Research, Innovation, Start-up & Employment


Research, Innovation, Start-up & Employment

International Conference

May 21, 2013

Hosted by

Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning

Emanuel Pastreich


The Asia Institute

Keynote Address:

“The Importance of the Humanities in an Age of Rapid Technological Change”

Technological Change demands a Focus on the Humanities

The unprecedented rate of technological change taking place today provides us with tremendous opportunities at the same time it poses tremendous risks. It is essential that policy makers and ordinary citizens grasp the implications of this transformation of human society brought about by the convergence of technologies, and ultimately by the increasing speed of microprocessors.

The response to rapid technological change will require of us a new focus on the traditional humanities. That means that fields such as literature, philosophy, art, history and above all esthetics will require new attention. We must understand how the very nature of human experience is being altered by technological change—but that change is taking place at a level that is essentially invisible to us because the very means by which we perceive are shifting.

For example, as we rely increasingly on postings on the internet for information, we need to think more deeply about how we read, how we interpret and how we respond to texts. The problem grows increasingly serious as we must process contradictory narratives and we often must make serious decisions with insufficient information concerning motive and intention. This problem requires us to consider how we read and understand texts and the study of literature is the best way to address this critical issue. Literature is the study of the meaning and significance of texts, about the process by which the producers of texts give them meaning and the readers interpret that meaning. A profound understanding of literature is an absolute necessity in this age.