“Is anyone here old enough to remember when televisions were not flat?” asked Garreau. Most hands in the audience went up. “How about answering machines?” Fewer hands lifted. “The Sega Genesis?” Fewer still. “What about Polio?” All student hands went down. “We are living in an extraordinary time of exponential evolution,” noted Garreau.
Garreau went on to give examples of genetic, robotic and information technologies currently being engineered throughout the world. Garreau told the students that these advancements have the power to change what it means to be human—potentially in their lifetimes.
This was not Garreau’s first visit to Highland. The author spoke five years ago at Highland’s Writer’s Day Assembly intriguing students, faculty and staff alike.
“I was speaking with a group of seniors last year who said hearing Garreau speak when they were freshmen was one of the highlights of their Highland education,” noted event organizer and English Department Chair, Cathy Campbell. “We wanted this next generation of Highland students to have this same experience.”
Teachers and administrators prepared students for Garreau’s visit with reading assignments that included a portion of “Radical Evolution.” The students were engaged in conversations regarding education in the twenty-first century and the promises of perils in technology.
Campbell hopes Garreau’s visit and the surrounding discussions prompt Highland students to think more critically and thoughtfully about how humans intersect with technologies that are increasingly directed inwards, aimed at changing ourselves in fundamental ways. “I hope they come to realize that information isn't the same thing as knowledge,” she said, “and that 'enhancements' don't equal wisdom or happiness--it's essential to understand the difference. The question of what it means to be human has never been more relevant than it is for this generation.”
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For additional information on Warrenton Virginia's Highland School, call (540) 878-2700 or visit http://www.highlandschool.org