FACULTY DEVELOPMENT SERIES
REDEEMING TECHNOLOGY

Technology, by its nature, is designed and intended to be used in a particular way.

 

You can use a landmine as a paperweight, but if you do you are using it wrong. The moral questions are simple to see in the case of landmine design, but they are just as real in less-obvious contexts. What, for example, are the moral issues with your mobile phone? What are the ethics of drinks bottles? The social impact of cooking by microwave? The spiritual impact of worshiping by PowerPoint? Dive into this five-part workshop series to explore these questions and more.

Talk 1.1: Can “Stuff” be Morally Good?

Speaker: ​Dr. Mike BROWNNUTT

We are used to the idea that people can be good or bad, but it is less obvious to see how an inanimate object – without desire or volition – can be morally good or bad. This talk therefore considers what it means to redeem, or even need to redeem, a thing. The things people make, from guns to phones to Coke cans, are designed to be used in particular ways. This inbuilt purpose is not value free, and predisposes objects – deliberately or inadvertently – to be used in ways which are morally value-laden: you can use a gun as a paperweight, but you are using it wrong. The engineers and scientists who develop new technologies are in a unique position, and have a unique responsibility, to be aware of the moral dimension of their work. This awareness can open new vistas for research. It enables us to move beyond the usual puzzles of finding how to make something faster, lighter, or cheaper, and ask how to make something which is, morally speaking, good.

Talk 1.2: Overview: Beyond a Utilitarian View of Technology

Speaker: Dr. Wing Tai LEUNG

 

This is an overview of technology beyond the utilitarian view to the philosophical, ethical and theological levels. What do we gain and lose in an invention? Does the form of technology shape human consciousness and culture? Is technology merely a tool or will it rule over humanity? What is the inner logic of technology? Is what can be done what should be done? What about the cases of gene cracking and human cloning? Are there any gender biases in technological development? What are the characteristics of convivial tools? What are the biblical views of technique and technology? What is to be said of either utopian or dystopian visions of a technological future? How, in light of this, can we redeem technology?

This half-day workshop lays the groundwork for a series of workshops bringing technology users and technology creators together to understand and work on the opportunities available in redeeming technology.

2. Principle and Practice
 
Talk 2.0: Discussion of "Things that made More or Less Sense"

Speaker: ​​Dr. Wing Tai LEUNG

Talk 2.1: Searching for Christian Values that could Redeem Technological Systems: Complications, Challenges, Confirmations

Speaker: ​​Prof. Lauren PFISTER

In order to offer Christian ways toward engaging various dimensions of our technologically infused modern environment in A.D. 2017, we must first face some specific conceptual and theoretical complications in the literature related to the philosophy of technology. Following precedents set by Hans Jonas, Lewis Mumford and Jacques Ellul, I will argue that we must reject any reductionistic account of “technology” or technologies that considers them only to be about machinery and our innovative ways of advancing their efficiency. Instead, we must recognize the fundamental transformation of our 21st century forms of life by means of a new kind of technological environment that has created a dynamic system of values shaping, guiding, and changing a vast interconnecting network of technological systems that embraces and restructures us as humans within the various dimensions of our familial, communal, social, national and international experiences.

Talk 2.2: Technology and Human Nature

Speaker: ​​​​Prof John WYATT

Some Christians see use of technology to improve humanity as a form of "co-creation", taking on and enhancing the creative work of God. Others see it as a threat to the goodness of creation and the way in which the original embodied human nature is vindicated and affirmed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. There is no doubt that enhancing technology will become increasingly powerful and widespread in the coming decades and thoughtful responses are urgently needed.

This half-day workshop builds on the groundwork laid in Session 1 to consider how the implications of technology with moral value are worked out in principle and in practice.

3. Business, Propaganda, and Advertising Technology
 
Talk 3.1: The Business of Artificial Intelligence

Speaker: Prof. Keith CHAN

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is concerned with the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that otherwise require human intelligence. These tasks can include visual perception, speech recognition, natural language understanding, learning, planning, reasoning, problem solving, knowledge management and decision making, etc. AI can have many applications in business and finance including, for example, content generation and curation, voice and image search, propensity modeling, ad targeting, dynamic pricing, web personalization, chatbots, opinion analysis, stock analysis, etc. Since AlphaGo’s winning of matches against the world’s top Go players, some believe that advances in AI are already ahead of human intelligence and some tech celebrities have started to talk about AI taking over, not just the jobs, but also the world. Among Christians, there have been talks about what the rise of AI means for Christian theology and if AI poses any challenge to Christianity, etc. In this workshop, I will present an overview of AI and my research related to it. I will explain how my work in Big Data Analytics, Machine Learning, Artificial Neural Network, Evolutionary Computation, Bioinformatics is motivated by my Christian faith and how and why future development in AI should be of concern to Christians.

Talk 3.2: When Fact is Fictional and Truth is Fiction
Speaker: Dr. Melba MAGGAY

There is the myth going around that the world has become a ‘global village.’ As media theorist McLuhan has long ago predicted, each country is now within hearing distance and we are seeing the narrowing of the world into virtual village communities as information technologies advance in their reach and sophistication. This session will examine the truth of this and other global myths that circulate in a social environment that is now mostly technologically-mediated. Discussion will be focused on the impact of communications technologies on social perception and their use as tools for political engagement. Technological determinism, which has now reared its head once again as an issue, will be addressed. Attention will be paid on how biblical perspectives can illuminate the question of media as a human extension, how it heightens the capacity for conjuring fictional worlds, but also how it enlarges the space for creating social imaginaries. We shall also explore together the implications to our own culture-making as media practitioners.

3.3: How Then Shall We Live?

See "Discussion."

This half-day seminar takes the takes the framework built in Session 1, and Session 2, and applies it to business, propaganda, and advertising technology.

Talk 4.1: The Role of Personal Technology in Modern Communications

Speaker: Prof. TSOI Ah Chung

In this talk, we will consider the roles which could affect the ways we communicate with one another. This includes the ways in which a message could be communicated and understood by the recipients, the possible deployment of spoken dialog systems in educational contexts, the ways in which we could persuade another person to accept a point of view. Each of these areas has been impacted by recent advances in technologies, particularly in the areas of text retrieval, spoken dialog systems, machine translation, videos manipulations, and virtual and augmented reality. We will first highlight some of the technical capabilities of these technologies, noting the developments in recent years. We will then give examples of how such technologies could be used in the context of modern communications.

Talk 4.2: Christianity and Technology: The Uneasy Connection

Speaker: Prof. Bob FORTNER

Christians, especially evangelically-minded Christians, have long approached communications technologies from a perspective of mythological expectation. Even the telegraph, as it arrived in one American city after another, was accompanied by Sunday sermons on how it would finally allow the entire world to hear the gospel. We have never let go of that expectation. But technology is a double-edged sword, bringing both benefit and harm in its wake. How is it to be redeemed, then? There are several demands that we must place on ourselves. First is not to get caught up in the technophile-technophobe debate that is promoted by inventors and the media. Second is to dive below the patina that this debate deposits on technological reality and inquire into the underlying logic of each technology. And third is to ask ourselves what the consequences are for faith, identity, and humanity itself when new technologies are widely adopted. Concentrating on these three aspects of technological development will lead, I think, to a more accurate appraisal of technological change and help us anticipate its fundamental demands on human beings.​

This half-day seminar takes the takes the framework built in Session 1, and Session 2, and applies it to personal technoloogy and communication technology.

5. Educational and Religious Technology
 
Talk 5.0: The Autonomous Cars' Ethics

Speaker: Dr. Irene YH FAN

A study on the Decision-Making Mechanism (DMM) of Autonomous Vehicles (AV).

Talk 5.1: Education Technology and Faith—Opportunities and Challenges

Speaker: ​​Prof. Irwin KING

Modern technology has transformed and impacted our society in immeasurable ways. In education, information and related technologies have allowed educators and learners to access knowledge, aid in the learning process, and assess performance in a scalable, dynamic, and systematic manner. However, how do these education technologies influence faith in practice? In this talk, I plan to take a quick look to some of the education technologies available currently and discuss how these technologies may present great opportunities as well as challenges to our faith.
Talk 5.2: Technology, Religiosity and the Changing Face of Humanity

Speaker: Dr. YAM Chi Keung

 
The relationship between technology and its development on the one hand, and religion and civilisation on the other, is often covert but elemental. Technological developments, and the adoption thereof, often shape the course of human cultures and civilisations, including religion, without the conscious awareness on the part of individuals and communities involved. While adoption of newly developed technologies by religious communities is often marked by a lack of critical reflection on any possible long-term consequences, forms of religious lives and the essential nature of religious experience could be reformatted deep down into the bone.

This half-day seminar takes the framework built in earlier sessions (particularly Session 1 and Session 2) and applies it to education and religious technology.

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