What is Technology? (2019) will examine interactions and transactions among practical arts and tools, techniques and processes, moral knowledge and imagination, to navigate our everchanging world. In a broad sense, technology can be understood as methods of intelligent inquiry and problem-solving into all domains of life. The conference-experience will enact a collaborative network of transdisciplinary research by cultivating communication as the heart of science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics, and environments.

This year marks the ten-year anniversary and ninth annual What is…?, bringing together natural and social scientists, scholars, government officials, industry professionals, artists and designers, as well as alumni, students, community organizations, and the public.


“[John Dewey] thought of technology as inquiry into techniques, tools, and artifacts. And he thought that techniques are among the habits that are necessary to the continuance and growth of human life. He therefore thought that the major human problem was improving intelligence, which he identified with technology. And this means no more or less than developing better and more productive methods of inquiry into our techniques, our tools, and our artifacts. […] what are commonly called the ‘theoretical sciences’ such as chemistry and biology are no less cases of this type of activity than what are commonly called ‘material technologies’ such as mechanical engineering and crop science. Theoretical knowing, such as that involved in mathematics, is no less a case of technological activity than is the type of knowing that is involved with concrete, practical outcomes such as building bridges. Because the theoretical is also artifactual, even what is sometimes called ‘pure research’ is a type of technology.” —Larry Hickman, 2009. (10 years ago).

Pattern recognition in the midst of a huge overwhelming destructive force is the way out of the maelstrom. The huge vortices of energy created by our media present us with similar possibilities of evasion of consequences of destruction. By studying the patterns of the effects of this huge vortex of energy in which we are involved, it may be possible to program a strategy of evasion and survival.” —Marshall McLuhan, 1979. (40 years ago).