Values, Human Identity and Technology: An Interdisciplinary Discussion (All Students)

Hosted by: The Media and Graphics Interdisciplinary Centre, the iSchool@UBC and Colloquium

February 6th, 2013 5:30-7pm.
Location: Forestry Sciences Building, Room 1005
Please RSVP to

Digital media technologies are opening a world of possibilities in communications, in the economy and in personal relations. These technologies allow us to communicate and process information with unparalleled ease, and to spread ideas, learn, offer help, resolve problems, connect with people, and develop new businesses in unprecedented ways.  The changes coming in the next 10 to 20 years in the further development of ubiquitous technologies, augmented and virtual reality, persuasive technologies, mobile technologies, and cognitive systems, to name but a few, will transform how we live, work and learn, just as programmable computing did previously. As positive as the possibilities afforded by these technologies are, many have growing concerns about the velocity of change and our ability to properly adapt to it; about potential threats to privacy and security; and about increasing risks of social isolation, technology addiction, and mental health risks.   These concerns raise important philosophical and practical questions, such as: what does it mean to be human in the digital era?  What is human identity and how do these technologies contribute to its formation? If human identity is linked to the preservation of individual and collective memory, how can we preserve it in the context of these new technologies? What values are being, and should be, designed into technology and how transparent should these values be to users of the technology? Where does intentionality reside when cognition is distributed between human and machine? Should individuals have the right to control their own data? Should they have the right to be forgotten?  Is privacy necessary and, if so, how do we protect it?    How are these technologies affecting the rhythms of rest, silence and reflection which are necessary for healthy human development? Can we trust these technologies?  How can we, and who can we, hold to account when harm is caused in using these technologies? Given the transformations that we are already seeing in society in the digital era and the further transformations we can expect, the challenge is urgent to provoke thinking and interdisciplinary dialogue on the theme of values, human identity and technology.

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