This course consisted of eight online lectures of 2 – 3 hours each in duration, covering topics such as AI, social media algorithms, security, VR, and futurism. Personally, I used to be into futurism and new technologies, but over time I lost hope for the future as disasters like climate change become worse. But it’s important to remember that technology is still developing and that we are on the cusp of some revolutionary shifts.
One of the ideas stressed by many of the speakers was the idea of exponential growth – to model both technological innovation and spread of ideas in an online space. One of the things I appreciated was how these technologies were shown to be important to everyday life; previously when I heard about stuff like AI or transhumanism, they sounded very far-flung and not worthy of discussion outside of hypothetical situations. Listening to speakers who specialise in these areas, as well as the question and answer segments, showed me that these are quickly growing areas that will soon pervade our society.
Ethics was also a prevalent topic for discussion – including ownership of data, disinformation, political propaganda, and personhood. Understanding how social media operates and how it can manipulate you is very important for today’s society – where targeted advertising can bit by bit change people’s opinions and have real world effects. I try to avoid algorithmic social medias, and learning more about this only made me more determined to protect myself from them. I signed up for this course because I am a content creator on social media and wanted to understand how to manage my use of it more efficiently.
My one big takeaway was how much of a problem disinformation is – and how vulnerable I might be to it when it is framed as aligning with my political opinions or coming from a content creator or community I enjoy. I am definitely taking this on board going forward. Something I found very interesting was the exploration of how more futuristic sounding technologies would change humanity’s very identity, with topics such as postgenderism, posthumanism and cyborgism being explored. The rules and regulations, as well as its overall accountability to the public, surrounding the technologies of today will surely influence how we grow and develop in the future. Understanding how humanity may change long-term can help us figure out which direction we want to go in, and how we can get there starting today.