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The Digital Dilemma in the Time of COVID

December 8, 2020 - 2:00pm to 3:15pm
Live online webcast

This is episode 11 in the CASBS series Social Science for a World in Crisis. Learn more about the series here.Stanford's Human Screenome Project is a co-sponsor of this event.Panelists: Nilam Ram (Stanford), Byron Reeves (Stanford), Abby Smith Rumsey (CASBS board of directors), Maryanne Wolf (CASBS board of directors, UCLA).Moderator: John Markoff (Stanford)Digital technologies present a dilemma. They have become indispensable for learning skills, building knowledge, working, playing, and socially connecting. The COVID pandemic has accelerated our reliance on them but also highlighted problems that extend beyond persistent disparities related to access and algorithmic bias. There is mounting concern that these technologies, and the screens on which they display, may be changing our brain circuitry, eroding our deep reading abilities, memory, and comprehension, with implications for our physical and mental health, education, relationships, and even the polity. A digital culture of constant skimming, scrolling, and scattered attention degrades our ability to connect foundational knowledge to new information, make analogies, draw inferences, and reflect. It affects our ability to empathize, critically analyze, examine truth value, and resist the impacts of fake news and demagoguery on democratic society. Does our experience in the digital world represent a difference in degree or kind compared with previous technological shifts? What can we learn from new techniques that measure refined increments of our physiological and psychological states and the sociological dynamics of our lives as they play out on digital screens? Just how should we raise young learners today? Join Nilam Ram, Byron Reeves, Abby Smith Rumsey, and Maryanne Wolf in conversation with John Markoff as they explore the profound implications of digital technologies for influencing the intellectual, social, emotional, and ethical development of younger generations and, potentially, the cerebral evolution of our species.

Event Sponsor: 
Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University in partnership with Bloomberg Beta, the Council for Library and Information Resources, and The Human Screenome Project at Stanford University
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 
650 736-0100