UW Retirement Association

What’s the Big Idea?

What’s the Big Idea programs are discussions about a hot current topic with an expert to facilitate. There is no formal presentation; rather, the experts throw out provocative questions and participants are invited to respond. Prior to the program, participants are referred to readings on the topic to help spur their thinking.

Groups currently meet online using Zoom. In order to encourage discussion, groups are kept small and preregistration is essential. Registration for each discussion opens two weeks prior to the event. Click the ‘Register’ button below or on the event post on the UWRA calendar.  (Click HERE for information on how to join a Zoom meeting.)

COMING DISCUSSION – to be held using Zoom


Wednesday, April 7 | 10:30 a.m. | REGISTER NOW

Facilitator: Alan Borning, UW professor emeritus of computer science and engineering

Is your personal information, even your image, permanently compromised for the sake of greater profits in the marketplace? If you’ve ever noticed that, moments after searching for a particular product while shopping online, you see that same product pop up in advertisements on Facebook, you’ve experienced surveillance capitalism first hand. In the words of Shoshana Zuboff, the Harvard University emeritus professor who coined the term, “Surveillance capitalists have demanded the right to take our faces wherever they appear — on a city street or a Facebook page. The Financial Times reported that a Microsoft facial recognition training database of 10 million images plucked from the internet without anyone’s knowledge and supposedly limited to academic research was employed by companies like IBM and state agencies that included the United States and Chinese military.” What does the nearly ubiquitous use of our images and our personal information mean for our future? Is there any way of rolling back this particular advance of technology? Does it matter?

Professor Borning has done extensive research in this field.

Suggested Reading


Contact UWRA for more information.