Good afternoon ladies and Gentlemen,
I believe that humanism is about kindness and caring for people in need.
I believe the role of humanism in today’s technological world is to guide technological development to respond to human need in a benevolent way.
In 2010 I was in Yushu during that terrible earthquake. I experienced the full horror of buildings falling and people being trapped. I witnessed the quick response from modern technology when people inside yushu called people outside for help with their mobile phones. Very soon the whole world was responding whole heartedly. After only 5 hours, there was another sound- this time it was helicopters bringing doctors, medical supplies, and the facilities to evacuate the wounded to hospital.
Recent advances in earthquake detection and rescue technology have been developed in response to the need to save lives quickly.
Consider advances in green food technology, guided by the need for clean natural food and to protect the environment;
Advances in water conservation and purification, guided by the need for clean drinking water and for crops and livestock;
advances in delivering education to everyone, especially the use of video and the internet for distance learning;
advances in medicine, especially affordable medicine for AIDS sufferers in Africa;
and advances in building technology guided by the need to keep people safe and warm.
All these are the result of responding to human needs with kindness and caring and guiding technology for the benefit of mankind.
When I think about the world of advanced technology today, I think of my home, the remote and harsh environment of the Tibetan Plateau, and farmers living in tents with solar energy that they use to power their lights, TV, computers and to improve their lifestyle. I think of farmers talking on their mobile phones, discussing the weather patterns, the cost of food, community news and events. They even talk about Steve Jobs. The train to Lhasa, itself a wonderful engineering feat, brings modern medicine and education to these remote areas. The communities are now interlinked and connected, one of the most basic human needs.
Human beings have a need to be connected, to be safe to be cared for in times of trouble and hardship.
The development of technology must be guided by these needs. If this is not so, then the development of technology is in the hands of mean and, greedy people. The focus of technological development would be wars and weapons, fraud the misuse of information, and the exploitation of people, such as cheap labor.
It can only be humanism which provides the guidance we all need for a better world.
And it is you, who have the responsibility to use the technology wisely, to spread the kindness and caring.