Paige Philipps Humans Journal Entry

We have learned in class the true danger that robots can have in the world. Robotics, as smart and helpful as it appears to be, can be a major threat to humanity. In science fiction medias, such as TV show Humans, we have been exposed to such. Robots are capable of far more than simply making human existence easier, but such technological potential threatens human labor. Humans, the science-fiction television series created by Sam Vincent, portrays a world where synthetic robots are easily accessible and widely popular. A newly welcomed robot/nanny, Anita, is beginning to feel comfortable around the Hawkins’ family and house. Mother, Laura, begins to feel a bit threatened by Anita’s ability to run the household with such ease and joy. Laura’s perception of robots is a paradox because she is not relieved, but anxious. Laura is skeptical of and inferior to Anita, as she is losing her responsibilities, duties, and place to the synthetic robot. Through Laura’s anxiety we are forced to question the value of a human and human life, if a robot is able to perform all of the same tasks and jobs perfectly and effortlessly. Having a machine that can replace all humans in their work, whether necessary or not, can be immoral by prizing efficiency of human value and worth over identity. The show portrays the potential threat to our lives, as we know it. Through the introduction of robotics, specifically ones that look exactly as we do (but perfect), we are forced to question the moral and global issues that can arise. Such as…can robots completely outsource humans?

Almost every application of technology and robotics is a tradeoff.  Robotics have become so advanced that its’ versatile functions, intrusive behaviors, and brilliant proficiencies are powerful enough to devalue humans if we give it the opportunity to takeover.

Paige Philipps Momento Journal Entry

In Memento, Leonard is burdened with severe memory loss that prevents him from discovering who murdered his wife.  Leonard hangs onto several key memories that his memory loss does not affect.  In order to remember key events, Leonard keeps notes and tattoos of his most important events on his body.  Leonard’s memory, however, is highly impressionable and therefore, he cannot remember what happened on a day-to-day basis and he can be influenced by those around him.  This is seen with Teddy.  The viewer is unsure of whether to trust Teddy because it is not clear whether or not he is trying to mislead Leonard or not.  One of the main points of the plot lies within Leonard’s identity.  Due to his lack of memory he is unable to maintain a stable identity. He can be shaped by anything around him.  Memory is central to all of us and it defines who we are through the people we meet and events we experience.  Without our memories of individual events, we have nothing to hold on to that makes us individuals, or therefore contribute to humanity.  The movie brings into perspective the significance of memory, and furthermore the potential influence that technology can have on our memory, when it starts doing things that our memory once did.  Like keeping notes and reminders in our phones instead of our heads.  We begin to rely on technology and risk the significance of humanity and human life and purpose.

Paige Philipps Final Journal Entry

By the end of the course, I began to reflect on my life up until now with regards to technology.  I have decided to reflect on an experience/experiment that I took on in high school.  I had decided to resist from all use of technology for two weeks.

“It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later,” I whispered.  I kissed it and placed it upside down in my drawer.  To avoid any temptation, I even folded it into the pockets of my gray flannel pajamas.  I expected to be in mourning after the short and painful farewell. Instead, I stood there asking myself: now what? I was a teenage girl about to take on the world… phoneless.

I had been eager to connect to my thoughts, my life, and myself and the only way to do this was to disconnect.  Untouched, isolated, and dusty, my phone rested in my drawer for two weeks.  I have never felt more connected with my inner self than I had during that time.  I spent several days, without distraction, preparing for my midterms.  I had time to consider the conflicts among my friends and how I should proceed in the respective situations.  Right before my eyes, life began recreating itself: sounds were clearer, emotions were stronger, and colors were brighter.

Technology had seemed to make life so simple with fast communication, efficient documentation, and effortless organization.  However, I created a challenge for myself to look past the omnipotent and intangible world of technology.  In doing so, I recognized the hardest part was breaking out of the imaginary bubble.  I had to make new efforts to connect with teachers, communicate with my boss, and coordinate my schedule. To my surprise, having face-to-face conversations was refreshing and I only needed to make minor changes in my day-to-day life to achieve what phone technology previously had for me.

In our world, we have become to accustomed to and reliant upon technology that we seem to lose some characteristics of humanity.  Perhaps more people should experience such degree of “disconnect” to realize the true significance and importance in “connecting”.

Paige Philipps Journal Entry 2.17.17

Culture is Cultural Relativism. Cultures are more or less unique (although similar ideas may exist, each culture has different ways of applying meaning and significance to whatever the diffusing cultural phenomena may be). A culture should be understood on its own terms, through observations and experiences of the individuals and groups making up the culture. Cultural meanings and internal logics differ among cultures and within the context of the cultural system the meanings and logics make should perfect sense.

In a Cultural Anthropology course I once took, we learned of the Azande culture through the perspective of a foreign anthropologist who was new to the culture. There are many ways in which the world can be thought about and interpreted, the idea of whether or not such perspectives are rational heavily rely on the culture of that person. Humans, by our own nature, are “meaning makers”, evident by the Azande interpretations and justifications. The Azande society attributes misfortune, failure, disaster, and sickness to witchcraft, when all possibilities of personal and technical error are disregarded. Ethnographer, Pritchard, had a very difficult time understanding and making sense of the Azande rationality and reasoning, as he has a different cultural background. Cultural relativism suggests that a culture should be understood on its own terms, through observations and experiences of the individuals and groups making up the culture, which is exactly what Pritchard experienced. Most cultures have different values, traditions, practices, religion, technology and more all of which lead to culture-specific meanings.

However, as we discussed in class, there are justifications both for and against cultural relativism. Pros are the different social contexts that demand different moral guidelines, and one society should not have the right to judge another. While cons include: societies’ mores don’t agree, it should mean that they should disagree, and how can we discern right from wrong if there are no cultural norms?

In the story The Bicentennial Man, by Isaac Asimov, an issue with cultural relativism arises. Things that made perfect sense in the human culture made very little sense in the robot culture, creating not only a very split society, but also an unjust one. At the end of the story, the robot Andrew ends up getting surgery, that makes him human, which causes brain decay and ends up killing him. Is the detrimental event one that should be taken in order for the robots to assimilate in society and be treated as an equal? Although the humans and robots are so similar, to the point where they are often hard to differentiate (evident from the Turning Test), they are still subjected to different rights and unequal rights.

Not all groups of people have the same thought process or the same way of thinking and interpreting life and its’ meanings. Rational ways of thinking and meanings are completely different among different cultures but if they start to impede on human rights and equality, then cultural relativism is not a fair justification. Even if it is hard to understand, a culture that is not one’s own should not be treated as less, belittled, or even questioned.

Paige Philipps Journal Entry 3

While recapping Mark Twain’s novel, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, an idea that one of my peers brought up really caught my attention. The Allegory of the Cave tells a story about knowledge and how reasoning and experience both have the ability to give power or hinder it. In Twain’s novel the whole 6th century was afraid of people being able to read. A prominent idea was that of transformation of knowledge from book to understanding, as reading is power. It is one thing to be able to read, and it is another to apply knowledge and experience to the real world. Perhaps, those of higher power, such as Hank Morgan, fear people gaining technology and knowledge because they would be an invasion to the everyday world that they seem so accustomed to.

I find this idea of knowledge is power to be so relevant in today’s world. A course I took last year at Bucknell, Education 101, spoke a lot about the relevance of education and power in modern-day America. A foundational idea from an article we read, the Reform, Innovation, and Revolution in Education, discusses a theme that improves and transforms education in the United States: Connecting Learning approach. The main idea of this educational revolution entails integrating three categories of learning that are often disconnected: peer culture, interests, and academic content. Such an approach is promising in bettering United States’ education because students would be powered and motivated by their own interests, which would improve one’s overall learning outcomes as well as their societal outcomes. The importance of building high quality forms of culture and knowledge is not emphasized as strongly as it should be in modern-day education.  In addition, a Connecting Learning approach to education would incline students to be more involved and experienced in and with society.

The recent walkout, on January 31, gave students (and faculty) the opportunity to bring forward culture and interest as well as academic aspects. President’s Trump executive order banning Muslim refugees and Immigrants to the US seems to be an outrageous gesture, one that is taking us back in time…rather than progressing the country. I call upon this event as an example of knowledge being power. Knowing what Trump is doing to our country and having a plethora of resources to educate ourselves on the topic is both a good and bad thing. Although many people agree and shared their voices in their walkout, I believe there were also hidden voices that thought that such event was an unnecessary and even a waste of academic time. These views are not my own, but I am using this hypothetical concept to emphasize that our power through knowledge may have been seen as out of order and even feared by people in positions of higher authority, both locally and globally.

Lastly, Hank Morgan sparked a discussion regarding technologies ability to be for a good force or even a bad one. In the novel, we read of technology and how it evolved from helpful to dangerous. Something that was once used as a power of savior and protection became a weapon. Technology is dangerous. Not only to its’ radioactive waves make it a physical danger, but also the never-ending circulation of gossip and media can take a toll on a person mentally. Education is power, and technology may be too. The importance is to not lose sight of the core purposes of education and technology and not take for granted to power we gain from them.