Technology ethics, media practices symposium features two free public keynotes – Pennsylvania State University

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Free public keynotes by two internationally respected experts highlight a two-day symposium that focuses on media and technology ethics in early October at Penn State.

“Media Challenges to Digital Flourishing,” scheduled Oct. 6-7 on the University Park campus, features keynote addresses by David Gunkel of Northern Illinois University on Oct. 6, and Maria Silvia Vaccarezza of the University of Genoa on Oct. 7.

The two-day symposium also includes seven separate presentations by scholars focused on topics such as big data, emotion regulation, local digital news, media ethics theory and more.

“This event is an exciting way to bring some of the top thinkers in digital media ethics together to focus on issues that affect all of us,” said Patrick Lee Plaisance, the Don Davis Professor in Ethics in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, who coordinated and planned the symposium. “By hosting a symposium of this scope, Penn State is also helping to move digital ethics scholarship forward.”

Gunkel will present “The Relational Turn: An Ethics for the 21st Century and Beyond” at 9 a.m. Oct. 6 in the Flex Theater, located in the HUB-Robeson Center.

Gunkel, a professor in the Department of Communication at Northern Illinois, is an award-winning educator, researcher and author specializing in the philosophy of technology with a focus on the moral and legal status of artificial intelligence and robots. He is the author of more than 90 scholarly articles and has published 13 books. He has lectured and delivered award-winning papers throughout North and South America and Europe and is the founding co-editor of the Indiana University Press book series digital game stud­ies.

“Digital media and technology provide unprecedented opportunities in virtually every area of human endeavor,” Gunkel said. “But they also introduce new and unanticipated challenges–algorithmic bias, deepfakes, autonomous decision-making, etc. The task that confronts us and our students at this point in time is to respond to these challenges with innovative solutions that can ensure the kind of future we want for ourselves and our children.”

Vaccarezza will present “Civility in the Post-Truth Age: An Aristotelian Account” at 9 a.m. Oct. 7 in the Flex Theater.

She is an associate professor at the University of Genoa and author of several mono­graphs, journal articles and book chapters on several topics, including Iris Murdoch; Aristotle’s ethics; the role of phronesis; the unity of the virtues; moral exemplarity and admiration for exemplars; virtue, duty, and supererogation; media ethics; philosophy of emotions; philosophy of educa­tion. She has recently edited two books about ethics.

“Today, more than ever, ethicists and media professionals have a duty to help citizens navigate the digital oceans of a post-truth age by fostering virtuous attitudes toward fellow members of their communities,” Vaccarezza said. “This workshop will be a unique opportunity to play a part in such a momentous challenge.”

A full schedule for the symposium may be found online. All events are free and open to the public.

The symposium is hosted by the Don W. Davis Program in Ethical Leadership and co-sponsored by the Bellisario College, the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication, and the Rock Ethics Institute, all located at Penn State’s University Park campus.

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