For sixteen years, as a knowledge sharing project, SBS has explored what the future of science and technology hold through the Seoul Digital Forum and Future Korea Report. Beginning last year, these two forums were integrated into the SBS D Forum, a new platform that considers questions concerning not only technology but also society and culture.
This year’s SBS D Forum marks the second year of this new chapter. I would like to express my sincere congratulations on the opening of another meaningful forum, as well as a special thank-you to President and CEO PARK Jeong Hoon and everyone at SBS for the ways you have helped Korean people think more deeply about pressing issues. I also extend my warm welcome to participants from the National Assembly, members of the media, and visionaries from around the world.
I have been told that the “D” in SBS D Forum stands for multiple ideas: Diversity, Democracy, and Dream. This conveys to me SBS D Forum’s commitment to a similarly holistic examination of key issues from multiple dimensions. Under this year’s theme, “Beginning of Change: Is that REALLY what you think,” the forum invites us to consider how algorithms are influencing what and how we think as individuals. This could not be timelier.
While smartphones and social media have connected us to a vast network of people, this has not translated into exposure to a wider or more varied range of ideas and views. On YouTube and other platforms, algorithms automatically recommend content based on our preferences or what we’ve already consumed. The same kinds of algorithms use our purchasing history or search history to show us advertisements featuring similar products. We are continuously exposed only to things that we like, or opinions we agree with, until before long, we have few channels to encounter ideas different from our own. The result is an acceleration of confirmation bias, the reinforcement of our existing beliefs through selective exposure to only what we want to see and hear.
Change in our society will begin with the simple questions we ask ourselves. “Am I losing the ability to listen to opinions unlike my own?” “Are the views I hold based on my own thoughts or the influence of others?” These are questions we must answer on an ongoing basis. In modern society, our understanding of the world is too often constrained by algorithms and the filters they create. I am grateful to SBS for sounding the alarm and asking the questions that will bring change.
I hope this forum marks a meaningful first step towards greater efforts to listen to those who see things differently and learn to think for ourselves. Congratulations once again, and I look forward to the continued role of SBS D Forum in encouraging civic discourse that allows us to reflect on where we are headed as a society.
October 31, 2019
MOON Jae-in President of the Republic of Korea