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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

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Ontario Tech University sharpens its focus on ‘technology with a conscience’

May 2 Futures Forum explored the complex intersection of human experience and tech innovation

Bill Buxton, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research, speaking at Ontario Tech University's 2019 Futures Forum on the Future of Tech with a Conscience (May 2, 2019).
Bill Buxton, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research, speaking at Ontario Tech University's 2019 Futures Forum on the Future of Tech with a Conscience (May 2, 2019).

“Every technological decision is an ethical decision.”
-Bill Buxton, keynote speaker, 2019 Futures Forum at Ontario Tech University

In almost every facet of our daily lives, humans interact with technology. These interactions often lead to greater productivity and an enhanced quality of life, whether at work or during our personal time. But our immersion in, and fascination with, technology can also distract, frustrate, and even harm us.

What does it mean to develop technology with a conscience? What are our obligations to using technology responsibly? How can we improve the designs of new technological innovations while carefully considering their societal impact? 

On May 2, leading experts explored these questions and more during Ontario Tech University’s 2019 Futures Forum: ‘The Future of Tech with a Conscience’.

Primary themes in panel discussions included:

Highlighting the 2019 Futures Forum was keynote speaker Bill Buxton, noted technology theorist, designer and Principal Researcher at Microsoft (time code 3:41 to 1:08:27). Buxton has had a pioneering role in the development of a wide variety of interactive technologies during his career. His thought-provoking address challenged the Futures Forum audience to consider American historian Melvin Kranzberg’s (1917-1995) First Law of Technology that “technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.”

Buxton says while humans are often blind to the impact of technological change because the increments are so rapid, we remain obligated to consider tech evolution through the lens of a moral compass.

Buxton, a recipient of the Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI) Lifetime Achievement Award, argues that when it comes to technology, problem setting is more important than problem solving. He says that while technology affords society the capacity to do almost anything, the biggest question is not “What could we do?” but rather, “What should we do?”