We will consider how technology affects society, and perhaps even defines the times we live in. Do you ever feel that technology is out of control, a force with a mind and will of its own? What causes this, and what are the consequences? We will focus our conversation on the following:
1. Are you a technophobe, or technophile? Why? How has technology affected your job, your personal life, health, leisure time? Is it making your life better, or worse? Does technology create jobs, or destroy them? What other impacts on society concern you?
2. Will the Internet unite humans in a global village, or isolate us? On Twitter, Facebook, et al., do you find people of diverse opinions, or are we inevitably drawn to chatrooms populated by people just like ourselves? Does our very freedom to choose what we read and learn lead to simply confirming our current beliefs?
3. What are the dangers of rapid technological change? Will we unleash something that destroys us? Will hackers cause such chaos (ID theft, falsifying records, stealing money, etc.) that we abandon the Internet? What about the government-- does surveillance make us safer, or does the government know too much already? What can citizens do?
4. What will technology look like in the distant future? Will designer genomes eliminate disease? Will human genetic diversity be eliminated? (In the future, perhaps everyone is blonde and tall..) Will microbots in our bodies make us immortal? Will mind and machine merge into a new form of consciousness, giving humans unimagined mental powers and creativity?
About the Moderator: Laurence Mailaender works in the technology industry, doing research aimed at improving wireless systems. He has a PhD in Electrical Engineering, and spent 12 years as a researcher in Bell Labs. Currently he develops advanced communication and GPS-geolocation systems for customers in various agencies of the U.S. Government.