Jan 25, 2018

2018 Honors Symposium to Examine Technology’s Impact on Humankind

Flathead Valley Community College’s 2018 Honors Symposium opens February 13 and will feature six Tuesday evening lectures that will address this year’s theme of “Technology and Humankind.”

The Honors Symposium continues a tradition of bringing thoughtful public discussion regarding current hot-topic issues to Northwest Montana. Free and open to the public, all lectures begin at 7 p.m. in the large community room in FVCC’s Arts and Technology building.

“This year’s Honors Symposium will explore technology from various angles to better understand its impacts on nature, the environment, individuals, families and society,” said event organizer Dr. Gerda Reeb, Ph.D.

Dr. Peter Kahn from the University of Washington will kick off the symposium on February 13 with his lecture on “Technological Nature: Adaptation and the Future of Human Life.” Dr. Kahn teaches psychology and science classes at UW and is the director of the Human Interaction with Nature and Technological Systems Lab. His recent research revolves around the digitalization of nature and the creation of humanoid robots that may revolutionize our efficiency and communications, but may also lead to an impoverished and less authentic human experience.

According to Kahn, children are coming of age in an ever-changing technological environment in which artificial systems are being designed to mimic human appearance and behavior. In particular, robots are being designed to communicate with people in a human-like manner. Kahn and his team of researchers believe that the inclusion of human-like robots in the lives of developing children may lead to new outcomes on processes of knowledge construction within the social domains. He will discuss his findings that provide researchers and technology designers with new information about children’s social conceptions of robotic, humanoid technologies.

Subsequent lectures in this year’s Honors Symposium include:

February 20:  “Re-Programming Evolution: The Promise and Perils of Gene Editing” presented by Michael Goguen, technologist, venture capitalist and philanthropist.

February 27:  “The Internet of Things at BNSF Railway” presented by Mike Garcia, Director of Technology Services – Modern BI & Mechanical Systems, Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

March 6: “Technology and China’s Rise to Great Power” presented by Dr. Karen Adams, chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Montana and “Haunted by the Cyber Ghost: National Cybersecurity Policy and Transatlantic Collaboration” presented by Dr. Eva-Maria Maggi, professor at the School of Government and Public Policy at the University of Arizona and at the Department of Political Science at the University of Montana.

March 13: “Cyborg Senses: On the Cusp of a New Era in the Philosophy of Perception” presented by Brian Keeley, philosophy professor at Pitzer College in Claremont, California.

March 20:  “Computers, Automation and the Human Future” presented by Nicholas Carr, journalist, Pulitzer Prize finalist and New York Times bestselling author.

The 2018 Honors Symposium is funded in part by Humanities Montana, the Kalispell branch of the American Association of University Women, FVCC Alumni and Friends, and the Theodore Chase Endowment Fund.

For more information, visit or call Reeb at (406)756-3889.