Access:

Resources, Information, and Technology for the World

Purdue Pugwash Conference 2011

Today, more people have access to resources, information, and technology than at any point in history. Millions around the world can get clean water by simply turning on a faucet and can find almost any piece of information they could need through the Internet. Many can illuminate their homes with the flick of a switch and rest assured that their families will not starve due to famine. And yet as an image of the Earth at night reveals, despite the glowing lights of cities and highways that crisscross our continents, much of humanity is left in the dark.

The work of building access for the entire world is not finished, but is moving quickly and is leaving a vastly improved standard of living in its wake. At this conference, you will learn how people at the front lines are pushing the boundaries of global access to resources, information, and technology, whether through building sustainable wells and water treatment in rural Nicaragua, to fighting censorship in repressed states, to creating new breeds of staple crops that can resist droughts and prevent famine. Our Keynote speaker is Mr. Douglas Gardner, Deputy Director of the United Nations Bureau of Development. He will speak on the state of access in today’s world, and about progress in attaining the Millennium Development Goals, the ambitious goals set forth by the 192 member states of the UN in 2000 to greatly improve the lives of Earth’s six billion plus inhabitants. Our final speaker will be Mr. Zach Exley, Chief Community Officer of the Wikimedia Foundation, who will give an address on Wikipedia and the future of access to knowledge. Breakfast and lunch on the day of the conference are provided, as is access to a preconference talk Friday night, April 1, and a conference t-shirt. The world is changing in exciting ways; come listen to the experts, discuss the issues, and learn about the state of access in today’s world.

Pugwash strives to provide a forum for discussion of the social and ethical impacts of science and technology. True to our origins as a response to the threat of global nuclear war, in the past we have often focused on the dangers of, or caution needed with, new technologies. We have examined critical issues facing the world ranging from integrity in science to the healthcare system to the relationship between energy and the environment, always looking for the pros and cons of all options. Keeping this critical spirit in mind, with this year’s conference we hope to emphasize the enormous potential for human betterment offered by science and technology rather than the potential for danger or disaster. Universal access to resources, information, and technology is a grand challenge, but it is one that is filled with enormous promise.

Conference Agenda