Team 3 Synthesis

Susan Nguyen

Our discussion focused on chapters 5-7 of The Techno-Human Condition. We began by posing some very open-ended hypothetical questions that drew from each chapter – I was glad to see that everyone did not take them at face value but instead tried to tease out the finer details of the possible scenarios we had created.

A substantial amount of class was spent discussing the idea of gaining knowledge without doing anything vs. gaining knowledge through experience. While most students agreed that they would take a PhD amount of knowledge about a particular subject, this still brought up some moral issues in terms of the value that people place upon earning it as opposed to being given it. One question that this part of the discussion touched upon was what are the distinctions between IQ, education, knowledge, and intelligence? I thought this was important because in posing my own questions I used the term IQ without thinking of the possible differences between each term.

An even larger part of our discussion focused on performance enhancing drugs such as Adderall and antidepressants (are these performance enhancing/at what point do they become so?). While I was also hoping to more explicitly look at technological enhancements, such as said drugs, on a broader scale in terms of how they could potentially affect/improve humanity (and what “improved humanity” even means), I was fine letting the class continue in the direction that it did because most students were engaged in the discussion. I think another important question to ask is who should be the one deciding if/when an individual should be given drugs such as Adderall? It is easy to say that we should do away with these drugs, but what are the other alternatives for people who need them to function on a day-to-day basis? Do people really want to “get better” or do they really want be remain less functional/happy if it means they can be more brilliant in other areas? I found all of the points and questions posed to be insightful and well worth discussing because all of us are already technologically enhanced in various ways, whether it is the drugs (hopefully prescription) we consume or the things our bodies need to function every day (for example, glasses or contact lenses), etc.

Jonathan Roberts

Susan summed up what we discussed in a great way so I’ll go ahead and focus on how the discussion went. Overall, it was great and fostered a discourse on many of the topics I feel like many people in the class have just been waiting for a long time to bring up.

Only a few minutes into our presentation, we really just let the discussion go; we quit being leaders so much as members, only sometimes breaking up the conversation to keep it going through the lens of the chapters we read. I felt the questions went really well—especially the interesting choice of studies everyone had if working hard was no object. The consensus was generally that all of our studies would become hobbies if everyone were able to study a STEM field, which is a very interesting take from senior-level students in the humanities. I’m still not sure if I expected that outcome or not, but it was the most interesting moment for me throughout the discussion.

Many members of the group seemed to know a lot more about the Adderall/mentally-enhancing drug world that I did. We derailed somewhat here, but at this point the group was very comfortable letting the group discussion go wherever we wanted. Again, it seemed like people had topics they wanted to bring up in a discussion, and on Tuesday we were really free to do so. More college classes should be based in discussion like this but it doesn’t always work. This group dynamic is great and everyone seems to feel comfortable talking together. I walked out of class feeling refreshed and just wanting to talk more about the topics we brought up.

Samantha Pedersen

My teammates have made a great summary of our class discussion, but I wanted to throw my two cents in. Susan, Jon and I decided earlier that week that one of the things we wanted to stay away from was a solid hold on the discussion; we wanted the conversation to flow organically. The earlier groups did a great job keeping up the discussion, but occasionally they completely stopped whatever conversation was going on and added in another point of discussion from the chapter. It’s not necessarily a bad method, but we wanted to see if the conversation could be kept up through natural means.

Our method to this, of course, was to ask a few questions at the beginning of the class that laid the foundations for the discussion, but by no means directed the flow of conversation. The questions were intentionally open-ended and a little vague; I tried to fill in some information if a classmate requested it, but for the most part, we asked the questions and let the class discuss them.

I was impressed with the amount of discussion we had on performance enhancing drugs in a hypothetical situation, and then how it was so easily related back to present day and compared to drugs such as Adderall and antidepressants. When we finished our discussion, I felt like it was an overall success; we went into the classroom hoping for a very free form conversation, and that’s what we were able to achieve. Occasionally the conversation was derailed, but for the most part we discussed the problems featured in our chapters.