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An Imperfect Utopia

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, set in England, describes a “perfect” world created by a Director at the Central London Hatching and Conditioning Centre. At the center children are created from modified embryos and are geared towards certain disposition. While this idea of creating children in bottles and forcing upon them various dispositions and morals may seem far fetched, the practice is not that foreign to current day science. However, the desire to artificially create life shows humans need to claim control over a process in which they once had no control over.

 

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The limits of AI

The film Ex Machina adresses the current subject of artificial intelligence (AI). The film considers a very advanced form of AI in the form of a highly functional AI robot named Ava. Through out the movie it becomes clear that Ava is more capable than her creator, Nathan Bateman, could have anticipated. Ava’s advanced abilities as an artificial being raises concern of the power of AI. However, when thinking about a sequel to the movie questions would arise about the moral capabilities of Ava. Emotions and moral standard are not something that can be manufactured but rather are traits synonymous with human nature.  Continue reading

Technology in the Classroom

With technology becoming an inescapable force upon society it begs the questions as to what are some downfalls of technology. Technology is used for many reasons by various people, from mindlessly scrolling through social media to conducting research; many rely on technology. Over the past few years’ technology has begun to infiltrate the classroom. Technology has become a learning aid for many students in the classroom and has provided helpful support for teachers. However, there are drawbacks to the presence of technology in the classroom. Studies have been conducted to prove such drawbacks. As more and more students are exposed to technology in the classroom researchers have discovered that the amount of students who have learning disabilities has increased.

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Are Liberal Arts Still Alive

After our lecture on Monday I began to think about the ideals behind a liberal arts education. Originally the liberal arts were considered to be logic, grammar and rhetoric. Eventually the liberal arts evolved to include quadrivium, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music. After learning about the origins of a liberal arts degree I began to think about how it applies to a Colby College education. In thinking more about life at Colby I realized that there is in fact a clear divide between the two cultures. However, I do believe there are some exceptions to the cultural divide which has helped to keep the liberal arts alive.

When looking at colleges my search focused on liberal arts schools exclusively. Coming into college i believed that it was important to be well versed in many different concentrations rather than a single subject. While being at Colby I have taken a wide array of classes ranging from classical civilization to extraterrestrial life. While I consider myself to be a more science based thinker, I have still found all of the classes which I have taken to be interesting. However, many people here at Colby take classes which only focuses on the field in which the plan to pursue post graduation. While Colby encourages student to explore new fields and discover new interests many students would rather take classes which only count towards their major or minor.

While students at Colby are often determined to quickly get through their distribution requirements many students never experience a distribution requirement. There are many colleges and universities in which students enroll directly into their desired career path. However, I find it hard to believe that freshman students fully know what they want to pursue a career in without exploring all options. By opting out of taking courses in various departments it prevents students from potentially finding new passions or interests. The ideal of specializing in a single subject seems unrealistic. The reason being that every idea and thought in the world is not a stand alone issues. However, the greatest issues in the world require dynamic thinking and creative problem solving. It is for this reason that students should not be restricted to a single subject but rather should have the chance to learn about various subjects and their effects of society. However, todays education system puts more focus and importance on getting a job after college than becoming a well-rounded individual.

However, when I began to take classes in the Science, Technology, and Society field, I realized that not all students are focused on checking off boxes. In the two STS courses which I have taken during my time at Colby thus far I have found students who interests vary. In the course in which I took over the fall semester, Origins, there were computer science majors interested in creative writing, biology majors interested in refugee resources, and many more insightful students. Students who seek out STS as a field of study often understand that the world cannot be looked at through a single lens. What I began to realize through the courses I have taken in the STS department is that interdisciplinary fields allow for the liberal arts culture to survive.

Aristotle’s Lasting Impact

The world of science and beyond has ben a field, from the beginning, that is controlled by men. Women have constantly had to battle to make their voices and opinions heard. However the questions arises of who set the unleveled playing field for women in society? The answer lies within Aristotle’s view of women.

In Monday’s lecture we discuss Aristotle’s view of women versus man. Aristotle born in 384 BC stated that men were complete beings while women were incomplete males. While Aristotle may have stated this belief thousands of years ago, the message has lived on in modern day society. Women are constantly at a disadvantage in the world wether it be in the job field, in an academic setting, or in a social setting women are often seen as week and inferior to the men around them. One of the greatest examples of a women not being taken seriously due to her gender was in the latest presidential campaign. In the 2016 presidential election, the final candidates Hillary Clinton (D) and Donald Trump (R) were in a race unlike another. The race pitted a veteran politician against a business man and a television personality. After the primaries Trump was not seen as a viable candidate and yet he is now our president. The final few weeks leading up to the election Trump was able to gain momentum in the press and among the people and often times used Clinton’s race against her.

This past election raises the question of why haven’t we had a female president. Trump is now the 45th President of The United States of America and through all 45 presidents Clinton is the only women to make it to final polls. Through all of the media and news reports Clinton was slandered for not being a sensitive enough woman. She was criticized for her cold exterior. However, in order to make it in todays America women are forced to conceal their softer more sensitive side. If women show the slightest tinge of emotion they are ridiculed as being weak. Trump, on the other hand, despite his crass language and lewd actions was still seen as powerful. While this was not an opinion shared by all, it was a strong enough opinion for Trump to be elected into office. Instead of electing a women who has been in politics for most of her career, the public choice a man who seems as though he would command power and demand respect due to his gender and male vibrato.

This past election shows how perception between genders is the driving force in equality. Men are expected to act tough and emotionless while women are expected to be sensitive and caring while not being too vulnerable. This expectations are seen both in our real society and in tv shows and movies as well. In addition newspapers and magazines have upheld such unrealistic ideals. Overall this election along with other gender inequalities in society depict how Aristotle set the unrealistic standard for the way in which males and females are expected to act in society.

The Devolution of Creation

“Frankenstein” , otherwise  referred to as “The Modern Promethius” was published by Mary Shelley in 1818. This novel, which held the initial concept behind the popular genera of science fiction (Sci-Fi) defines the relationship between creator and creation. In the novel, Dr. Frankenstein creates a monster who wreaks havoc on his life and destroys his family. However, the doctor is partially, if not fully to blame for the evil actions of the monster. Dr. Frankenstein’s go complex causes him to be blind to the ramifications of his creation and look past any ethical issues.  Continue reading

Who holds the power?

During our lecture on Monday I began to think about who controls our perception of science? While the basic understandings of science are easy to understand, more complex ideals such as global warming, the big bang theory, and understandings of molecular biology are often topics too complicated for the public to understand. However, when talking about Francis Bacon I began to realize that common scientific theories are constantly changing. One of the greatest examples thats comes to mind is the major shift in thinking in regards to our universe. The greatest shift occurred when we as a society shifted from geocentric to a heliocentric universe. The ability to so easily change our understanding as something so extensive as our universe.

When looking at the history of science it becomes clear that our understanding is constantly changing. There are many reasons as to why our ideals change but new ideas often stem from new technologies and different forward thinking. However changes in knowledge may occur, knowledge alone does not change the history of science. The actual knowledge which an individual obtains is half of what changes our societies perceptions. The other necessary half is power or authority. When looking at scientists through out history, philosophers and scientists who have had major impacts on our society come from a place of wealth and education. However, who gets the final say when it comes to large decisions which alter our perceptions of science and our universe?

When looking back on my experience with science I have always accepted what I’ve been told in classrooms as the truth. Very rarely did I think of alternative solutions or that the facts I were being told were not facts at all but just theories. It was not until I started taking classes in Science, Technology, and Society that I began to question the authority through which I have always understood our universe. However, during the last lecture especially, I realized that our understanding of the universe and everything around us is incredibly fragile. When looking back on what is currently accepted as scientific theory, everything which we have accepted to be true has been built of a singular theory. However, whats to say that everything we know to be true has be built off a lie? In addition while there might be one acceptable approach or main stance towards the way in which our universe functions, there are plenty of people who might not agree with the conventional ideals. A current day controversy which has received a lot of publicity was when Kyrie Iwring, MBA player, came out and announced that he thinks the world is actually flat. While there is proof that the world is in fact not flat, he shows an example of an individual who stood up against an ideal which we as humans are told to believe is true. Iwring uprising against a given fact regarding our universe shows another example of how authority and power plays a large role in our society. Had Iwring not had the title of MBA player or mass publicity behind him, his ideals never would have caught on and few people would have heard about his alternative thinking.

Technology: A Necessary Survival Tool?

When reading David E. Nye’s “Technology Matters” I came across a quote which, I believe, summarizes the role in which technology plays in our society. The quote reads “Technologies are not just objects but also the skills needed to use them.” Nye’s interpretation focuses on the idea that an individual is incapable of using technological devices without a deeper understanding of the way in which they function. I will argue that Nye is incorrect in this belief. Instead I believe that our society has shown that overtime, as our species has become more familiar with technology, the skills we need to operate them becomes instinctive.

When first reading Nye’s writing I began to think not about the technology in which I come into contact with in my daily activities but rather who is behind the screens. In my daily activities I realized that most of the technology which surrounds me has a younger user behind the screen. This common theme made me consider when does one actually learn how to work their devices. Do people read manuals or is the use of technology second nature at this point? I think the answer to this question can be answered simply. Technology has become a part of what makes us human. Due to our heavy reliance on technology we as a species have become so dependent on our devices that we are forced to learn how to use them in order to survive.

Another point which needs to be considered is the generational gap that has formed due to the presence of technology in our society. Tasks such as sending a text or taking a photo can be done in an instant for younger generations. However, as the generations become older in age these tasks are more time consuming and exhausting. The Huffington Post conducted a study to see how adolescents use technology versus how adults prefer to use their devices. What they fond is that the generation gap is “never is it more evident than in the field of technology” and the way in which various age groups depend on technology. Another important thing which stood out from the study is that younger generations not only use their devices more but own more than one device. While elder generations might struggle with the usage of a single device, youngsters “thrive” with the presence of multiple technological devices.

However, while younger generations have become more proficient in the usage of various technological devices, they lack other basic skills. For example, students in elementary school are no longer taught how to write in cursive nor do they know how to write a proper check due to a lack of need. Such basic skills have now been replaced by the presence of technology. In addition, younger generations lack some of the basic social skills which were once common knowledge. For example, when eating in a restaurant if a child is bored during a meal a parent often offers them a technological device rather than a book or crayons. Technology is often seen as the solution to ones problem. However, younger generations have become so dependent to technology that they are ignorant of the downfalls.

 

 

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