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Surprising Science

What Is Humanizing Technology?

Big Think is excited to announce Humanizing Technology, a virtual expo in partnership with Bing, whose goal is to identify new technologies that integrate themselves seamlessly into our lives, capitalize on our unique strengths, and amplify the best of human nature.    

We have all experienced “dehumanizing” technology – software or hardware that seems to diminish our ability to communicate with others or to function effectively in the world. Technology that creates new boundaries between people rather than erasing old ones. 

With this in mind, Big Think is excited to announce Humanizing Technology, a virtual expo in partnership with Bing. The goal of Humanizing Technology – which will culminate in June, 2012 with a live event and prize ceremony in New York City – is to identify new technologies that integrate themselves seamlessly into our lives, capitalize on our unique strengths, and amplify the best of human nature.  

In accordance with psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, we believe that humanizing technologies are those that meet one of three core human needs: 

  • Safety and Security
  • Human Relationships
  • Personal Growth 

In addition, new technologies nominated for the Humanizing Technology Prize must demonstrate significant, unique potential for improving our lives, individually and collectively. 

The 10 week virtual expo on Big Think will present the contest nominees, gather submissions from you, our readers, and feature video interviews with leading technologists, ethicists, entrepreneurs, and artists who are passionately engaged in the evolving relationship between man and machine. Our extraordinary lineup of experts and contest judges includes Peter Diamandis, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Jeff Jarvis, Sonia Arrison, and many more. Among them:  

Clay Johnson, Author of The Information Diet: 

These are the tools that you use in order to get the word out and I think these tools are empowering people like to me to stay closer to my family.  They’re empowering people in Egypt to help make revolutions happen and help organization better.  They’re empowering millions of people to seek better justice and I think that’s vital, this idea that we can form communities out of thin air.

Paul Root Wolpe, Senior Bioethicist, Emory University: 

…Eventually the conversations around these technologies will reach an equilibrium and we will understand as a society how to use them responsibly.  But both, again, both extremes of this problem; ban everything or just let everybody buy everything over the counter and take it, both extremes are irresponsible.

Jonathan Harris, Artist and Creator of Cowbird, an alternative social network: 

I think the more interesting thing that’s happening is we’re evolving into a kind of meta organism, which is the whole species on the planet connected through the Web, sharing information, sharing thoughts, sharing ideas.  But more interesting than those things is also sharing empathy and sharing emotions.

From life-saving apps to cutting-edge military defense, Humanizing Technology will explore and expand the boundaries of what it means to be human, today and far into the future. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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