Sharjah: With the rapid developments in technology and its steadily expanding influence in almost every aspect of human life, the 11th International Government Communication Forum (IGCF) held an interactive workshop titled ‘Brave Conversations’ to highlight the growing impact of technology on people’s lives.

Through a series of workshops held on the opening day, ‘Brave Conversations’ explored how people should live with technology and how to make it work for them instead of allowing technology to dominate lives.

“A lot of people feel that technology is just something we use mindlessly,” said Leanne Fry, Chief Innovation Officer, AUSTRAC, and co-creator of ‘Brave Conversations’. “By focusing on how people interact with it and teaching them to be mindful about the way they use it is important to determine the place of technology in one’s life.”

People with technological and non-tech backgrounds were brought together at the IGCF workshop to create a platform for open conversations on the impact of technology.

Anni Rowland-Campbell, co-creator of the workshop and Director, Intersticia, told participants: “It is not the developers of technology who decide on the impact of what they are creating; it is felt by the users and the people on the street.”

Through interactive exercises, participants were made better aware of how to take control of technology and use it in accordance with their needs and to their benefit and advantage.

As part of the workshop series, participants also attended the session titled ‘Future World Challenges’ that showcased the challenges of navigating potential future scenarios via technology. During the session, Professor Dame Wendy Hall, who chairs the Artificial Intelligence Council in the UK, shared her valuable insights on the World Wide Web and the internet.

“Our goal is to make people more aware of technology and the impact it has had on them,” Rowland-Campbell explained. “We want to empower them and make them feel that just because a particular app or platform is widely used or popular, it does not mean that you have to feel compelled to be on it. There are other better ways of doing things.”

“The realisation of what participants can do to change their growing dependence on technology has empowered them to make behavioural shifts in their daily habits and talk about what they can change, and how they can influence the world,” Fry further explained.

The two-day IGCF, organised by the International Government Communication Centre (IGCC) - an initiative of the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), is currently underway at Expo Centre Sharjah, under the theme ‘Challenges and Solutions’. The  programme has a packed agenda that includes seven main discussion sessions, 10 inspiring speeches, six workshops, 13 interactive platforms and 40 side activities. It is being attended by 160 senior public officials, thought leaders and experts, highlighting the role of government communication in overcoming local and global governance challenges, and social and economic crises while highlighting opportunities arising from them.