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What is it to be human in a digital world?

World-leading technologist and anthropologist Professor Genevieve Bell (ANU/Intel) has been named the 2017 Boyer Lecturer.

Each year since 1959, the ABC has sparked national discussion about critical ideas with the Boyer Lectures. In October, Professor Bell continues this proud tradition by interrogating what it means to be human, and Australian, in a digital world.

30 years ago, Professor Bell left Australia to study anthropology at Stanford University in America. That journey took her to the heart of Silicon Valley, where she led Intel’s first user experience research and development lab and most recently served as their chief futurist. Her job was to help invent the future and ensure that it was shaped by lived experience.

Bell has been at the epicentre of the biggest set of digital transformations in our lifetime, and now she’s returned home to Australia, because there are some urgent conversations we need to have about the role of technology in building our future.

The ABC Boyer Lectures are the starting point for that conversation.

“Twenty years in Silicon Valley has left me with the distinct sense that we need to keep reasserting the importance of people, and the diversity of our lived experiences, into our conversations about technology and the future,” says Professor Bell.

“It’s easy to get seduced by all the potential of the new and the wonders it promises. There is a lot of hype and not so much measured conversation.

“Many conversations seem to originate in the United States, but it is my sense this is a time and place to have that conversation here in Australia.

“After all, we are not just passive by-standers in this digital world – we have been active creators of it. So it is time for another conversation about our possible digital and human futures and about the world we might want to make together.”

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