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Technology and Human Flourishing


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2012 Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture
Thursday, October 25-Saturday, October 27

Program Description

Technology changes us—and the world around us—in countless ways. It eases our labor, cures diseases, provides abundant food and clean water, enables communication and travel across the globe, and expands our knowledge of the natural world and the cosmos. The stuff of science fiction is now, in many cases, reality, and it can make our lives longer, healthier, and more productive than ever.

But technological advance is not without complication, and even ardent proponents of technology recognize that our present age of innovation is fraught with concern for unintended consequences.

Technology that eases our labor, for example, can detach us from a meaningful sense of work. What can cure disease also can encourage us to view the human body as something to be engineered, modified, and immortalized. Techniques that produce more food from less land can have ruinous, long-term effects on the environment. Likewise, even as technology makes possible instant communication with others around the world, it often creates distance between ourselves and people near to us; while it enables unprecedented mobility, it can undermine the stability necessary for families and communities to thrive. And as technology provides ever increasing knowledge, we quite reasonably wonder whether such knowledge is being used to bring about a wiser, more just world.

The 2012 Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture invites reflection about technology and how it contributes to and, at times, compromises human flourishing. How should we understand and evaluate both the promise and peril of the things we create? What implications arise for our understanding of what it means to be human and live well? How might theological considerations—in particular Christian convictions about the things we make and how we use them—illuminate our understanding of technology?

Featured speakers:

  • Patrick Deneen, David A. Potenziani Memorial Associate Professor of Constitutional Studies, University of Notre Dame
  • Ian H. Hutchinson, Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Peter Kilpatrick, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Dean of the College of Engineering, University of Notre Dame
  • Nancey Murphy, Professor of Christian Philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary
  • Rosalind Picard, Professor of Media Arts and Sciences and Director, Affective Computing Research Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • R. R. Reno, editor-in-chief of First Things