‘We have to learn how to use technology without letting technology use us’

Elizabeth Diaz is a mobile app developer who has built apps for Google Play store, Amazon, and Apple to help kids learn how to read and write in Spanish and English. Her passion is about developing social justice applications. Elizabeth is the acting Minister of Youth and Education of Asgardia. In an interview with Asgardia Space News, she explains why artificial intelligence could not enslave humanity and how to live without smartphones, and shares her plans to develop a virtual multilingual educational system in Asgardia.

Could you share your dreams about space?

My dream is to be able to stop imagining what space is like and actually see it. My dream is just to find out what’s out of there, what kind of research we can conduct based on spatial data, how it can help us learn more about the universe, about black holes. To stop imagining and just see. I prefer to work on things myself, not just read about them.

Technological progress is constantly evolving — now, we can talk on the phone and communicate via video chat at a distance of thousands of kilometers. What do you think the next stage of human communication will be? Maybe telepathy? 

It might be that we already have telepathy and just have to massify it like the other type of communications. We had internet since 1960s, and it was not until the 90s that people found out about it.

How do you imagine the future of artificial intelligence? Do you think AI can outsmart than humans?

Artificial intelligence could not enslave all humanity, because we human beings are the creators of artificial intelligence. We will always have one better idea to stay ahead of what is being predicted. The future of artificial intelligence is just predicting or imposing more on human beings based on our preferences. We must move out of that zone.

You are a mobile app developer and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering at University of Texas, Arlington. What mobile apps have you developed?

I am a social justice developer, making sure that everyone knows how to read, making sure that we know how to pronounce everyone’s name. People’s names are their identity, their culture. We should acknowledge them. The name of the app is Sayitright University. At this time, the app is only available to my students, but we are currently expanding it. In 2016, I was working at the University of Central Missouri, and on the main page of their website it said that students will be called out by name on the first day of class. But when I looked at my roster, I realized I couldn’t pronounce any of the names. I tried my best, but my students, most of whom were from India, would just giggle. That is how I got the idea. I have been using the app in my classes, and the students love it. I have 200 students this semester, and all of them from India and China.

Imagine that you lost your mobile phone and found yourself on a desert island without communication and Internet. How do you imagine life without smartphones? How much time can you spend offline?

I lived for a long time without internet and without a smartphone. We are just addicted to those because we, developers, build technology with that intention. We have to find ourselves. We have to learn to live with the smartphones and with people. We have to learn how to use technology without letting technology use us.

How did you first learn about the existence of Asgardia? 

I read an article online, only about eight months ago.

What drove you to become a Minister of Youth and Education of Asgardia?

I had the opportunity to choose between different ministries, but Youth and Education is extremely challenging. And it has the opportunity to unite citizens through one common education for so many different cultures.

Can you share some plans for the near future? What are the main goals of your work? How will you educate Asgardians?

I do believe that this is one of the toughest areas where we will really have to see all our citizens as one unity. We have to put aside our original citizenships. We have to develop a unique virtual multilingual educational system. Our lessons will happen on tablet screens, not in classrooms. At the same time, we must make sure that we raise sensitive human beings. We must teach our citizens to use technology and not to be used by technology. How? By using all the sensors that our smartphones have.

What do you think should be included in Asgardia’s education program? 

Besides teaching respect and acceptance of equality principles, we should teach citizens as many languages as possible, in addition to art, computer science, mathematics and culture.

In your opinion, what is the idea that unites all Asgardians in the world?

Unity. Acknowledgement of each and every human being.

Could you please share your feelings about how your involvement with Asgardia changed your life? How much time do you dedicate to your work at Asgardia? 

Since I started talking to people from Asgardia, I realized that there are so many people who think like I do. I am just one drop in the ocean. Together, we are the ocean. I spend a lot of time making plans [for Asgardia] and thinking how about making them a reality as soon as possible.

How do you see the future of Asgardia?

I see Asgardia as a foundation for many other space nations to come. Asgardia will always be recognized as pioneer of new means of education and communication.

In your opinion, what are the most commonly anticipated events that will occur in Asgardia in 2019?

Being recognized as a nation just like any other. Being able to be identified as a citizen of Asgardia with all the benefits and respect as any other citizen in the world.

Any final words you’d like to share with all Asgardians?

I am so happy to be a member of this unpredictable community. I am as impressed and proud as any of you.