures to have its genetic code mapped.

This humble creature is increasingly releasing its secrets which are, in turn, helping scientists gain insights into ageing, obesity and autoimmune diseases.

Certain drug treatments on the worms have even caused them to regenerate rather than die. It is not quite the secret of eternal youth but may lead to the possibility of people living well beyond 100.

Artificial intelligence is another sphere that is making massive strides.

Machines that learn, assess and take appropriate action are on the horizon if not already here in some forms.

Taxing machines that do productive work as if they were persons employed would be a significant social change.

What this points to is the very real possibility that in the near future we will live considerably longer and that machines, who pay taxes, may well be used increasingly to do work previously undertaken by people.

How economies would operate in such circumstances is probably uncharted territory.

Would such changes make our lives better or worse? To my mind there is not one answer.

Much would depend on which values we adopt and allow to shape our choices.

The extremes of a Darwinian survival of the fittest or a deliberate philanthropy by those with wealth are both possible, as is some unsatisfactory compromise.

Change is guaranteed, kindness, compassion and love are ours to choose.