Journal 10


As we really begin to get into the subject of memory, I have begun to think about my Great-Grandmother who died from Alzheimer’s. She was about 80 when she died and my last and only memory of her before her funeral is from when I was about 6 or 7 years old when we visited her in the hospital. Although I do not remember much from the trip, I do remember the sort of blank way that she looked at us, as if not knowing or truly caring who we were. However, I do remember the way in which she clung onto my Great-Grandfather’s arm from her wheelchair. Alzheimer’s is a very curious disease and is one that I would never wish on anyone. Even dementia and being unable to place faces or even your surroundings is something that terrifies me. Although, in part, our ability to forget keeps us sane, I believe also that our ability to remember faces, experiences, and more keeps us sane as well. It is a tricky balance.
I pride myself in having a good memory. I self-proclaim myself as one that “never forgets a face,” when in reality I have found myself recently whether someone in one of my lecture classes has been there all year when they stand up to do a presentation. Diseases like Alzheimer’s and other conditions reminds us that memory is fickle and something that we should not take for granted. In the Buried Giant, Axl continues to use others to place himself and them in the sort of puzzle of his life; there is no real way without their help that Axl could function. This sort of dependence is terrifying in itself and although I am not completely through with the book I wonder whether someone comes to take advantage of this dependence if they are not already.

Journal 9

Journal 9

Memento was a very interesting movie. It’s HAPAX, the way in which it had two concurrent plot lines that functioned in opposite directions was very hard to grasp initially, but in the end worked to function much like the main character’s condition. As I mentioned in class on Thursday, ever since we entered elementary school and even kindergarten, we have been taught to think of stories in an arc, with a beginning, middle, and end. In between the beginning, middle, and end lies the rising action and climax of the plot. However, Memento seems to disregard this traditional story arc, as the two opposite faces story lines meet in the middle. This was very disorienting and left me feeling unsettled.
Thinking back on the movie, and connecting it to Professor Perrone’s thoughts on computers, I have come to the conclusion that Leonard’s life does work much like a function, where he is given a state, it is processed by means of the algorithmic function, and a new state is generated. This state is made clear by his tattoos and the mementos that he carries around, but he is unable to know any previous states. As Professor Drexler pointed out, this makes him walk the line between a human and a robot, where his life is determined by the mementos, but he is able to take them and make his own decisions after processing them. He is, however, able to remember the emotions behind the mementos, which makes him more human then robot and is the main caveat in his condition. It makes me wonder whether, then, like Sammy Jankis, whether the condition is more constructed then reality and a true coping technique for dealing with the death of his wife.

Journal 7

ournal 7

This week was a very interesting one. I had been pondering the project without any real guideline presented after I agreed to work with Ashton and Jubal. I began to think about the general themes of the class, those of theories of ethics, machine ethics, robotics, and work. Initially, unsure about the design of the project altogether, I began to think about last semester. Last semester, I took a philosophy 100 class. This class entitled God, Humans, and Animals, is one that I have talked about before and forms the basis of my general knowledge of some ethical theories. My professor, Gary Steiner, is an expert in the field on animal rights and animal ethics. This class focused on an overview of religious theory, an exploration of human rights theories, and lastly focused on exploring animal ethics.
Although, not a direct correlation, one of my ideas for the project was to dive back into the world of animal ethics, connecting it to robotics, radical anxiety termination, and the labor class. This would allow us to connect the ideas of Asimov and Delaney with the current place of animals in our society. Are the RATs used the same as animals are in our current society? Do they fill similar roles? How is this similar or different from the institution of slavery in the 1800s? These questions fluttered through my mind.
In the end, we decided upon the project topic of Brain-to-brain interfaces, a topic that is extremely interesting and seems almost magical. The idea that two or maybe even more people perceive what each other is thinking is one that I thought was only a notion of science fiction. I am very excited to dive into this topic and connect it in turn to ethics and memory.

Journal 6

Journal 6
Sexuality is a prominent theme that runs through Delaney’s Stars in my Pocket like Grains of Sand. In his world, rules, regulations, and computer programs govern the dating life of the humans within the society. Although these rules seem to limit the sexual exploits of the people and Evelmy in the society, the Sygn also allows for homosexuality and interspecies relationships. Moreover, gender in their society is not tied to sex, but rather an indicator of sentience and desire. In this day in age, although the world is becoming more open and accepting of those that do not align with traditional sexuality and gender preference, we still have a long way to go until the world looks more like Delaney’s then our current society.
It took a while for me to grasp and understand the gender pronouns and the societal structure as it pertained to sexuality throughout the novel, however, eventually I began to wonder whether Delaney’s ideas are not out of reach. Although, unless some closely related species to humans is discovered, I do not believe that there will come a time when humans engage in interspecies relationships, the world is moving towards the general consensus that both sexuality and gender is a spectrum or continuum. This idea, if widely adopted, is the first step to abandoning gender as it pertains to sex and adopting alternate meanings for “he” and “she” as Delaney describes in the novel.
It will be interesting to see where the world arrives within my lifetime on the topic and policies surrounding sexuality.

Andrews Journal 5

Journal 5
I think sometimes people forget how much robots, in general, play a part in everyday life. As someone who hopes to go into the medical field has gotten a major surgery (ACL) in my lifetime, every time I look at the scar on my knee or participate in shadowing opportunities when I am home, I am reminded on how much robots have revolutionized medicine. Robots have made medicine more specialized, accurate, and less invasive. Robots continue to prove to many medical professionals that they are the best way to ensure the health of their patients and success of their procedures and those medical professionals who have not adapted their uses have largely been left in the dust.
However, when it comes to the development of humanoid robots that will be in charge of making ethical decisions, my stance differs severely. As I expressed on Thursday, I believe that one of the greatest gifts of humanity, the primary way (that we know of right now) as to how we differ from animals, is our ability to grapple with different ethical scenarios, have a firm conception of justice, and have opinions that can be changed through the acquisition of knowledge. I do not believe that there is or will ever be a sort of ideal formula when it comes to ethical situations, for humans are fickle and every decision that we make does not only take into account our conscious thoughts, but also our previously held unconscious judgments. Robots require programming, which means that they would at least have be able to calculate different ethical considerations that humans figured were the best theories to implement. An objective robot is programmed subjectively. Therefore, how can I trust it to make ethical decisions? There is so much more to this world than what formulas can solve. A situation that we continue to consider is the robotic car scenario in which a self-driving car must decide to kill the driver, crash into a minivan full of kids, or kill a motorcyclist. A robot, even with a face recognition system installed that may give it some insight into the past of the people involved has no way to predict the future.