Monday, January 16, 2012
This morning’s keynote speaker is Vennkatesh Narayanamurti (who told us we could refer to him as “Venky”), the Benjamin Pierce Professor of Technology and Public Policy, a Professor of Physics as well as the Director of Science, Technology and Public Policy Program at the Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School.
Presenting today on “Technology and Society,” as a part of our lecture series for this year’s conference which focuses on Technology and Social Justice, Professor Venky made a 40 minute presentation on issues he found really key as well as answered questions from our HCAP staff and delegates.
Drawing upon the social media used in the Arab Spring, the nuclear energy problem from Fukushima, the Durban Conference on climate change, his own experiences with technology (going from 4 hour calls to India when he first came to the States to “lightening speed” Skype and phone calls today), and fun current innovation like IBM’s Watson and Apple’s SIRI, Professor Venky demonstrated to us what the progress in technology has occurred and what the future holds for us, as students and innovators. Some key places he found very important for the next couple decades was 1) energy & sustainability, 2) global health & infectious diseases, 3) poverty and hunger (food security), and 4) economic and social development and prosperity.
Here are some soundbites from his presentation:
“As our world grows and technology improves, it is incredibly key to become a global citizen. We have a global responsibility towards the future.”
“It is our values, not the technology that makes for good or evil” – (can’t find exact quote, but roughly…) Hilary Clinton on Internet Freedom at GWU
“Technology alone is not enough,” said Mr Jobs at the end of his speech introducing the iPad 2, in March 2011. “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.”
“Engineers must understand how things work and how the world works and social scientists must not only understand how the world works, but also how the things work.” – Professor Venky
“Creativity becomes invention, which becomes innovation. Innovation is the nirvana that we all seek – for our idea to have a global, social impact.” – Professor Venky
“We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of preeminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war.” September 12, 1962 – John F. Kennedy
Abraham Lincoln, in the middle of the Civil War, championed the creation of the National Academy of Sciences, refusing to accept that mere survival was the nation’s primary goal. He said we must add “the fuel of interest to the fire of genius in the discovery and production of new and useful things.” He went on to found the land grant college system and began the work on the transcontinental railroad.
“What can students do in this day and age? You must have fire in your belly. You must be exposed to many things and find what turns you on. You’re curious. Do something hard. Climb another mountain. Explore explore explore.”
“Technology and values are interactive- some values impact the growth of technology and some technology can influence our value systems.”
“We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late.” -Martin Luther King Jr.