Just To Keep You Thinking

“There is no more powerful force to change every institution than the first generation of digital natives. The world, including business, will hinge on a new set of principles” Don Tapscott

“The internet as a noun has become the internet as a verb. It has become a set of conversations. An era in which user-generated content and social networks became the dominant phenomenon” Philip Evans

“The self as we once knew it no longer exists, and I think that an abstract, digital universe has become part of our identity” Abha Dawesar

 

“Technology is the seventh kingdom of life. And we have a moral obligation to invent technology so that every person on the globe has the potential to realize their true difference” Kevin Kelly

“If you don’t treat humans as special, if you don’t create some special zones for humans – especially when you are designing [or integrating] technology – you’ll end up dehumanizing the world. And what we have done in the last decade is give information [and data] more rights than are given to people” Jaron Lanier

“The greatest task before civilisation at present is to make machines what they ought to be, the slaves, instead of the masters of men” Havelock Elis

1220HSL | Lectures I
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The first component of this course focuses on how the advent and offering up of the Internet for mass public consumption has forever altered the way humanity and business function. It is a chance to think critically about and discuss technology and its impact on society and business. A topic always open for debate. And this is also a chance for you to develop a personalized – well read and well thought out – standpoint on whether technology is an inherent component of human evolution, a slippery slope toward humanity’s ubiquitous subservience to giant computers, or something in between. The choice is yours. And nothing is off limits here.

LECTURE ONE – WHAT IS TECHNOLOGY’S STORY?

I thought this was a pretty interesting way to start you thinking about technology and its impact on humanity and business. It is a lecture delivered by Kevin Kelly titled, ‘Technology’s Epic Story’. In terms of theory and philosophy, this lecture will provide you with an interesting insight into technology on a broader scale (an angle which you may not have considered before), and hopefully open your eyes to, put quite simply, possibility.

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LECTURE TWO – IS TRADITIONAL BUSINESS DEAD?

At the end of lecture one I left you with this question, ‘Could you give me a decent academic argument for how internet-based technological convergence has forever changed business?’. And I pointed you towards two influential figures – Philip Evans and Don Tapscott. Your role for this week is to check out two short TED Talk presentations from Evans and Tapscott – both put technology’s impact on business at the forefront – and begin to craft your own opinion on them.

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CAN TECHNOLOGY SAVE US?

In certain contexts, Evans and Tapscott paint a fairly idealistic way of doing business. I want you to now begin questioning the concept of technological utopia. Where do you think the real digital revolution lies? And what might it look like? Alessandro Acquisti’s focus on privacy, “What will a future without secrets look like?” is one area to consider; however it is not the only one. We often believe that technology will fix all of our problems. Does it really have the capacity to save us at all?

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HAVE WE LOST OURSELVES TO TECHNOLOGY?

“The self as we once knew it no longer exists” (Abha Dawesar, 2013). I want you to begin considering what it means to be human. If you believe we are special. And if so how. What exactly does Dawesar believe has happened to our sense of self? There is a strong argument that technology has changed us. There is also a strong argument that technology is reducing us. And dehumanizing us. Is it the technological platforms and systems themselves that are doing this or is it how we interact with them?

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IS THIS EVOLUTION OR ILLUSION?

We ended last week with this from Havelock Ellis, “The greatest task before civilisation at present is to make machines what they ought to be, the slaves, instead of the masters of men”. Has technology already become an existential threat? Do we have “a moral obligation to invent new technology” (Kelly, 2005) or “create a special zone for humans” (Lanier, 2013). Is technology “an inherent component of our evolution” (Kelly, 2005) or “an illusion that will cheat of us …” (Nin, in Popova, 2013). Will it replace us? Remove us all together? Where do you stand guys?

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Our job is to make you think guys. Who are you and where do you stand – where does the truth lie for you?