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Community Connections to tackle technology, the workplace and the future

The next Community Connections discussion will take place on Monday, Oct. 23, from 7 to 8:15 p.m. in the Lakeside meeting rooms. 

The community is invited to join in a conversation on Oct. 23 in the Lakeside meeting rooms about how artificial intelligence, automation and robots are influencing how we work and live. 

The discussion is the first Community Connections event of the fall and is hosted by Elon's Council on Civic Engagement and the Burlington-Times News. The Community Connections series seeks to bring members of the broader community together to consider and discuss a wide range of topics impacting daily life and the world.

The implications of advancing technology and artificial intelligence are profound and thought-provoking, said Tom Arcaro, professor of sociology at Elon and an organizer of the Community Connections forums during the past five years.

“Human consciousness is absolutely one of the most complex and even mysterious topics that anyone can address. That we are creating technology that can begin to mimic this complexity is both incredible and exciting,” Arcaro said. “But it is also frightening to consider the possibility where a new form of consciousness can be created. I am reminded of the E.O. Wilson quote where he says ‘the biggest challenge we face is that we have Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions, and Godlike technology.’ The question is, what will we do with that Godlike technology?”

With a focus on how technology is creating a new American workplace and workforce, the discussion will delve into areas that were once thought to be the stuff of science fiction, with people being replaced by computers in many areas of daily life. 

At the 12th annual Economic Summit hosted this week at Elon’s Koury Business Center for the Alamance County Area Chamber of Commerce, training the future labor force to face workplace challenges posed by new technologies and automation was identified as a significant issue that must be addressed.

Monday’s Community Connections panelists will address these and other issues related to artificial intelligence. The panelists include:

  • Roland Roberts, Mechatronics Engineering Technology, Alamance Community College
  • Drew Simshaw, Legal Method and Communication Fellow at the Elon University School of Law

An additional panelist could still be added. Tony Crider, associate professor of physics, will introduce the topic and William Moner, assistant professor of communications, will moderate the discussion.

The event will begin at 7 p.m. in the Lakeside meeting rooms, and refreshments will follow the panel.

Owen Covington,
10/13/2017 9:55 AM