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CBC Radio Show Ideas Broadcasts the 4th Waterloo Symposium on Technology & Society

Updated: Feb 22

On December 10, 2019 the Centre for Security Governance (CSG) hosted the fourth Waterloo Symposium on Technology & Society. The symposium series seeks to promote public discourse in Canada and beyond on the societal challenges and opportunities created by innovations in four primary areas: artificial intelligence, robotics, big data and social media. This instalment of the series featured a keynote speech by Douglas Rushkoff titled “Team Human: It’s Time to Remake Society Together as the Team We Are.” Named one of the “world’s ten most influential intellectuals” by MIT, Rushkoff is an author and documentarian who studies human autonomy in a digital age. His twenty books include the just-published Team Human, based on his podcast, as well as the bestsellers Present Shock, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, Program or Be Programmed, Life Inc, and Media Virus. He also made the PBS Frontline documentaries Generation Like, The Persuaders, and Merchants of Cool. His book Coercion won the Marshall McLuhan Award, and the Media Ecology Association honored him with the first Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity.

Photo: Douglas Rushkoff delivering his lecture for the 4th Waterloo Symposium on Technology & Society

To Douglas Rushkoff, Team Human is a manifesto — a fiery distillation of his most urgent thoughts on civilization and human nature. In his talk, drawn from his book of the same name, Rushkoff argues that we are essentially social creatures, and that we achieve our greatest aspirations when we work together — not as individuals. Yet today society is threatened by a vast antihuman infrastructure that undermines our ability to connect. Money, once a means of exchange, is now a means of exploitation; education, conceived as a way to elevate the working class, has become another assembly line; and the Internet has only further divided us into increasingly atomized and radicalized groups. This talk is Rushkoff’s impassioned call to arms — to recognize that being human is a team sport. In Rushkoff’s own words: “Being social may be the whole point.” Harnessing wide-ranging research on human evolution, biology, and psychology, Rushkoff showed that when we work together, we realize greater happiness, productivity, and peace. If we can understand this fundamental truth and reassert our humanity —together — we can make the world a better place to be human.

Photo: The panel discussion following the 4th Waterloo Symposium on Technology & Society featuring (from left to right) Sara Bannerman, Marcel O'Gorman, Douglas Rushkoff, Kevin Chan, and Nahlah Ayed.

Following the keynote, there was a vibrant panel discussion featuring Douglas Rushkoff, Sara Bannerman (McMaster University), Kevin Chan (Facebook Canada) and Marcel O’Gorman (University of Waterloo) with moderation from Nahlah Ayed (CBC), award winning journalist and host of the long-running CBC Radio show IDEAS. A recording of the episode was featured in the December 19th episode of IDEAS on CBC Radio One.

Photo: CSG Executive Director Mark Sedra delivering closing remarks at the 4th Waterloo Symposium on Technology & Society.

IDEAS is a deep-dive into contemporary thought and intellectual history. Anchored in a powerful legacy and expansive archive spanning over five decades, its topics are boundless. The nature of consciousness. The history of toilets. The roots and rise of authoritarianism. Near death experiences. No idea is off-limits. Each episode cracks open a concept to see how it's played out over place and time — and uncovers why it still matters today. Launched in 1965 as "The Best Ideas You'll Hear Tonight" — and soon shortened to its present name — IDEAS features documentaries, illustrated interviews, and panel discussions which have earned it a raft of international and national awards and distinctions.

This edition of the Waterloo Symposium on Technology & Society was made possible by a generous grant from Exel Research, a Waterloo-based firm that carries out business in three areas: it invests in small high-tech start-up companies, it manages investment portfolios, and it oversees vacation and commercial rental properties. The event as held at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada.



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