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2014 Winter Socrates Seminars

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How Technology is Changing Us: How We Think, Relate, and Lead

Digital technology has become imbedded into our lives, impacting how we think and remember, mediating our relationships and how we connect, communicate, and interact with each other.  It is having a profound impact on how we govern and manage our organizations, companies, and countries, and how we educate future generations.  Do our devices enlighten us or create an unhealthy dependence? Are Google, Facebook and Instagram making us collectively more informed or distracted? What will be the overall effect on Millennnials and the legacy of their generation? Are there grounds for optimism or is there an urgent need to wake up to how this tech tidal wave is overwhelming our lives and institutions?

This seminar will explore how the way our brains and relationships are being re-wired in the digital age, and the impact these fundamental changes are having on the art of leadership.

Moderator: Stephen Balkam, founder and CEO, Family Online Safety Institute

Health and Wellness: Social Good or Personal Responsibility?

We live in a world of huge abundance and personal freedom. The benefits we have strived for—shelter, food, security—are in reach for most of us; we have evolved to crave them and increasingly to achieve them. Yet our very success has created an abundance that is bad for us; too much comfort and food can destroy our bodies.  Life expectancy is no longer rising, and many people are living a longer part of their lives in physical hardship brought on not by want but by plenty.

How can we help people to live healthier lives? And if they do not respond, what is the obligation of society to pay for their self-inflicted ills? How do we deal with the fundamental contradictions between people’s choices about diet, activity and other behaviors in our rich, free society, and their impact both on personal health and on the public purse? What is the responsibility of businesses and government to protect our health? Even as we consider the changes wrought by Obamacare in the US, we face broader questions as health becomes in part a matter of choice as well as luck.

Moderator: Esther Dyson, chairman of EDventure Holdings and founder of, for Health Initiative Coordinating Council

The Future of Privacy and Transparency: Surveillance in the Age of Snowden and Manning

Does the widespread availability of personal data justify the government’s need for covert surveillance or does it make secrecy obsolete and unnecessary? Recent disclosures by Snowden, Manning, and Wikileaks have redefined the debate about the proper balance between privacy and transparency. In this seminar, we will have a wide ranging discussion about where to draw the line.

Moderator: Jeff Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, professor of law at The George Washington University and the legal affairs editor of The New Republic

The Aspen Institute Socrates Program invites you to join us in Aspen, CO for an exciting weekend of learning and winter activities over President’s day weekend February 14-17, 2014. Registration and scholarship applications for Summer Socrates will soon be available online.

Event information
Fri Feb 14, 2014 - Mon Feb 17, 2014
12:00am - 12:00am GMT+0000
Aspen, CO, United States