Youth, utopias and revolutions at the XIII edition of the Philosophical Olympics in Salamanca

Does it still make sense to talk about revolution in our day? Is there a search for a utopia at background for a revolution? The digital society has revolutionized social interaction and communication, especially among young people. What tools do young people need to live these changes in a conscious way?

On March 23rd and 24th, the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Salamanca hosted the finals of the XIII edition of the Philosophical Olympics, a regional competition (as part of the national process, to be developed in May) aimed to secondary school students.

The event, which was also sponsored by the WYRED project, gathered over two days 400 boys and girls aged 13 to 17 from Castile and Leon. Young people had the opportunity to talk with philosophers, educators, engineers, youtubers and television series consultants, sharing with them questions and reflections on how to face modern revolutions and utopias and to become an active part in the construction of their future. The interaction in the meeting room was managed by a “unconference”, supported by mobile phones and a collaborative wall.

Participants in the conference at the Faculty of Philosphy of USAL

In particular one of the themes addressed was the utopia of the technological revolution and we would like to share with you the main results of the discussion.
At the present, when we talk about technology, we talk about a revolution. Nobody is oblivious to that social revolution which comes from the hand of technology. The advances occur so quickly, that nowadays the generations of the future are trained with knowledges and practices of the past in a present in which many people are already overwhelmed by the context of the informatics and communications. The request of 21st century citizens is for computational thinking skills to understand the world in which they live and the artefacts they will find in their daily life. But, computational thinking is not an end in itself, it is only one item more in a toolbox plenty of options that should be chosen and combined, in particular and related to the ethical issues associated with the development and use of technology, the computational thinking skills should be always complemented with critical thinking capabilities with the aim that technology will be defined and used in the right way and ethically. the problems that we are going to face every day are tremendously ambitious, tremendously attractive, but also dangerous.

The technology is going to be there, but let’s not forget that the important thing about technology is that it serves us, therefore researchers have to be there with our critical thinking to know it and to manage it, because otherwise we will become only in a mass controlled by that minority that controls technology. A quote from one the most important scientific and philosopher, which unfortunately has recently abandoned us, Stephen Hawking summarized the conclusion of the discussion: “Success in creating effective Artificial Intelligence, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. Or the worst. We just don’t know. So, we cannot know if we will be infinitely helped by Artificial Intelligence, or ignored by it and side-lined, or conceivably destroyed by it.”

The event is the first step of a dialogue at large scale with young Spanish people, which will be followed by a think tank organized by the USAL WYRED group with the aim of proposing a new version of the WYRED manifesto and new inputs for the research projects.

The entire conference is available at this link:

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