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  • Linda Derhak

Technology and Building Sustainable Societies

Technology is not a magic bullet that will solve the climate crisis. It is a tool that combined with human creativity can create solutions to the biggest global challenge of our time. The panel, “Technology as a tool for climate change” at The United Nations Conference in Salt Lake City discussed this mindset, and how it’s more important than ever as we enter the fourth industrial revolution. There’s going to be a workforce transition as industries change and technology develops.

There’s a drive towards urbanization, which puts a focus on building sustainable cities and communities. The panel explored how resilient cities are more important than smart ones, which are susceptible to cyber security issues. Technology offers a way to begin understanding the problems cities will face such as access to food, climate change, and increased population. These challenges are also an opportunity to move in a different direction. Part of this industrial revolution is a move away from specialization. People will be expected to have a wider range of understanding and utilize their creativity to solve complex problems that affect multiple areas.

This panel was insightful because it addressed the changes cities will face aside from the obvious climate concerns. For example, changing the energy sources of a city to renewable sources will likely affect nonrenewable energy industries. People will need to be retrained.

Technology is a necessary tool in this migration to sustainable societies. Sometimes people are fearful of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence. The presenters explained that this fear comes from a lack of understanding, and it is aggregated by uncertainty. It is important that we learn how to engage meaningfully with new technologies instead of expecting it to do all of the work for us. Our creativity and ability to think holistically is what makes us human. We must learn how to learn in order to embrace the inevitable changes our communities will undergo in the generations to come.

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