COMMUNICATION, TECHNOLOGY AND HUMAN DIGNITY: DISPUTED RIGHTS, CONTESTED TRUTHS
The year 2018 saw the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At its heart was the premise that everyone had the right to live in dignity. In the intervening years, with the successive growth of television, the explosion of digital media, and the emergence of artificial intelligence, communication systems have become ever more central to organizing every aspect of daily life, prompting renewed attention to questions around their role in both supporting and subverting the exercise of rights and the achievement of universal dignity.
The right to voice and visibility, to have one’s experiences and ideas fairly represented in the heartlands of public culture is now established as a basic human right alongside rights of access to the comprehensive information and analysis that supports individual expression and social participation on a basis of equality, dignity and mutual respect.
Under current conditions these fundamental communication-related rights are under increasing pressure and threat. Control over the organisation of innovations in communication and their applications has increasing passed from governments to corporations. Concern with the public interest and the common good has been increasing displaced by business models designed to maximise revenues. These models are bolstering appeals to consumption while weakening the social contract of citizenship, providing new and largely unregulated platforms for the dissemination of rumour, misinformation and ‘fake’ news, ushering in the era of so called ‘post truth’ and reinforcing social and political polarization
These developments are taking place against a backdrop of rapidly widening inequalities of income and wealth both within countries and between different areas of the world. One visible manifestation of these changes is the escalating volume of migrations driven by political and environmental as well as economic pressures. The resulting expansion in the numbers of refugees and displaced persons poses new challenges for the rights of minorities and for guarantees of personal freedom and full access to citizens’ rights
With Communication, Technology and Human Dignity as the principal themes, the 2019 Madrid Congress aims to generate a cross-disciplinary debate that brings differing but interacting perspectives to bear on the urgent issues raised by present developments. This objective will be the primary focus of the plenary sessions and special sessions and as in previous years we encourage sections and the working groups to pay particular attention to the core themes in organizing their programs, while not precluding presentations based on recent research and theorizing in other areas covered by their remits.
The objective should not simply be to present new evidence and theorizing on key issues, but to reflect on the situation today in order to suggest how present developments may unfold in future and to engage with the challenges they present for research, policy and action.
At IAMCR Madrid 2019, we aim to analyse the impact of the latest advances in communication technology on society, culture and human rights, giving special importance to the quality and authenticity of sources and messages in view of increased mechanization and artificial intelligence. The context of these problems is how the advance of technology affects the quality of human life, how communication technology affects the objectivity of facts, and how the geopolitical and socioeconomic contexts are affected by the most recent changes in the structure and modes adopted by communication processes.
Present tendencies and scenarios pose urgent questions for individual and social rights. How can communication continue to facilitate human connection ,understanding and mutual respect in the face of the ever-increasing technological nature of the media and geopolitical turbulence? How can we define and reflect on our personal and social identities at a time when the emerging technologies and other factors call into question the established notion of “belonging to a nation”?