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Workshop in Paris

Faculty co-organizes brainstorming workshop on Digital Transformations in Paris
Workshop in Paris

Simon DeDeo (SFI, Carnegie Mellon), Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon (UPenn), Seth Frey (UCD), Martin Hilbert (UCD)

Faculty from our Department co-organized a brainstorming workshop called "SHAPING OUR MAJOR TRANSITIONS" in the heart of Paris (July 28-30, 2017). The goal was to develop a research agenda around the ongoing digital societal transformations. Participants included computational social scientists, educators, and evolutionary theorists, especially experts in the theory of "The Major Transitions in Evolution". The workshop theme was inspired by research co-authored by UCD's Prof. Hilbert: "Information in the Biosphere: Biological and Digital Worlds" (Trends in Ecology & Evolution)

The workshop was hosted by the Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI), which is developing an open, collaborative research program to tackle the world’s challenges, focusing on bridging foundational research and societal impact: from tracing past major transitions to understanding and shaping current digital transition (https://cri-paris.org) . The Workshop brought together an eclectic mix of 20 eminent thinkers from the U.S., New Zealand and Europe, that discussed the current challenges posed by the current digital transition of society, and aim at charting the way forward.


More,here: https://cri-paris.org/research/shaping-our-major-transition/ + Some Background:

We are living through a major transition. The ongoing merger of humanity and its digital technologies has been compared to previous major transitions in the evolution of biological information processing (RNA, DNA, natural language, etc.), and might be just as transformative. The consequences of this ongoing revolution are already felt throughout society, reaching from transformations in the labor market, over cultural codes of conduct, to education and political governance. In many aspects, society finds itself at a crossroads. The resulting uncertainty has led to fear, mistrust, polarization, and tension in local, national and global publics. Last but not least, this is reflected in democratic election results throughout the world. Rejecting the erroneous notion of technological determinism, this Workshop proposes to look for innovative solutions that constructively shape this ongoing major transition. We shape our technological future just as much as it shapes us.

We started the workshop by identifying the most important drivers of this current major transition. 

- Do we know enough about them? What don’t we understand? Are we focusing on merely the symptoms, or have we identified the true causes of social tension, discontent, and global instability? Are there aspects that we underestimate?

We then went on to ask about the current level of response .

- How prepared are we? Are current challenges rather due to the fact that humanity is not (yet) willing to embrace available solutions in practice, or due to the inexistence of theoretical solutions? What are the roadblocks that do not allow us to get to practical solutions? How do we safeguard against risks and harness the potential at the same time? Are currently applied scientific methods up to the the challenge of providing useful guidance to quickly evolving social systems?

The beginning and the end of the workshop was dedicated to out-of-the-box ways forward .

- What education do people actually need? What about the division of labor between humans and machines? How do preferences get translated into political and economic outcomes? What would be the best way to set up democratic governance system in a global, digital future? How to organize efficient economic market mechanisms and social protections in the ongoing major transition?

The outcome of the workshop was twofold. On the one hand, we developed a concrete and written roadmap for research projects that would be the most effective way of moving our understanding forward. On the other hand, we hope that these reflections gave all of us the opportunity to take a critical look at our own work and contributions. We constantly asked ourselves: if I would have the luxury of adjusting and refinancing a significant part of your current research agenda to work on a new question of very urgent, practical, and current social importance (no strings attached): what would it be?