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For immediate release
February 22, 2001
Jessamyn Sarmiento, NPR

Radio Explores Technology's Effect on the Human Condition

Seattle, WA - As part of The Changing Face of America series, Talk of the Nation from NPR News and KUOW 94.9 FM will take a closer look at how technology has changed everyday life. On Thursday, February 22, in a two-hour live broadcast from A Contemporary Theatre in Seattle, Talk of the Nation host Juan Williams and special guests probe the age-old question - are we really better off today, with regard to technological progress, than we were 50, 100, even 1000 years ago?

From the plow to the automobile, from the dark ages to the age of enlightenment, technological innovations have long promised a more civilized existence and liberation from grinding work. In Talk of the Nation's first hour, Williams and guests discuss how technology is changing the way we live our lives and look at how the impact of the technological revolution could compare to that of the agricultural and industrial ages.

Guests in the first hour are: Rob Glaser, founder and CEO of RealNetworks; Senator Maria Cantwell; Ed Lazowska, Computer Science and Engineering department chair at the University of Washington in Seattle; and, Ellen Ullman, software engineer, technology writer and author of Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents.

In the program's second hour, the talk will focus on what it means to be "human" in light of cutting-edge technology that enables us to create and rearrange the building blocks of nature. Advances in technology have helped humans live stronger and longer and allowed us to dominate over all other species on earth. But now some researchers say we could be on the verge of creating beings that evolve and replace humans in the coveted top spot on the hierarchy. What could this mean for the future of humankind?

Guests in the second hour are: Greg Bear, science fiction writer and author of Darwin's Radio; Rick Rashid, chief of research for Microsoft Corp.; and, Dr. Lee Hartwell, president and director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and professor of genetics at the University of Washington.

As part of The Changing Face of America series from NPR News, Talk of the Nation broadcasts live, once a month, from a city where important issues facing the community illuminate American life in the year 2001. The Changing Face of America series is supported by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Renowned for its journalistic excellence and standard-setting news, information and cultural programming, NPR serves a growing audience of nearly 15 million Americans each week via more than 644 public radio stations. NPR also distributes programming to listeners in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa via NPR Worldwidesm, to military installations overseas via American Forces Network, and throughout Japan via cable.