KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– New information technologies are vital tools but must not be allowed to control society, University of Tennessee-Knoxville graduates were warned Friday.
John Seigenthaler, chairman and founder of the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, addressed more than 800 summer graduates.
Seigenthaler said futurists envision a world in which ordinary chores such as going to work, shop, vote or pay bills can be done at home via computer “cyberspace.”
This “world without walls” can come to fruition and benefit society only if people reason, reflect and think for themselves, he said.
“Do not labor for the cause of technology. Make technology labor for the cause of a better, more enlightened society,” Seigenthaler said. “Use your intellect to control the medium. Never let the medium control you.”
It is important that those who learn new communications technologies do not use them as a refuge to escape real-life problems, Seigenthaler said.
“Human sensitivity must not be sacrificed on the altar of technology,” Seigenthaler said. “Problems will not evaporate from our lives simply because some of us run indoors. Cyberspace is a place to live in and learn in and enjoy. It is not a place to flee and hide.”
Seigenthaler also cautioned the graduates against:
* Letting new communications become a wedge that divides society into haves and have-nots and creates a new wave of illiteracy.
* Surrendering to the government your right to decide what you can or cannot access on the information superhighway.