How many times have we heard someone in the tech industry proclaim that their new product is “revolutionary” or “disruptive”? Radical upheaval in the ways we live and communicate is now so frequent that it doesn’t even strike us as unusual. Yet the original iPhone came out only a decade ago, in the same year that Netflix started streaming. Facebook and YouTube came into existence just a few years before that. On the timeline of human history this all happened mere moments ago, and as technology becomes more and more rapidly integrated into our everyday lives, we would do well to take a step back and contemplate exactly what is happening.
The focus of the 2018-19 Technology COMPAS program has been on the many ways in which our lives have been changed by our technological creations. The questions we have addressed over the past year include:
- How have our interpersonal relationships been shaped by new technologies? How has social media impacted the nature of friendship? Are these changes something to be concerned about?
- Does constant access to email and productivity tools actually increase our productivity at work?
- In what ways have parties with access to big data been able to use that to further their political agendas and business strategies? What should privacy look like in an information-driven culture?
- Is it possible for technology to counteract or even reverse climate change? Should there be limits on how we use technology to reshape the natural world?
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