Author/Traveler Pico Iyer Coming to UC San Diego, May 15 to Discuss “Weapons of Mass Distraction”

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Does technology make our lives better? Or more chaotic?

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Pico Iyer

It’s not that I have anything against technology. It’s more that I don’t trust myself with it. I find that being free of all that is kind of a luxury.

Essayist, novelist and world adventurer Pico Iyer will address his doubts about technology at an upcoming presentation puckishly titled, “Weapons of Mass Distraction: Keeping our Sanity and Balance in a High-Speed, Displacing World,” set for Thursday, May 15, at UC San Diego.

Free and open to the public, the presentation starts at 7 pm, in the UC San Diego Price Center East Ballroom. Iyer’s talk is presented by UC San Diego Extension, as part of the Helen Edison Lecture Series.

Peter Gourevitch, founding dean of the UC San Diego School of International Relations and Pacific Studies and distinguished professor emeritus of political science, will serve as moderator.

“It’s not that I have anything against technology,” Iyer said in a recent interview. “It’s more that I don’t trust myself with it. I find that being free of all that is kind of a luxury. My life – and my head – seem much less cluttered.”

Iyer likes to refer to himself as “a global village on two legs,” having lived a peripatetic whirl since his childhood.

Born in England to Indian parents, Iyer, 57, spent his formative years in Berkeley, where his father was a professor at UC Berkeley. Educated at Oxford and Harvard, he became an accomplished journalist and has long been a frequent contributor to TIME, Harper’s, The New York Times and many of the world’s leading publications.

“By the time I was 9 years ago, I was going back and forth over the North Pole six times a year by myself,” he said. “So in some ways, I’ve never stopped traveling. Travel became my second home, the place where I feel really comfortable.”

More than 40 years of travel across five continents has forged his prolific writing, which includes ten books that detail his experiences in places as diverse as Cuba, North Korea, Ethiopia, Paraguay, Nepal, Argentina, and Easter Island, to name just a handful.

Iyer divides his time between Santa Barbara (“that’s home, where I pay my taxes”) and rural Japan, admitting he’s “ever grateful” for the convenience of jet travel.

“What I’ve learned in my travels is how little we know,” he added. “Yet I’ve always found that travel is the best way to be reminded of that.”

About UC San Diego Extension ( As the continuing education and public programs arm of the university, UC San Diego Extension educates approximately 63,000 enrollees a year, which translates to about 33,000 students in nearly 4,300 courses. UC San Diego Extension is recognized nationally and internationally for linking the public to expert professionals and the knowledge resources of the University of California.

Media Contact:
John Freeman, UC San Diego Extension
o) 858-534-9955
e) jbfreeman(at)ucsd(dot)edu

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