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Do the next billion users need more innovation? Rethinking technology for the common good

Higher seminar in Media and Communication Studies with Payal Arora.

The 21st century is marketed as the age of innovation. Sir John Chisholm, an expert on change management, declares that technology will change “the very future of the human race.” Ryan Allis — the current chairperson of Connect and Hive in San Francisco and an angel investor in twenty- five companies, including SpaceX, Elon Musk’s Mars project — provides a startup guide to ease us into this new era.

All we need to do is reimagine “everything,” says Allis. With just “a laptop, a smartphone, and the cloud,” we can access any service anytime. While traditional institutions such as the educational system in low- income countries is regarded as a “stunning market failure” according to the likes of Matt Keller, Senior Director of Global Learning XPRIZE, the market “success” of new technology will step in and take its place.

Smart technology will replace not-so-smart people. Humans, it seems, have become obstacles to their own betterment. Technology entrepreneurs today are busy making all- inclusive, self- contained autonomous apps for the next billion users – majority of whom are outside the West and live in countries with less liberal institutions. Centralized reform should be discarded for personalized solutionism. Automation of self-help is the foundation of the innovation age.

This book talk will argue against these popular narratives and bring to question this laboratory approach to social progress – and why we have become more forgiving of technological failure than of human failure.

Payal Arora is Professor and Chair in Technology, Values and Global Media Cultures at the Erasmus school of Philosophy.

Time and place

05 November 13:00-14:30

Higher seminar

oom PC 249, on the second floor in the C-wing, Primus-building, Södertörn University, Campus Flemingsberg, find us


Arranged by

Media and Communications Studies at the School of Culture and Education, Södertörn University



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