As technology explorers, we are navigating exhilarating, confusing, and terrifying new spaces online. We are building grand virtual worlds that feed our need for community and connection but that also boost our darkest impulses to an unimaginable scale. What values do we bring to these realities? Are we replicating age-old systems of destruction, or is there a potential for digital experiences that are human-centered, compassionate, and transcendent?
David Chalmers is University Professor of Philosophy and Neural Science and co-director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness at New York University. He is the author of The Conscious Mind (1996), Constructing the World (2010), and Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy (2022). He is known for formulating the “hard problem” of consciousness, which inspired Tom Stoppard’s play The Hard Problem, and for the idea of the “extended mind,” which says that the tools we use can become parts of our minds.
John Mack is an artist, photographer, author, lecturer and the founder of the nonprofit initiative Life Calling, whose mission is to foster awareness and balance for society in the Digital Age. Mack is a 2022 honoree of The Explorer’s Club 50: Fifty people changing the world who the world needs to know about. Mack has recently published two books, A Land Between Worlds: The Shifting Poetry of the Great American Landscape, and Notes to Selfie: Bits of Truth in a Phoney World. Additionally, Mack serves as a board member of Fairplay, an organization that strives to create a world where kids can be kids, free from the false promises of marketers and the manipulations of Big Tech. He has served as an adjunct lecturer for the Graduate program of Design at the University of Lisbon. He currently lives between London and Seville.
Charlotte Kent, PhD is the Assistant Professor of Visual Culture at Montclair State University and an arts writer. Her work theorizes how visual and linguistic rhetorical devices constrain what we see by exploring their historical and political context. Her current research investigates the absurd in contemporary art and speculative design. She writes for academic journals (Leonardo, Word and Image, Journal of Visual Culture, etc) and general audience magazines (Art Review, BOMB, Wired, among others), with a monthly panel and column on Art and Technology for the Brooklyn Rail, where she is also an Editor-at-Large. Prior to academia, she developed education for the eyecare industry and managed an art school located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is a graduate of the CUNY Graduate Center, St. John’s College, and Philips Academy Andover and currently lives in New York City.
Albuquerque-based activist, educator, and comic creator Dr. Lee Francis IV is the Executive Director of Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, owner and CEO of Native Realities Publishing, and founder of the Indigenous Comic Con and Red Planet Books and Comics. Dr. Francis is an award-winning poet and writer, whose work revolves around education and how Native Peoples and Indigenous communities are represented in popular culture.