July 21, 2016

Free technology conference at Purdue

McCartney Dawn Gerry McCartney (left), director of Purdue University's Dawn or Doom '16 technology conference and event, and Purdue System CIO, chats with attendees at the 2014 conference. (Purdue University photo) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – In many ways it looks like any other large technology conference: Big-name keynote speakers, rooms packed with people eager to hear about the latest technologies, and plenty of chances to network with others.

But the Dawn or Doom ’16 technology conference at Purdue University - which is one of the largest tech conferences in the Midwest - is different from those other conferences in a few ways, but perhaps the most striking is the cost.

It’s free.

Chris Unton, an electric utilities consultant from Indianapolis, decided to attend the conference last year after seeing advertising at the Indianapolis International Airport.

“It’s very thought-provoking and enlightening,” Unton says. “There were presentations on a wide range of technologies - retail technology, speech recognition, and space exploration were just some of them.

Doom Neville Jennifer Neville (left), Purdue University associate professor and Miller Family Chair of Computer Science and Statistics, and Nate Soares, executive director of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, try out an augmented reality art exhibit at the 2014 Dawn or Doom conference. (Purdue University photo) Download image

“I brought my 11-year-old daughter, and afterward we had several good conversations about what we’d heard.”

This is the third year Purdue has held the Dawn or Doom conference. This year’s event will be held Oct. 3–4 in Purdue’s Stewart Center.

Gerry McCartney, Purdue’s System CIO, vice president for Information Technology, professor of technology, and organizer of the conference, says there is no charge because the conference and event is part of the university’s land-grant mission.

“Purdue has a mission of educating not just the students enrolled here, but everyone. With technology playing an ever-increasing role in our lives, we decided there was no better topic for an open and public discussion than the societal effects of emerging technologies,” McCartney says.

“We are fortunate that several corporations, including EMC2, HP Enterprise, and Cisco, also think these are topics worth discussing and have provided enough financial support for the event that again this year there is no charge to attend.”

The annual technology event is also different because it includes sessions on the dangers of new technologies, and stays away from presenting uber-hyped descriptions of the coming tech nirvana that are little more than sales pitches in disguise.

“We try to present a diverse view of technology, which is why we not only have engineers and computer scientists presenting, but also writers, philosophers, business leaders and policy experts,” McCartney says. “Some of the talks, like last year’s excellent presentation on biometrics, explain how a new technology can solve many problems. Some of the presentations, like a few we’ve had on artificial intelligence, describe possible dangers or at least serious pitfalls of the new technologies.”

Although the event is free and open to the public, attendees are encouraged to register online. People who register online will have early access to seating at the presentations.

“Each of the first two years we did have some sessions in which the rooms filled up and people were turned away,” McCartney says. “This year people who pre-register will be allowed in first, and then we’ll open the doors to others for the remaining seats.”

Dawn or Doom ’16 will feature two keynote speakers who are known internationally and have, perhaps, different views regarding technology.

Dave Eggers, who is the author of many best-selling books, including “The Circle,” “A Hologram for the King,” and his first book, “A Heart-Breaking Work of Staggering Genius.” Eggers is the co-founder of 826 National, a network of writing and tutoring centers. He is the co-founder of Voice of Witness and ScholarMatch, a college access organization that connects donors and under-resourced students to make college possible. “The Circle, ” satirizes and provides a strong denunciation of the tech industry and social media in general. “The Circle” is also the basis for an upcoming movie starring Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, John Boyega and Karen Gillan.

Marcus Shingles, is the chief executive officer of The XPRIZE Foundation (http://www.XPRIZE.org), a nonprofit that works to develop new technologies to solve the world’s grandest social challenges through techniques, including gamification, crowd-sourcing, incentive competitions, and exponential technologies. Before XPRIZE, Shingles was a partner at Deloitte Consulting LLP and leader of Deloitte Consulting’s Innovation Group, where he worked with corporate executive teams to better understand and plan for the opportunities and threats associated with disruptive innovation. Shingles will be speaking on how business leaders can “Uber Yourself Before You Get Kodaked.”

Diana Hancock, director of IT commercialization, says there will be 26 presentations over the two days of the conference, covering topics such as virtual reality, cybersecurity, robotics, internet life, and food and water contamination.

“We have a mix of nationally known speakers we’ve invited to campus and Purdue experts who are prominent in their fields,” Hancock says.

A full list of speakers and the conference schedule is available at the Dawn or Doom ’16 website at http://www.purdue.edu/dawnordoom.

Dawn or Doom ’16 also features an art exhibit, “Interspace,” in which nationally known artists use art to comment on technology. This year all of the exhibits in the art exhibit, which will be held in Purdue’s Robert L. Ringel Gallery, will focus on virtual and augmented reality.

Additional events include a media panel discussion on reporting on technology, a writing contest for Purdue students, and a free outdoor movie night on the lawn of the Purdue Memorial Union on Sunday, Oct. 2. This year’s movie is “Jurassic World.”

Additional information about the Dawn or Doom Summit can be found at the event's website, http://www.purdue.edu/dawnordoom, on the event's Facebook page, or by following the Twitter account @DawnOrDoom. 

Writer: Steve Tally, 765-494-9809, steve@purdue.edu, Twitter: sciencewriter 

Sources: Gerry McCartney, 765-496-2270, mccart@purdue.edu, Twitter: @gerrymccartney

Diana Hancock, 765-494-0840, handockd@purdue.edu, Twitter, @dianahancock

Chris Unton: Contact Steve Tally, steve@purdue.edu or 765-494-9809 

Related release:

Speakers, topics set for Dawn or Doom ‘16

Note to Journalists: Journalists may register for the conference at http://www.purdue.edu/dawnordoom/Press. An animated .gif of the conference poster is also available. Contact Steve Tally at steve@purdue.edu 

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