Week 2 summary

I specifically spent the week focused on robots, developing from week 1. Looking over the week two key themes seem to have emerged in my unconsciousness. Firstly, dystopian/utopian binary perspectives of robots in society, both now and in the future. Secondly, the human/machine interface and the ethics of the blurred line between them.

Dystopian/Utopian

My tweets showed examples of how the media continues to portray future technology (robots in this case) as either good or evil. The evil focuses on the replacement of human jobs by robots, rarely discussing the finer details – if robots replaced x element of the role what would that free up the human to do that requires unique human traits. Unfortunately, as discussed during the film festival this is likely due to the continuing focus of our society on money/profit. Humans are replaced when a cost saving is on the cards not because it is necessarily the best solution for end users/customers. I see the parallel with education when technology is promoted and rolled out based on financial considerations of the institution not the benefit of students (or even staff).

The balance of this is the grabbing headlines of technology that will result in amazing medical breakthroughs. The last of these stories definitely had more than a hint of the cyborg with the glove for Parkinson patients.

Blurring the lines

My second theme is still unclear in my head so I will continue to work through this over the coming week. Essentially, the film festival clips and discussion in combination with the Cyborg Manifesto (Harraway) has brought the issue of minorities and marginalisation to the fore in my mind. I covered my cyborg self in a post in the beginning of the week and the film clips took this further with futuristic cyborgs, all of varying human/machine makeup. I do worry (even more so after the events of recent months) that anyone outside of society’s accepted norm will be abused in one form or another and that includes our increasing cyborg selves. I believe that cyborg will one day join the list with with gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, colour. Also, how do(will) these human prejudices affect the development of cyborgs?

Cyborg self: Will I one day turn on my coffee machine from my bed with just thoughts in my brain?

Not wanting to end on a negative note the boiling kettle at the start of A Manifesto for Cyborg Pedagogy? triggered in my head my need for coffee to get me started each day and wondering how the process will change in the future. The slow, steady blurring of the boundaries over time.

References

Angus, T., Cook, I. and Evans, J. (2001) A manifesto for cyborg pedagogy? International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education . 10(2): 195-201.

Haraway, Donna (2007) A cyborg manifesto from Bell, David; Kennedy, Barbara M (eds), The cybercultures reader pp.34-65, London: Routledge.

One Reply to “Week 2 summary”

  1. Superb summary post here Clare!

    You are referencing and explaining specific lifestream content, and drawing together relevant and interesting themes. Nice work.

    Hand’s ‘narratives of promise and threat’ paper in this blocks readings will reflect your utopian and dystopian themes, as would Johnston’s ‘Salvation or destruction: Metaphors of the Internet’, a bit of a classic if you ask me: http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2370

    I think you centre in on a rather productive critical perspective here: when we continue to see technology as utopian (it is making our lives better) or dystopian (it is challenging our authentic humanness), we often miss important analytical frames. The relationship between ‘Ed Tech’ and business is certainly a critical perspective that is often overlooked.

    Really interesting reflection on marginalisation here too. I wonder if we couldn’t see the opposite here too? If the cyborg is about enhancement, wouldn’t its technological mixings be limited to those that can afford them? The ‘digital divide’ might also encompass those who are affluent enough to be ‘enhanced’. Aren’t those that can use search engines on their mobile devices already hugely advantaged in terms of getting hold of information and knowledge?

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