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Tech and Society Week 2024

During the past ten years, more and more events occurred that demonstrated that people’s reactions to social media and other new technology were evolving as the technology evolved. Concerns about perceived violation of individual privacy increased. The perceptions were growing that algorithmic intrusions into day-to-day activities were undesirable. The increased efficiency of online shopping also had downsides. The promise of artificial intelligence spurred both aspirations of increased quality of life and fears of a diminished humanity.

Many of the issues appeared to be the indirect effect of technological changes occurring at a rate much faster than the society could absorb. Norms of behavior on the internet were slower to develop relative to how the platforms themselves were changing. Regulations from government were slow to develop, and there was a pervasive lack of understanding of the design and operations of large information platforms.

Georgetown is an institution with a very explicit mission of using research and scholarship in service to the betterment of the world. Its undergraduate and graduate programs rest on the conviction that a university can effect long term, permanent change by shaping the next generation of leaders.

The mismatch between the rate of change of norms, behaviors, regulations, and laws, on one hand, and the rate of change of technology, on the other, seem a perfect opportunity for Georgetown to help build a bridge between research and action.

It became clear that the impact Georgetown could have in this domain could be enhanced if the diverse faculty and programs studying the impacts of technology on society (and vice versa) could be gathered together. From this idea the Tech and Society emerged.

Tech and Society is a network of Centers and Institutes: Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation, Center for Digital Ethics, Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Center on Privacy and Technology, Knight-Georgetown Institute, Institute for Technology Law and Policy, and Massive Data Institute. These are connected to educational units such as the Computer Science Department, Ethics Lab, and the Communication, Culture, and Technology Program.

This week is Tech and Society Week (hyperlink to the schedule) with an extravaganza of convenings, lectures, panels, and interactive sessions that bring together both Tech and Society students and faculty, others working in the field from other units, and the curious who want to learn more.

Every day of this week there are multiple events open to the Georgetown community and the larger public. Students can meet the faculty of our new Tech, Ethics, and Society interdisciplinary program. There are book talks from authors of new publications tackling issues of how human behavior can optimally use internet innovation and what regulatory frameworks are emerging over new technologies. There are many sessions on artificial intelligence, from discerning “deep fakes,” to how AI influences workplace surveillance, to how governments are coping with acquiring staff talent in AI, to how AI is affecting the nature of deceptive content on the internet, to how lawyers and university instructors might use AI in day-to-day practice. There will be meetings for the Women Coders group, a conference for the Fritz Fellow student group, with returning alumni of the fellowship. There is a celebratory panel for the 10th anniversary of the Beeck Center for Impact and Innovation.

All in all, it’s an opportunity to gather all in the Georgetown community to learn and discuss the all-encompassing impact of technology on all of our lives.

One thought on “Tech and Society Week 2024

  1. Important topic and discussion. I remember taking a sociology course in the sixties . The prof talked of the idea of cultural lag. Ie there would be a massive explosion of technology , but the cultural changes would not be able to develope fast enough for good adaptation of our society causing great disconnect and dissonance. Boy was he right. We have a lot of work to do to catch up culture with technology and I hope GU leads the way ! .

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