Queenslanders in Conversation wrap-up: Paradise lost or Found?

“So much flux, so much hybridity…” – future researcher and QiC panellist Dr Marcus Bussey

Queenslanders in Conversations panel members

Queenslanders in Conversations panellists including Dr David Tuffley, Cat Sparks, Jordan Duffy, Dr Marcus Bussey and host Kelly Higgins-Devine

“A show of hands if you remember telephone party-lines?” asks Kelly Higgins-Devine from ABC Radio Brisbane. “Plug-in cord switch-boards? … how about a world without mobile phones?” As hands go up there are nods and smiles in the audience, and on the panel. “Hands up for people who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about?” More smiles as hands go up as the millennials show themselves.

“Could you have imagined,” continues Kelly, “the digital space we live in, in 2017, back when …every phone had to be attached to a cord?” She laughs. “It seems barbaric now, doesn’t it?”

Digital innovation is creating change on a massive scale, change that was inconceivable 100 years ago (or 30, for that matter). This change is far-reaching, rapid, and for some, overwhelming. On February 22 Queenslanders in Conversation asked a panel of future thinkers, “Will our digital future be paradise lost, or will it be paradise found?”

The discussion happened both live in the SLQ auditorium and digitally online through Twitter and a live stream of the event. The Twitter hashtag #digitalfutures enjoyed a healthy use by real-time and virtual participants alike.

Tweets posted during the panel discussion

Tweets posted during the panel discussion

The buzz around the hour and a quarter-long conversation points to its relevance, and manifests many of the common concerns – and hopes – that Queenslanders have for the future. The ideas explored gave an insight into the complexities of imagining our collective next step. One theme that wove its way throughout the talk concerned technology’s ability to create global connections and how on the one hand this makes us accountable to each other and raises human consciousness, and on the other hand shares information so broadly that those who choose to use knowledge unethically can easily do so (e.g. designer babies and aggressive computer and human viruses).

Panellists also discussed the human propensity to solve problems and whether or not technology will address dilemmas like climate change; how our connectivity is changing political and economic power structures such as capitalism; how a focus on purpose and flexibility are changing the future of work; and how science fiction seeks to imagine the future but in reality just expresses our current fears.

Will our digital future be paradise lost, or will it be paradise found? The question itself is a hallmark of our time, and remains open for further discussion. Will technology mean a positive or negative future, or something in-between? What do you think?

Watch the recording of the event and make up your own mind: http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/audio-video/webcasts/recent-webcasts/queenslanders-in-conversation-feb-2017

The next Queenslanders in Conversation will be hosted by ABC Radio Brisbane’s Steven Austin and will explore the future of work. Visit our What’s on page to book your free ticket to this event on Wednesday May 24 at 6pm.

Find out more about the Digital Futures Lab, and the free activities on offer: http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/digitalfutures

Anne Pensalfini

Signature Program Support Officer