Had a remarkable couple of days last week. Walking with Robots (WWR), the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) and the London Engineering Project jointly ran a pilot Young Peoples' Visions Conference. The aim of the 2 day event was to give an opportunity for around 20 young adults (age 16-18) to "explore visions of their future and the part robots will play" in that future.
For me the event was important because it takes Walking with Robots into a new form of dialogue. At WWR events and activities I have been privileged to engage with many children, teenagers and adults, over the past year and I increasingly have a sense that our children, in particular, believe that the future is nothing to do with them. That technology is something that happens, or is imposed from outside and that they are merely passive consumers or targets for that technology. In this conference we really tried to change that view. It was wonderful to see the group change from - at the beginning - seeing this as 2 days out of college to - in the end - all being deeply engaged in the dialogue. I got a real sense of them feeling empowered and that their considered opinions are important - not least because those opinions will be published by the RAE and send to policymakers. In other words that they do have a say in their own technological futures.