Week 2 Summary

Week two has primarily been focused on the ethical concerns of new technologies. A paper by Amy DeBaets (2011) led me to a greater understanding of how transhumanist perspectives sit across the political spectrum. It was interesting to learn that it is quite possible to be technologically progressive but politically (economically) conservative. Introspection of moral imperatives continued through analysis of Ghost in the Shell, review of discussion between Joi Ito, Scott Dadich and Barack Obama on the moral programming decisions of self-driving cars, and the cultural implications of ‘perfect’ female robots for human female body image. I explored the ethical discomfort further through examination of robot use in Japan, and my subsequent reading of Jenniffer Robbinson’s article on Human Rights vs Robot rights.

Lifestream feeds this week were primarily concentrated upon building community. I’ve been there for peers, offering to test IFTTT streams – it’s strange to see because generally I see myself as less technologically able. I do seem to be able to troubleshoot, mind..  a core educational area in the press this week.

What is clear this week is that technology is not separate from culture. The influence is two ways, and we do need to be proactive in the decisions we make about which technology to use in education. Always, we need to ask.. is there a purpose? What are the consequences? No technology for technology’s sake.

2 Replies to “Week 2 Summary”

  1. Having spent the week at BETT, where many vendors are trying to sell technologies into schools, your last paragraph struck a chord. Bayne’s observation of the complex interrelationship between the human and the digital is also key to thinking about the use of technology in education; the ‘complex entanglements’ of the human and the technical must be considered. At BETT, I frequently heard TEL perspectives and assumptions reiterated.

    (And yes: thank you for the help with getting the IFTTT streams established!)

  2. Super summary here Renée,

    The DeBaets paper looks great, thanks for sharing that, it’s now on my reading list! Transhumanism, for me, trends to inherit something of the Eurocentric humanism that has privileged a particular model of human being (white, male, rational), and assumed this to be an underlying authentic kind of universalism. From that position, ‘enhancement’ through technological means is rather specific, and limited, and directed towards particular ideas around cognition, and reason.

    So, it is great to see you reflecting on some of the ethical issues surfaced in ‘cybercultures’. The normalising of particular human conditions seems to be apparent here doesn’t it? certainly, that would be one productive way of analysing the film clips we have viewed. If you can get hold of Braidotti’s book ‘The Postman’ (http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=9780745641584), that provides some good critical post humanist perspectives in this area.

    Following Helen, I liked your final point her about asking questions about the ‘purpose’ of using technology. This reflect Bayne’s point about the commitments and values we have for teaching, I think, and how we might bring these to bear own our decisions about technology use.

    Coming back to the politics of Transhumanism – for which I really need to read that paper! – there is something to be said here for ‘taking a position’ in relation to humanism. This is precisely where critical posthumanism differs from anti-humanism: it’s not necessarily a rejection of all those Eurocentric, essentialist ideas, but rather an opportunity to (re)evaluate them. That, to me, sounds like an ethical way of working with the theory.

    Well, lots to make me think here, thank you! Now, must get on to reading your analysis of Ghost in the Shell, sounds interesting!

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