Robert Rowland Smith

Robert Rowland Smith

Author and Philosopher

Humans v Tech: who holds the power?

Session Overview

Historically power struggles have taken place between human beings. Now humans find themselves in a power struggle with the technology that they themselves have created. Who will win?

That question is fundamental but it is also a distraction from a third type of power, which is the power over ourselves.

Sometimes this power over ourselves is itself dangerous. It can result in excessive self-control, limiting beliefs, the repressing of our emotions, and the fear of our own potential.

However, there is an alternative way of using the power we have over ourselves. Paradoxically it requires us to give up a sense of control so that we are more open. This is the power to embrace what we do not know, the power to stand in the space of uncertainty in order to receive something new and to learn.

Yes, we can choose to fight with tech, to be either fearful of it or to master it. But that outer power struggle is not as vital as the struggle within ourselves to identify the limits we have unconsciously accepted and to dissolve them.

Speaker's biography

Robert Rowland Smith spent the first part of his career as a Prize Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and the second as a partner in a leading firm of management consultants. 


He has published on philosophy, literature and psychoanalysis, including Derrida and Autobiography; and is the author of two books, ‘Breakfast with Socrates’ and the follow up ‘Driving with Plato.’  He has lectured at universities throughout the UK, France, Norway, and California; in the 1990s the British Council invited him on a lecture tour of the new Europe. He was closely involved with the Amnesty Lectures that brought the world’s most famous thinkers to Oxford, and was fortunate enough to count Jacques Derrida among his friends.