Virginia Tech launched a university-wide Tech for Humanity Initiative - Technical.ly DC

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Sep. 9, 2019 12:16 pm

Virginia Tech launched a university-wide Tech for Humanity Initiative

The initiative was created to produce research and gather experts to prepare students for tech innovation in the future "from the perspective of the human condition."
A view of Virginia Tech’s campus.

A view of Virginia Tech's campus.

(Photo via @virginia_tech on Twitter)

In light of the growing tech industry in the region, Virginia Tech is launching a new university-wide initiative, Tech for Humanity.

The human-centric initiative was created to produce research and gather experts to discuss critical issues when it comes to preparing VT students for tech innovation in the future. Research and events will be carried out at all nine of the university’s campuses, including its forthcoming Northern Virginia Innovation Campus.

“Networks of humans and machines are informing our decisions and improving our lives at home, on the highway, at work, and at play,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands in a statement. “As Virginia Tech and partners create these technologies, we have the responsibility and the opportunity to do so from the perspective of the human condition, addressing issues of design, access, ethics, policy, and regulation along with the development of the technology.”

Sylvester Johnson, VT’s assistant vice provost for the humanities who is leading the initiative as executive director, focuses his research on examining how intelligent machines can impact humans and democracy. He will be in charge of guiding scholars in different departments and on different issues throughout all of the university’s colleges as they discuss how tech innovation could impact their work.

“Failures to address the pitfalls of technologies have already created tremendous problems, some of which threaten to undermine privacy and democracy,” Johnson said in a statement. “Rapid advances in artificial intelligence, human-machine interfaces and synthetic biology are increasingly showing that technology isn’t only technical; it’s also social, cultural, political and economic.”

Amidst launching this new initiative, VT is working on adding a new hall and is also on the hunt for some senior-level staff for its Innovation Campus.

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