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Choices and Challenges - Forum explores computer-network technology

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 23 - March 9, 1995

On Thursday, March 30, the Choices and Challenges Project at Virginia Tech will present a forum to explore the ways computer-network technologies may soon significantly alter traditional patterns of human existence. The afternoon's teleconference session will be broadcast by satellite to the Roanoke Graduate Center and other localities in Virginia.

The U.S. government and many businesses are actively promoting the development of a telecommunications infrastructure that will make electronic villages possible--indeed common--by the year 2010. The creation of fiber-optic superhighways, designed to make vast stores of information easily available to individuals and institutions, is regarded by many as necessary to advancing the quality of life in American society.

In the rapid move to implement these technologies, however, little attention has been given to exploring the human consequences, according to Doris Zallen, director of the Choices and Challenges Project. "These new forms of communication and information exchange are certain to have revolutionary effects on education, the workplace, government, health care, social interaction--on nearly every aspect of human life and thought," Zallen said. "This Choices and Challenges forum will examine just such effects."

Morning background sessions will cover ethical, social, technical, and historical issues. A live teleconference, broadcast nationally from Virginia Tech from 12:30 to 3 p.m., will feature eminent presenters from the fields of ethics, law, education, anthropology, medicine, and government. There will also be follow-up discussions to examine potential changes in social interactions, creativity, and public policy.

The forum is open to the public at no charge and will take place at the Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference Center, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with registration beginning at 8 a.m. Pre-registration is not required but is strongly recommended to allow for sufficient seating and an adequate supply of printed materials. In the event that discussion sessions are filled, preference will be given to those who have pre-registered.

To receive a program brochure and registration form, call the conference registrar at (703) 231-5182 or the Choices and Challenges Project office at (703) 231-6476 or use Internet: choices@vt.edu. Childcare registration is required by March 20.

The teleconference session (12:30-3 p.m.) will be broadcast simultaneously to the Roanoke Graduate Center and followed by a discussion at that site, sponsored by the Science Museum of Western Virginia. Space is limited, so pre-registration is recommended. For more information about the Roanoke program, contact the Science Museum of Western Virginia at (703) 342-5718.

For more information, call Chris Hays Dove or Ginette Aley at 1-6476.