Journal 8: April 28

We often create new technology just because we can not necessarily because there is a need for it. This course has made me look deeper into technology that seems to be inevitable.

On one hand some of these technologies can be unnerving. It’s almost easier to just to sit back and let technology develop unhindered but it gets to a point where it threatens our existence and challenges what it means to be human. We aren’t completely sure how the brain works yet but still we keep trying to create technology to give ourselves the perfect memory. Integrating humans with AI would further complicated our definition of human.

On the other hand these technologies could mean a more connected and equal world. People often disagree or are offended by someone else’s way of life because they can’t understand that person’s life experiences. If people were able to access all the available information at any given time like in Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand then we might see our society become more understanding of other ideas and lifestyles.

Technology will continue to develop no matter what but we can still decide what kinds of technology we allow to come into existence. If we are careful we could bring people together and create a better future but if we don’t have discussions about the potential faults we may find ourselves in a world where we serve no purpose.     

Journal 7: April 26

Singularity is defined as the point at which a function reaches an infinite value. In humans this point is approaching for our information and technology. In the TED talk on Memes and “temes” Susan Blackmore talks about memetics and how information has an evolutionary algorithm the same way organic matter does. The pessimistic view of the future of humanity sheds an important light on how our technology isn’t always the positive that we think it is. While most people view technology as a way to improve our existence, it could actually cause the downfall of humans. It poses the question of whether or not we should be putting time and research into technology that could potentially cause us harm.


The idea of a perfect memory is an example of this. In class we talked about how no one wants perfect memory but it seems to be inevitable. Unfortunately most people don’t think critically about the development of technology beyond the immediate benefits. The idea of forgetting is viewed in a negative light most of the time but really it’s a necessary part of our existence. The personification of information helps understand how our development of new technology isn’t always positive. We need to keep thinking critically about new technology beyond just whether or not we can create something. Discussions need to be held in order to determine if we are willing to foot the costs.

Journal 6: April 26

Black Mirror’s episode The Entire History of You showed a possibility of a world with perfect memory using futuristic technology implanted into the brain. As the episode showed this could cause considerable problems with the way people interact with one another. No one could forget events unless they purposefully deleted the memory. People would be able to constantly look into one another’s past experiences and very little privacy would remain. Any mistake that you made could be held against you for the rest of your life even if you had changed considerably since then.


This not only could cause social problems but psychological problems as well. Being able to forget about traumatic or painful experiences is very important to a person’s mental wellbeing. The inability to forget a traumatic memory is one of the key components of PTSD. It could be beneficial for the person to be able to delete the memory mechanically when the brain refuses to forget it. However this would assume that the traumatic was not also stored in the organic brain. This brings up the issue of what is stored in the organic brain and what is stored on the electronic device. If everything is stored in the device and nothing is stored in the organic brain then the person would never be able to stop use of the device.  


This form of visual memory storage is actually very different from the way our brains store memories. Our brains do not actually store a memory as an image like this episode’s futuristic technology does but rather as a series of electrical signals. Not only that but different types of memory are stored in different parts of the brain. Though we have a better understanding of how memory is stored it is not fully known exactly where different types of memories are stored. Without knowing exactly how the brain works this type of system could potentially cause problems in the function and development of the brain. If the device was implanted at birth like it seems to be in the episode of Black Mirror is could hinder the development of the brain further enhancing the inability to discontinue use of the device.


Our memories make us who we are. Each person has different experiences from one another and each one teaches us something different. Being able to delete a memory could change the way you look at the world and how you react. Though it may seem like a nice thing to be able to remember your 3rd birthday party the risks is poses would greatly outweigh the benefits. 

Journal 5: Feb 28

The first episode of Humans we watched in class today directly related to Isaac Asimov’s Bicentennial Man and Caves of Steel. Synths have become a big part of this society for doing all kinds of work. Some people like Laura are much more wary of the idea. Laura doesn’t like when Anita is introduced into her home because she feels like Anita is taking her job away. Her daughter even says that her grades in school and all her hard work won’t actually matter because synths will just replace humans in the workplace completely. Synths being able to feel and act more like humans than ever before appears to be very concerning for Hobb as he is talking with Robert after getting hold of a synth named Fred. He is greatly concerned about how this could mean that robots could fully replace humans in every aspect of human life and thus there would be no need for humans at all. Asimov’s Caves of Steel the city of New York is against the integration of robots because they also believe that robots will take over all the jobs and leave them without any. This is also becoming an issue in our society as more and more jobs, such as assembly lines and factory storage, become automated. We have already seen the effects of what happens when an industry when it becomes automated. While it is cheaper to use robots than hire workers it leaves thousands of people out of a job.

In the episode we see that some one the synths were able to feel and think closer to how humans think. The first time we see this is when Leo is in the woods on the run with four synths that appear to be highly important or valuable. He kisses Anita on the forehead indicating that he loved her which he confirms later in the episode. Anita although she is a synth she is able to feel human emotions. In the Bicentennial Man Andrew is capable of human emotions and feelings but is treated much differently than humans just like these synths are treated in the show. They are used as a tool which seems totally fine until the become sentient beings and it becomes more of a type of slavery.


Journal 4: Feb 17

In Asimov’s Bicentennial Man the scene that struck me the most was when Andrew was on his way to the library and the two men come up to him. They tell him to take his clothing off because he is a robot and shouldn’t being wearing clothes and want to disassemble Andrew. I immediately connected this scene with slavery and racism. These two men thought that Andrew was below them because he was a robot but fail to recognize that Andrew is a sentient being very similar to themselves. Despite being free Andrew is still forced to listen to the orders of these two men even though it would destroy him. He and his rights are less protected than the two men who attack him on the street. This reminded me of the Jim Crow laws that kept power over former slaves even after they were freed. This story looks at the rights of a sentient being, which in this case is a robot, and the prejudices of a society.

From our point of view the actions of the two men on the street are despicable. We have the privilege of knowing that Andrew thinks and feels the same way humans do. These two men are displaying pretty clearly the fear that is held by society towards robots. They don’t think of robots as intelligent sentient beings because they view robots as a tool to be used for their own gain.

This story will become more and more relevant as our technology in robotics and artificial intelligence becomes more advanced. The laws of robotics will need to be carefully examined and adapt as the technology adapts.