The 21st Century Digital World: Impacts and Opportunities

About the theme

Digital technology has transformed the way we work and play. Technological innovation improves modern living for many and provides access to opportunities unprecedented in human history. But progress and innovation often come with a price. Friends that have lost touch or live many miles apart may easily connect and share information through social media platforms like Facebook. Yet this mirage of intimacy constructs a false sense of social connection and the safe distance of virtual friendships sometimes pave the way for misunderstandings, sexting, or cyber bullying. The Internet and the Cloud allow one to access vast resources of knowledge and data with the press of a button. But is this knowledge reliable? Verifiable? Or does it provide an illusion of truth?

 

Medical specialists can test for disease and share information to better determine a diagnosis. But these advances cost money and contribute pressure to a health care system that is already under stress. Homeland Security tracks travel behavior to keep us safe. Yet those whose names are similar to suspected criminals may suffer unwarranted scrutiny when the security system continually flags them as suspicious. Robots provide comfort for the elderly and perform tasks that are unsafe for humans. But they also eliminate jobs. We can shop online from the convenience of our home, but in doing so we may risk identify theft.

 

Can we afford the price of progress?

Technological advances provide resources that create unparalleled comfort and opportunity. But they also present obstacles that require consideration, negotiation and attention. How can we take advantage of all that technology offers without losing the interpersonal connection? How can we celebrate the possibilities technology provides while gracefully mitigating the price of progress?

 

When is the 2019 Public Affairs Conference?  

The Public Affair Conference will be held October 1-3 on the campus of Missouri State University. Join the dialog as we explore our digital world and its impacts and opportunities on our society.  

 

2019-2020 Provost Fellow for Public Affairs

Dr. Paul Durham