Manifesto Part 2

Assignments for Manifesto:

Preamble - Christopher

Norms
-Predicting technology - Ryan
-Immortality - Lauren
-AI - Eric
-Face to face vs. digital - Katie
-Print copy vs. digital - Amanda
-Education - Lindsey
-Digital technology as a tool (use it, not let it use us) -April
-Anonymity/respect - Annabeth
-Internet access/ availability - Lenise
-No internet exploitation - Casey
-Digital native/ADD - Caty

Conclusion - Carolyn and Amanda

References -Everyone's information compiled at cited at the end


Determining Technology in a World of Technological Determinism

Preamble

Technology is constantly progressing while simultaneously being steered towards making our daily lives more convenient. However, despite all of the scientific achievements we’ve seen, especially in recent decades, technology has not completely begun to run our lives. Then the question starts to rise, just how much is too much?

In other words, just how much should we allow technology to enter into our daily lives? Are some changes necessary for us or even as beneficial for us as we would like them to be? Authors such as Nicholas Carr and Ray Kurweil have voiced their opinions on the matter, which point to how technology is taking over our lives, whether for better or for worse, and taking away our humanity. It seems that the more advanced we become as a society, the more slippery the slope between benefiting from technology and becoming entirely dependent upon it becomes.

As such, the purpose of this manifesto is to document how we should be cautious about becoming too dependent on technology, be it the digital technologies that surround our daily lives or the technological achievements that can affect us long-term. As a class who has conversed together for the past several months about the past, present, and future repercussions technology has had/will have on the human race, we have provided a manifesto of what we as a society should and shouldn’t do as we continue to progress scientifically.

-Christopher

Norms

We should not create problems today with the expectation that the technology of tomorrow will fix them

We are in the process of creating a massive environmental disaster and resource shortage for our children and grandchildren. We have based a huge portion of our economy on disposable plastic and have created massive landfills and islands in the pacific made entirely out of plastic trash. We are also using up all of our resources, from oil that will never be replenished to fresh drinking water that isn't renewed as quickly as it is used. Much like the person who maxes out their credit card with the expectation that they will pay it off some day when they get a job, we are creating a crisis with the expectation that some future generation will clean it up. But what if that is a very, very long time from now?

-Jay

We ought not to live forever even if technology makes it possible.

We cannot believe that living indefinitely is a part of human nature, or that it should be.
If we develop a method of lengthening human life indefinitely, either the physical body or the workings of the cognitive mind, we will change the essence of human nature.
Because humans are the ones who create, develop, and maintain current technologies, we need to recognize that our own human capacity and intelligence is the only way to create certain technologies. We’ve made advancements beyond our wildest imaginations, from the invention of light-bulb to the development of the computer, but those advancements can never surpass human intelligence simply because they are the product of such intelligence.

In “The Singularity is Near,” Kurzweil argues that once the appropriate technology is developed, i.e. nanobots that can scan the inner workings of our bodies, we will be able to replicate cells/tissues/organs, and repair damaged ones so that we will eradicate disease and ultimately, reach immortality. Kurzweil’s argument misses the point of human existence – its transitory nature is what drives humankind to act and achieve. Kurzweil fails to understand that death is a natural process, even welcomed by some. His fears and insecurities have culminated into a theory that can only in disaster. If life were to continue forever, what would we value in it? Immortality would be a lonely existence and costly to our resources. To deny this fact, to continue to seek self-preservation, will actually make evolution, development, and progress stoic.

-Lauren

Educational material should not be replaced with digital educational media.

We believe that it is essential to preserve traditional media for the sake of future generations of new readers. There is no way that an eReader can fully display the wonderful illustrations of some classic books like “Goodnight Moon” or “Green Eggs and Ham,” and to allow a child to read only electronic copies of these stories is absent parenting. We believe that in downloading books, children are not learning the joy that comes from sitting in a library, nor are they learning the values that come with preserving a book through many readings. They will not learn the satisfaction or turning the last page of a book and saying, “The End”, a process that is entirely removed when hitting a button turns the ‘page.’ In addition, eReaders take the parent-child bond out of reading, since eReaders are—by design—meant to be read by one person. (Can you imagine a teacher showing a Kindle to his/her whole class?) By replacing the real parent-child interaction of learning to read, parents are distancing themselves from a powerful bonding tool with their children.

We also believe that the collectivization of all digital media in one or two outlets offers us a false sense of permanence. This has already been the case of Google Books, where transcriptions went horribly wrong. What would happen if books, once transcribed, were destroyed in their original copy? Any subsequent revision would be impossible. If the Amazon Kindle platform crashed and all data were lost, how would humanity recover our past? For this reason, we believe that educational material for the next generations should be preserved in print form to encourage them to accept the values of permanence that words—and not zeros and ones—offer.
-Amanda Duncan

The development of Artificial Intelligence should be closely monitored and limited in its study and progress, and should not be used towards prolonging or replicating human life, or towards replacing a human.

With the constant rise in demand for new research and development in technology, new possibilities for different products and studies have risen to create great excitement among the human race. In medicine, the study and use of technology has led to tremendous breakthroughs, from developing cures and treatments of diseases to replacing dead limbs and dying organs with artificial limbs and organs, or transplanting those donated by an organ donor. In the rest of the work world, technology has solved such problems as safety and productivity on the job.

But these developments mean nothing compared to the potential of further developing artificial intelligence, and as humans, it is in our nature to not think things through in the mist of extraordinary discoveries, and our patience is rather lacking. These truths can be seen in the fictions of literature, drama and cinema, and are constantly seen even in everyday reality.

The development of A.I. is a mysterious branch of technological science that should not be embraced with haste and without care. Humans cannot predict the outcome of integrating A.I. into society without exploring its benefits, cons, or reliability. It must be thoroughly and repeatedly researched and experimented on before any decision on its affect and interaction with humans can be made.

A.I. should be strictly limited to the role of tool for humans. The assimilation of specific deducing, problem-solving and reasoning capabilities should also be limited to specific, work-related tasks, and not exceed beyond towards human knowledge and behavioral replication.

Artificial intelligence should also not be spliced or implanted into a human organism for the purpose of prolonging life, replicating life or replacing life. Nature is a complicated system of which man has very little information on, despite the centuries of endless study. Life should only be maintained until death comes. We do not need to even attempt to go beyond the boundaries of nature and recreation to prolong life through the implantation of artificial devices, as the possible methods are dangerous and doubtful in their success. Life must go on, and nature has proven to be merciless. The only exception of using A.I. in a human is strictly medical, as seen in the examples above. This is also reviewed in the immortality section.

As for replicating or replacing human life, there is no need to do so. Humans have a natural instinct to survive by whatever means necessary that are not typically risky, and the integration of A.I. into human society is an open doorway towards humanity being fazed out of existence over a period of time, as the problem-solving machines will learn how to replicate and fuse with humans.

-Eric Kambach

We should treat digital technology as a tool and use it responsibly but not let it use us.

We should respect digital technology and appreciate its advantages. However, we do not want to become addicted or feel as if we are addicted to digital technology. We understand that we cannot always realize when and how often our work is interrupted and hindered by participating in unproductive use of technology. (For more, see Lauren’s ethnography or other ethnographies on unplugging.) We believe that distancing ourselves from digital technology at times can be refreshing and allows us to reevaluate the role of these technology in our lives. We should not become so consumed by the technologies we create that we lose control of them. We do not want to be so dependent on technologies that we could not cope or survive in their absence.

While we believe that digital technology can provide incredible benefits, such as greater accessibility to information, social networking, and increased [digital] communication, we should not become so dependent on digital technology that we cannot enjoy or participate in life without it. We must remember that digital technology is a tool that we should use responsibly and not a crutch to replace or own abilities. Whether or not we believe a theory like Nicholas Carr’s - that digital technology is has changed our biology and not necessarily made us “dumber” - we agree that we should make an effort to prevent technology from totally revamping who we are, how we behave, and ultimately, what it means to be human.

-April Baker

Education practices should accommodate the needs of the "digital natives" because this new way of thinking is biological, not deficient

Whether we like to admit it or not, the emergence of the Internet, where we can acquire instant knowledge on almost any subject, has stifled our ability to read and remember long texts. This does not mean that we can’t understand what they’re saying; it’s just that we can’t retain all of that information when we’ve gotten so used to just retaining small bits of information at one time. In The Shallows, Nicholas Carr explains how our brain adjusts to make more room for the functions it uses the most, which means less room for the functions that aren’t used as much. For instance, our capacity for short-term memory has increased because we use it much more and our capacity for long-term memory has decreased because we use it much less. It’s not a matter of deficiency; it’s just a matter of biology.

I think that Carr’s belief in this generation’s inability to deeply contemplate is rooted in the fact that he doesn’t think the same way that we do. And who’s to say which way of thinking is better or worse? Just because we don’t think like the previous generations doesn’t mean we can’t think intellectually. Although teachers should still strive to have students think deeply, they should adjust their curriculums to cater to the needs of student’s decreasing capacity for long-term memory. For example, if a teacher makes a Powerpoint, they should make sure to use short sentences and small paragraphs, so the student doesn’t feel overwhelmed and turned off by a large body of text. Or instead of giving finals and midterms, teachers should have small quizzes throughout the semester when the information is still fresh in student’s minds. These strategies will help students to actually learn and retain the material without overwhelming them.

-Lindsey Macdonald

We should not assume that our predictions of technology are accurate.

A majority of scientific advancements have been devised solely to benefit humanity. Cars are a fast and convenient form of transportation, medicine is advanced to cure what ails us, and even weapon technology is meant to protect us from threats. Most of these advancements have done what their intended to, but they have resulted in much collateral damage as they head further in the future of technology.

As April said in her manifesto, cars have been polluting the air we breathe since the day the first engine was ignited. While this may not be as true in most countries that use public transportation, it is certainly not true for American. Americans need a sense of privacy, and every citizen makes it a point to drive their own car. Some even have massive engines that produce far more exhaust than is necessary. We are slowly poisoning ourselves everyday.

Medicine is another example of technology coming with negative consequences. Though medical technology has cured many of the diseases in the past, it has also managed to make them stronger. Some diseases are capable of evolving and developing resistance to the treatments, which cure human beings of them. Many chemists are looking toward changing the genetic make-up of certain microorganisms. Having this ability makes it seem like microorganisms can be engineered to survive conventional means of neutralizing them, and they probably are.

The same goes for the idea that technology can make human beings obsolete. If some artificially intelligent machine can eventually do every kind of task, than what makes certain that human beings will be necessary in the future. This same idea seems to be the plot of throughout Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano. Technology is already capable of destroying the entire Earth, and it may do so someday. We must keep our eye on how powerful we make technology, or we just may make it too powerful.

-Ryan

The wages of digital technology should not be the loss of the print forerunner; we should not completely forsake books for trendy eReaders.

We believe that print-books possess a value unmatched by digital-books. There is something significant about the physical and tactile aspects of print. The smell of an old book provokes an almost universal response of—breathe in, eyes close, faint smile—nostalgia. Can the Kindle do that? We do not think so. Also, when using print one derives a sense of accomplishment from reading cover to cover, with the movement of pages and markers as an indication of progress. With digital technology one often reads from hyperlink to hyperlink or the entirety of the text from top to bottom. Books seem to require more tactile interaction, while the digital seems to rely heavily on potentially computer game-like spatial skills.

Print technology is more permanent than digital technology. Digitized information must always be accessed through varying technological devices; books require only one’s ability to read. As digital technology is powered by electricity, it becomes impermanent—remove the power source for long enough and the technology is useless. Furthermore, as technology advances past itself, the older models must be abandoned and new versions must be purchased. Books do not require upgrades—once readable always readable (unless you spill coffee on it, but even then the odds of recovery are better than with a computer).

Print technology is too important to be completely abandoned for digital technology. It is valuable to our culture and is more consistently reliable. As digital eReaders progress, we must protect and preserve print technology.

-Amanda Thomas

Anonymity should be preserved to protect First Amendment rights, but anonymous users should act respectfully.

Anonymity is both a blessing and a curse. For those in danger, posting as an anonymous user can be a safe haven to voice personal opinions or potentially life saving information. For others, anonymity is an excuse to “troll” others on the internet, attacking those that are weak or different. The option of being anonymous is something that should never be taken away, because there are those that use it for good. However, there are some measures that can be taken to ensure anonymity is used conscientiously and respectfully by all.

By monitoring comments sections of forums, websites will be able to protect those that are contributing in a positive manner to the website. More so, website that require login information to make comments would deter users posting for the mere sake of bullying. By ensuring that each user is required to set up a profile with a name and email address before getting a username, websites will be protecting those brave enough to post with a name, and hopefully those wanting to troll will move else ware, or just keep their mouths shut. For those in danger, yes, there should be places on the internet where full anonymity is given. But for comments on blogs or newspapers, usernames should be required, as well as a monitor that deletes offensive or bullying comments.

The right to free speech is something that is very important to every American, and being anonymous is part of that right. Anonymity is a way to protect those that fear what might happen if they speak their mind, and this should never be taken away from any internet user. Jaron Lanier suggests that you “Don’t post anonymously unless you might really be in danger” and this is something that everyone should consider before making a comment.

-Annabeth Wonch

The internet ought not to be a tool in which parents exploit children.

Parents have a responsibility to not target their offspring as resources for kismet or affluence. And we, as a consumer-based society, should not encourage such reprehensible tactics with our re-Tweets, “likes,” or viewing support. Children should not be a resource for their parents success through records labels, appearances on MTV and invitations to the Ellen show. The children of parents who have videotaped their embarrassing moments (“Is this real life?”) and brandished them on YouTube, or who exploited their obesity through song and viral video (“I love my chubby chubby cupcake, yummy yummy yumpkin, you’re my sweetie pie"), or who adorned their seven-year-old child with gold chains, skinny jeans and high tops, glued a microphone in their hand and coerced them to cover Justin Bieber and Eminem until the video reached 2 million hits, or to poor Matty B who's father records choreographed raps and uploads them for YouTube viewing – you are owed an enormity of sympathy. A childhood should not be exploited and engulfed in Internet fame. They should be able to live their lives without the fearing a video camera in hopes that they will become the next YouTube star as a repercussion of their parents need for fame.

-Casey Whitehead

Technology should not replace face-to-face interaction.

While technology provides an incredible medium in which to communicate, it is important that society preserves the humanistic qualities of face-to-face interaction. Social media outlets provide various ways to interact and form relationships with people all over the world, but it lacks the non-verbal communication emotion, and context humans count on when maintaining those relationships.

As humans, we rely on our identity to provide context for developing a sense of purpose in this world. If we believe in Kurzweil’s deterministic approach to technology, we are accepting that our identities will eventually become digital, and thus less human. Kurzweil’s acceptance of such an existence suggests a path towards artificial intelligence, and thus lack of humanistic values. If we follow this dangerous path, we risk losing abstract qualities that simply cannot be replicated digitally – love, the sense of a soul, forgiveness, pity, empathy, joy, etc.

Additionally, this behavior has negative consequences to the processes and procedures society follows in the workplace. So much of our economy is directed towards customer service, yet a lack of face-to-face interaction hinders the necessary relationships to keep the industry flourishing. Of course, technology is a useful aid – providing complex ways to interact and conduct business. But the emphasis on these tools should be to initiate and promote more non-digital interaction. If society puts more of a priority on this, fewer jobs will be lost.

The consequences of communicating more digitally can be extremely destructive – for example, the case where a couple participated in virtual reality so much, they neglected to care for their real child. The results of such behavior may not always be fatal, but promotes a culture with lower standards of community participation. The negative effects may not be so evident now, but in future generations, a de-emphasis on face-to-face communication will begin to destroy so many nonreplicable human qualities. If society ignores the importance of this interaction, the “singularity” might unfortunately happen.

It is imperative society recognizes the need for real interaction – if the concept is ignored, we can only blame ourselves for breaking down the intangible things that make us human.

-Katie Stitt

Information on the Internet should be accessible and affordable to everyone.

The founding principles of the Internet were based on the idea that it should be open and accessible to anyone who wanted to use it; the Web provides a platform for regular people to create and share ideas in a number of different ways. But lately, Internet Service Providers (ISP) have been hinting that, in the future, they might be able to charge their subscribers an additional fee to access particular websites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc.). For the United States, such extraneous charges are not likely to be a terrible inconvenience because of competing ISPs, but think about other parts of the world that only have one ISP to chose from. Allowing ISPs to charge additional fees for access to certain websites could potentially allow companies to exploit a poorer population of people, people who have every right to be able to access information on the Internet.

More important than the monetary aspect of Internet accessibility is perhaps the ethical aspect associated with attempting to block certain websites. We’re not talking about Parental Controls here, though those are a good idea under certain circumstances. Rather, we’re talking about the potential power a government has over controlling Internet accessibility. For example, China has recently blocked a few Western media websites such as the BBC in response to the upcoming presentation of the Noble Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo. This kind of censorship is unacceptable; the Internet and all its content should be accessible to anyone who wishes to access it.

World-wide accessibility, according to Clay Shirky, benefits everyone because the capabilities the Internet provides allows us to use a given technology to reach our desired means. This could be something as small as saving some cash by carpooling to work and reducing your carbon footprint, or it could be as big as inspiring a global social revolution.

-Lenise Phillips

Conclusion:

In conclusion, after several months of study on the subjects of how technological determinism affects both the intrinsic and introspective makeup of our lives, we as a class have finally come to a consensus on the ways in which technology will and will not play a role our futures. Through these conclusions we have made manifest those twelve statements that “ought to and “should” govern our lives and livelihoods. With this manifesto we therefore proclaim and declare:

  • We should not create problems today with the expectation that the technology of tomorrow will fix them.
  • We ought not to live forever even if technology makes it possible.
  • Educational material should not be replaced with digital educational media.
  • The development of Artificial Intelligence should be closely monitored and limited in its study and progress, and should not be used towards prolonging or replicating human life, or towards replacing a human.
  • We should treat digital technology as a tool and use it responsibly but not let it use us.
  • Education practices should accommodate the needs of the "digital natives" because this new way of thinking is biological, not deficient.
  • Citing oneself as a “Digital Native” ought not justify the inability to read or focus.
  • We should not assume that our predictions of technology are accurate.
  • The wages of digital technology should not be the loss of the print forerunner; we should not completely forsake books for trendy eReaders.
  • Anonymity should be preserved to protect First Amendment rights, but anonymous users should act respectfully.
  • The internet ought not to be a tool in which parents exploit children.
  • Technology should not replace face-to-face interaction.
  • Information on the Internet should be accessible and affordable to everyone.

By following the twelve policies and procedures listed above, we, as a class designated to unraveling and understanding the repercussions and ramifications of living in a world of technology, will surely rise to the task of governing our own lives successfully and will, in the end, live through technology.
-Carolyn

References

Ethnographies
Manifesto Part 1
Nicholas Carr "The Shallows"
Class discussions
April Baker’s Manifesto Part 1
Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano
Considered Replies 1
Jaron Lanier You Are Not A Gadget
YouTube
Ray Kurzweil
MSNBC
Salon.com

Formatting and Editing by Carolyn