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In a world that is struggling to strive, The New York Times Debate raised the dilemma of whether technology can save the world or not. It opposed one member of the “For” team and one of the “Against” team each pitching ideas, then moving on to the next pair. Afterwards, the jury shared its thoughts and the audience voted, coming to a very close call of 512 to 507 in favor of the “For” team.

John Gordon argued that technology helps the world because “it creates opportunities, expands creativity and it is the only way to solve some of our greatest problems”.

The opposition, Dessi Savova, stated that technology can be used for both good and evil and “without people, politics, and right regulations there can be no solutions to our problems”.

For the second panel, Rim Tehraoui pointed out three factors: Evolution, Purpose, and Humanity. “Technology itself is just a tool, it doesn’t have a purpose of its own but when it is driven by purpose it can save the world”.

Genevieve Macfarlane Smith confirmed that “there is no doubt that humanity needs all the help it can get from technologies […] but the potential depends on political will and human agency”. Without ethical implications, technology will lead to human destruction.

Gina Neff argued that technology has already saved lives. Problems are being solved with speed, strength and information, especially regarding COVID-19. “I do not want to live in a world without the access to the kind of information that we have” she says.

On the other hand, Rahaf Harfoush stated that the biggest challenge is that “darkness is part of the cost that we pay for these advances. The most important factor here is us, and we have to decide where we want to put our money, effort and time.”

Gina asserted in the closing argument that we can set regulations and fight misinformation to make technology more helpful while Genevieve argued that we need to acknowledge the shortcomings of technology and invest in non-technological inventions.

The jury composed of Dipty Chander, E-mma President, Tabitha Goldstaub, Chair of the UK Government’s AI Council and Co-Founder of CogX and Aurelie Jean, Computational Scientist and CEO, In Silico Veritas, stated that both teams had solid arguments and that technology helps, but we should be careful because men created it. Finally, different choices would have been made if there were more women involved in technology.

By Andrea Gholam

As part of our efforts to engage young and emerging leaders, students and alumni from HEC attended and reflected on sessions over the course of the three-day Women’s Forum Global Meeting. Opinions expressed are solely writers’ own and do not express the views or opinions of the Women’s Forum.