Like yesterday afternoon, I participated in unconference sessions this afternoon.
First, I attended a session with PJ Manney on empathy and technology. The session began by focusing primarily on how to promote empathy through video games, by encouraging persons to take on roles that require action other than violence. Then we discussed differences between how film and books promote empathy; the lack of differing details (internal dialog for film or visual stimuli for film) results in differing pathways to empathy. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make any comments, but had hoped to discuss the importance of creating pathways for empathy. Many of us find it easy to have empathy for experiences that can be viewed, but find ideological empathy much more difficult. Because of that, it is important that those of us who understand competing ideologies work to formulate syncretizations which enable persons of the two sides to empathize with each other.
Second, I attended a session entitled "winning the meme wars", anticipating an attack on religion. As it turned out, although some participants implied attacks on religion, we instead turned the focus to winning by not fighting. This meant different things to different persons. Some took the perspective that we should avoid telling the general population about advances in tech. While that may be appropriate in some cases, I think the more practical path is to seek to create mutual understanding and emphasis of shared values. Divisions lead to disputes, which can become wars, or worse: in a world with increasingly empowered individuals, each one of us could become significant variables in the effort to avoid global catastrophe. We must educate and promote growth and communal respect. The alternatives appear deadly.
After the second session, I ran to the taxi, and I'm now sitting in the San Jose airport finishing up this post. Before closing, I'll add that I had an opportunity to share a hotel room with John Grigg, an MTA member, during my stay in San Jose. I learned a lot about his background, and found yet again a kindred spirit with deep love for life and an optimisitic attitude toward our shared future. It's a pleasure to work with persons like John to advocate for a positive and mutually beneficial relation between religion, science, spirituality and technology.