Why Drones Need Our Better Angels

Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick PhD is an associate professor of political sociology. He teaches at the Kroc School of Peace Studies on the University of San Diego campus, and while his interests are varied, he’s most passionate when it comes to the study of social movements and social change, with an added emphasis on the role that technology plays in society.

Of particular interest is how the advent of small, commercially available drones will play out in our everyday lives. Austin opens his talk at the Kroc School’s Peace Innovators Conference by talking about how he and a grad student measured the size of a crowd during a protest in Budapest, Hungary. He’s a big believer in empowered people and accountable authorities.

This was a protest against the government’s plan to initiate a tax on internet usage. And while previous protests in Budapest had been relatively small, this one was predicted to be much bigger, and by using a drone to capture the event Austin was able to verify the size of the crowd, which was far greater than the government claimed. In the end, the government was forced to drop their plan. So in this case, drone technology served the public quite well.

Drones can help us see the world from a new perspective, and drones can hold the powerful to account. – Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

But Austin goes on to talk about what may lie ahead with the expanded use of drones, as they can be used, just like any other technology, for good or for evil. He reminds us that the internet has evolved from the information superhighway, to the dark web, in the span of just three decades. Despite best intentions, over time the technology has enabled criminals.

Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress. – Paul Virilio

Online banking provides great benefit, yet it also exposes us to having our account hacked. Mapping software can guide us to our destination, while at the same time tracking our every move and location. Social media sites can connect us to friends, but can also become a platform for hijacked political debates. A classic case of unintended consequences.

And drones are undergoing a similar evolution. Watch Austin’s talk to gain insight as to how our future may be affected, for better or worse, by the increased implementation of drone technology. Which of the scenarios presented will come to pass? Do you seen this technology serving society, or becoming a tool for the self-serving? Are you excited, frightened, cautious?

Aerial Drone Over Lake

Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

In short, technology has become a character in our personal story, and can shift the narrative in many ways. As you think about the trajectory of your story, and the wisdom you wish to share with others, think about how technology has affected, or could affect, your storyline.

Peace Innovators is a program from the Kroc School of Peace Studies, University of San Diego in which select faculty members prepare presentations that are focused on the human issues they address within their professional studies as well as class curriculum. I had the pleasure of working with each of these speakers as they prepared their talks.

Article written by Mark Lovett – Copyright Storytelling with Impact – All rights reserved

 

Peacemakers at the University

One benefit of being a professional in higher education is the opportunity to change the lives of students at a critical point in their personal development. As young adults discover who they are and attempt to map out their future, or at least determine the direction they will take upon graduation, they need to know how they can make a difference.

As Dean of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego (USD), Patricia Márquez understands the perils of conflict, the importance of conflict resolution, and the need to develop peace professionals.

Dean Márquez doesn’t open her talk by referencing USD, or her own experience as an educator, but rather tells a historical tale that takes the audience back in time to “113 years ago, in 1895”. She goes on to explain how Charles Eliot, the president of Harvard University, decided to start a business school at the university. This combination of a second hand story and historical narrative is a compelling way to begin her talk about the importance of peace studies in a world that is dealing with conflict at every turn.

At three minutes into her talk Dean Márquez brings us a century forward into the present day, and for the first time introduces the topic of conflict resolution. She makes the case that just as business education became a foundational piece of our expanding economy, peace studies will become just as pivotal in shaping our collective future. This is an interesting way in which an audience comes to understand the merits of an idea by hearing about a similar, or parallel story that comes to the same conclusion. “We need professionals to build peace.”

This statement becomes her stake in the ground, the key idea that she will go on to explain in detail with specific examples of how this paradigm is playing out around the world. She then uses specific examples to illustrate the challenges we face in achieving peaceful coexistence. From New York City to Kibera, Nairobi, Mexico City and Cape Town, to the most common human desire, to live a better life, as exemplified by the flow of migrants.

“In an increasingly diverse, dense, and connected world, the question for us is how to build peaceful coexistence where the rights of all individuals are being met.”

How does your story relate to events in the past? Is there a parallel story that can highlight the path of your own narrative? Are there personal stories that provide current and relevant examples of how your idea or solution can change the status quo?

Peace Innovators is a program from the Kroc School of Peace Studies, University of San Diego in which select faculty members prepare presentations that are focused on the human issues they address within their professional studies as well as class curriculum. I had the pleasure of working with each of these speakers as they prepared their talks.

Article written by Mark Lovett – Copyright Storytelling with Impact – All rights reserved

 

Transcending the Border with Anchors Not Parachutes

Ev Meade, PhD, director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego, explores how universities can help to build peace in places beset by violence and shrouded in fear, but only if we learn to see ourselves as anchors, rather than parachutes.

Often times the best of intentions don’t deliver the intended results in the nonprofit world. This can happen when organizations approach a difficult situation with a short term solution, and impose their ideas upon those in need without understanding the root of the problem.

In Ev Meade’s view, those “parachute” tactics fall short of the mark. In order to effect real, long-lasting change, organizations need to think of themselves as “anchors” who become embedded into the community, seeking feedback from those who live in the area and thus know what’s really going on. At that point solutions can be crafted for the long term.

In his talk Ev speaks about the challenges of working in Sinaloa, Mexico, home of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel, as well as the cartel’s former leader, Joaquín Guzmán, known as “El Chapo”.

Ev takes us into the community and describes what life is like for the residents, in one case highlighting the fact that “more than 90 percent of homicides do not produce an arrest.”

Despite the somber nature of the topic, Ev brings his passion and energy to the stage, with great use of vocal variation and pausing to support an evolving narrative that looks at failed policies, misconceptions and stereotypes, then presents a new way of dealing with troubled communities that involves an understanding of the facts and partnering with the community before becoming an anchor that can be relied upon.

Peace Innovators is a program from the Kroc School of Peace Studies, University of San Diego in which select faculty members prepare presentations that are focused on the human issues they address within their professional studies as well as class curriculum. I had the pleasure of working with each of these speakers as they prepared their talks.

Article written by Mark Lovett – Copyright Storytelling with Impact – All rights reserved