Katherine Solomon - Manifesto

Technology should complement us, not define us.

As we talked in class I realized one our main concerns was that technology was going to replace us and that we will ultimately lose our “humanity.” We define ourselves using technological terms daily. I’m a Mac person; I’m a PC person; I’m a Blackberry user; I’m a Droid user; I’m an iPhone user; friend me on facebook; we’re facebook official; tag me on facebook; follow me on twitter; tweet at me; I’d like this on facebook; google me. These are just definitions based off of our daily use of digital technology, imagine what will happen once different technologies advance and become a part of our lives? After watching the clip in class that shows the husband and wife connecting their nerve endings and moving in synchronization based off of one person’s movement, I can’t help but worry about how technology will change become a part of our future. If we’re already so connected to the internet and our identity in relation to these various technologies, we must be wary of the physical aspects of technology to come. As we begin to define ourselves on technological terms, we lose a bit of ourselves. Technologies should be used soley to enhance us as human beings. The nerve ending technology could provide use of an arm that previously was limp or a coma patient’s brain waves could be read and a means of waking them up could be found. There are nonmedical uses as well. New technologies could help us transportation-wise and ultimately find greener and more efficient ways of travel. The possibilities are literally limitless. And because of these endless possibilities, it is imperative that we maintain our humanity and do not implement technology for the sake of technology, but rather for our enhancement as humans.

Social media should enhance our relationships, not replace our relationships.

Social media should serve as a supplement to our relationships in the fact that it makes our face-to-face interaction with our friends a more positive experience. Tools such as facebook, can serve as a way to invite people to events, which will promote face-to-face interaction in the future. Facebook also provides an opportunity to make groups where people can post things, chat, and interact despite physical distance. In this case, it should be used simply as a means of keeping in touch when face-to-face interaction isn’t possible. Photos can be posted and friends can look back on the good times that they’ve had together. Moreover, friendships that have fallen by the wayside can be rekindled via a friend request.
In my classmate’s study, she notes that facebook info sections (about me, interests, relationships, etc.) are merely a tool by which people judge others. I think that this should be used as a topic of conversation rather than silent judgment. Sherry Turkle worries that we hide behind computer screens to communicate with one another instead of seeing each other in person. She worries that we will lose our ability to speak to one another face-to-face because we rely on the computer screen as a crutch. For this reason, it is imperative that we monitor our use of social media. Ultimately, we have control of how much or how little we rely on these mediums. If used correctly they can enhance our relationships, help us to keep in touch, and plan to see each other.

If this rule isn’t taken into consideration, we may lose perspective of what a true relationship is. By hiding behind our computer screen and judging others based on their social media information sections, we are missing out on who our “friends” truly are. No person is defined solely by his or her use of social media. We must be sure to use these social media outlets as complements to our relationships and as a means to connect with our friends in a face-to-face manner.

Sources: http://ltt.wikidot.com/brittany-kelly-study and Sherry Turkle’s “Alone Together”

As technology advances, we should keep stringent laws in place to maintain our privacy.

With social media, the introduction of implantable GPS microchips, cookies tracking our every move on the internet, and algorithms deciding who we are and what we like, privacy is becoming increasingly important. After reading the link in Consider This (http://idealab.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/10/googles-privacy-practices-to-be-monitored-for-the-next-20-years.php?ref=fpblg) about Google being watched for its privacy policies, I began to think about the mass quantity of information that we give to the internet. Google knows what websites I look at, where I’m from, what I buy, what I watch, and more personal information than some of my closest friends. Without stringent privacy laws, this information could fall into dangerous hands (or programming). From my facebook alone, someone could find out my full name, birthday, my mother’s maiden name, where I live, my brother’s name, what school I go to, and even by snooping some of my wall posts, what classes I’m taking. In googling me you can find more information about my involvements. Sounds like a perfect set up for identity theft or primetime stalking. As we discussed in class, what if a company knew exactly how to market to you to ensure that you would buy its product? It would do so using the information that you provided yourself on the internet. Implementing privacy laws that limited or permitted the use of personal information on the internet would help maintain our personal privacy and prevent the abuse of such easily accessible information. As the digital age expands and more people post things into the internet, something must be done to protect the current users and future users.

As technology develops and changes the way we live, we must fervently keep rooted in our original culture.

Another facet of our innate humanity is our culturally based self-identities. We have talked a lot about how it is simply the Western World that works so hard to define the self. Where we live, where we come from, and all of the factors in our cultural environment greatly impact who we are. Things ranging from simple cultural customs to what we eat and phrases that we use. Ultimately we are all so different from one another because of our cultures. That being said, a computer can’t be programmed to naturally have culture. You can program an American computer, a British computer, etc. but it will never be a cultural blend of things involving its environment or upbringing like the make up of a human. This became apparent to me when I read the article about the iPhone’s Siri function not understanding Scottish accents. Sometimes we rely on computers to be culturally flawless and able to “understand” all humans. However, this is clearly not the case. Every robot, computer, and technology must be catered to a specific culture. We must make sure that we do not do the opposite and give up our varying cultures in order to cater to the needs of technology. Generations to come will grow up with these expanding technologies. It is important that within families, cultural pasts and traditions are passed down and lived out. It is also important to emphasize the importance of taking in one’s environment to learn and grow as a person. The loss of cultivation of culture and importance of culture would mean the loss of a sense of our humanity.

Computers and other advancing technology should not replace humans as companions; no matter how many human phrases, responses, etc. they have in their database, they cannot reciprocate feelings or adapt to the varying emotional, physical, and interactional needs of humans.

Turkle argued that we validate our relationships through social media rather than interacting with one another and showed elderly people interacting with Paro a robot seal. She also showed the attachment that adults and children formed with various forms of human-like robots. However, glitches and emotional inadequacies of these robots often made some of the people feel inadequate or shut down. The robot seal could not replace the companionship of an elderly person’s family member coming to visit. Moreover, a robot couldn’t spontaneously do or say something like a human that would stimulate a human’s sense of spontaneity, use free will to make a decision, or improvise in any way. A robot simply cannot satisfy a human’s interactional or emotional needs in the same way that human interaction can because a robot doesn’t choose to trust you in any way or form a friendship with you in the same way that a person does. For this reason, we must be wary of what roles we assign to robots. Talk of a robotic firefighter is in the works at Virginia Tech, but could this robot truly act on impulse if it discovered a person in the wreckage? As humans we are impulsive, emotional, animals with free will – a robot could never replace that.

Computers and other advancing technology should not replace humans as teachers; no matter how many human phrases, responses, etc. they have in their database, they cannot reciprocate feelings or adapt to the varying educational strengths and weaknesses of a class

I wrote this normative phrase before our discussion on tech-ucation today, but clearly it is an important thing to consider. As technology is increasingly used in the classroom, we must keep in mind the purpose of teaching rather than the method. The purpose is to transmit information in a simple way in which others can understand and also to challenge people to think outside of social constructs to expand their minds. Beginning at a young age, children idolize their teachers. They need the person-to-person contact of their classmates and with their teacher to learn and develop socially and mentally. All students naturally feel the need to impress their teachers. It is hard to feel that same need to impress for a computer screen. When I took math emporium classes, I did not have the same drive to succeed because I was merely interacting with a computer screen. This idea of a computer as a teacher is becoming more and more prevalent. In the “University of Wherever” post in Consider This (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/03/opinion/the-university-of-wherever.html?_r=2&hp), the prospect of offering classes online for free arises. Although it is convenient that cost of college tuition will go down, and the accessibility of education will increase, it is still not a replacement for face-to-face student-teacher interaction. Although students can adapt to this method of teaching, it will not be suitable for all learning styles or provide the same customized learning environment. Therefore, it is important that today’s current classroom setting is maintained and that computers do not replace teachers.