Colloquium: Kentaro Toyama to give talk titled, ‘Geek Heresy’

toyamaJoin us as Kentaro Toyama, of University of Michigan School of Information, delivers a colloquium about how digital technologies have affected (or failed to improve) civic engagement. All are welcome; details below.

WHEN: Friday, October 23 from 2:30 to 4 p.m.
Communication room 126

SYNOPSIS: Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology

Over the last four decades, the United States saw an explosion of digital technologies that penetrated every corner of the country; yet during the same time span, the American rate of poverty didn’t decrease, inequality skyrocketed, and the country became more politically polarized than ever. In other words, a golden age of innovation didn’t lead to improved civic engagement or better lives for poor people living in the world’s most technologically advanced country. This simple fact – which flies in the face of Silicon Valley triumphalism – should give pause to efforts to tech-centric efforts to cause social change.

Based on a recent book with the same title, this talk draws lessons from over a decade of research with information and communication technologies (ICT) in education, politics, and international development and describes technology’s Law of Amplification. Amplification explains why technology’s immense power routinely fails to cause the social progress it promises, and why in an age of abundant technology, foundational human development matters all the more.

BIO: Kentaro Toyama is W.K. Kellogg Associate Professor at the University of Michigan School of Information and a fellow of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT. Until 2009, Toyama was assistant managing director of Microsoft Research India, which he co-founded in 2005. At MSR India, he started the Technology for Emerging Markets research group, which conducts interdisciplinary research to understand how the world’s poorest communities interact with electronic technology and to invent new ways for technology to support their socio-economic development. Prior to his time in India, Toyama did computer vision and machine learning research and taught mathematics at Ashesi University in Accra, Ghana. Toyama graduated from Yale with a PhD in Computer Science and from Harvard with a bachelor’s degree in Physics.

Department of CommunicationColloquium: Kentaro Toyama to give talk titled, ‘Geek Heresy’
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