Team 5 Synthesis

I was not entirely shocked by the conversation we had based on free will, as people have different feelings about technology in general. Clearly the class has differing feelings, enough to bring a little bit of heated conversation over the capabilities technology has. There were lots of opinions about the definition of free will, although we all agreed that finding a complete, concrete definition that was acceptable to everyone across the world would be an impossible feat, and quite Nobel Prize worthy. I thought the free will conversation prompted great responses in person, because it was explained more clearly, and people were more able to determine what was meant by it.

The discussions on beauty and differing cultures seemed to have a little bit of consensus throughout the class. While most of the class agreed that natural beauty was something of nature, finding an outright definition seemed to be a challenge as well. I thought Emily did a great job of grabbing some emotion when talking about the blending of cultures. Those that studied abroad seemed to believe you could not get the whole experience of another culture via technology, and it became a big point in the discussion.

The conversation about unique ideas was a little more tame, and seemed to be pretty cohesive throughout the minds of our class. People are constantly reinventing ideas that someone else had, through word, music, movies, ect. The realization we seemed to arrive at was that people don't always know where the information is coming from previously, like the remake of old songs incorporated into newer songs. Overall, the discussion flowed pretty well, we spent a good amount of time on each question, and I was pleased with the discussion in general. I would have liked to incorporate more of the keywords we defined, but I don't think the discussion was too lacking without them

Megan Forbes


I enjoyed the discussion on how technology affects cultural bounds—especially through language. Considering language a technology even further supports the idea that technology intertwines itself with society, defining it, supporting it, and merging cultures. But I also agree with the class that cultures remain intrinsically different. I honestly don’t see a complete breakdown of those boundaries until well well into the future, if ever, although technology does seem to coerce us into a more global union, culturally, as well as creatively past and present. We talked about how the further we move along, the more technology has the capability to pass down history, and also to distort it—such as through music, as well as cultural traditions and ideals.

It also seems that our discussions incorporating Kelly tend to bring us back to self-reproducing robots and/or technologies. I thought it interesting that we further argued the possibility of a self-sustaining technium, to use Kelly’s words, and whether it could develop on its own, could—like Kelly argues—make choices. I mentioned before how I find Kelly to over-generalize categories (“want” equated with “tendency,” when I see a difference between the two in terms of cognizant desire and choice), and I found a small inkling of that in Kelly’s lumping molecular reaction with how we view human nature’s free will. It seems like members in class stick to the usual view of free will in humans, one that requires a mind and thinking.

Rosalie also talked about this over-generalization in her question about Kelly categorizing Beauty with things we don’t necessarily associate it with. And the class agreed for the most part that Nature remains a type of Beauty separate from that of technology. It gives one hope about this fear of dominion by technology, because clearly, we, even just as a class, hold onto certain values (be it free will, culture, creativity, beauty, etc.) that may affect and be affected by technology.

Shannon Yen


The question about cultural differences reflected people’s wiki responses in the way that the majority of the class believes that cultural differences will continue to exist despite increased interaction. I was a little surprised by how firmly people believed that technology like Skype does not substitute for the experience of actually traveling to another country.

As for the question about the beauty of technology, there seemed to be a general consensus that technology does not fulfill the traditional definition of beauty. I thought it was interesting how some people answered that in spite of this, technology can possess attributes that are beautiful. For example, the discussion brought up how the history or design of a skyscraper can be beautiful, but the building itself is not beautiful. Likewise, collaboration involved in creating the Internet is beautiful, but the majority of our class would not call the Internet beautiful.

The question about free will inspired a lot of discussion despite of the lack of responses on the wiki. Overall, people seemed to think that a thought process is required to have free will. I must agree. In my opinion, the concept of free will involves the ability to make choices. Molecules have no choices because they cannot judge a situation. They just happen to take a certain path. The outcome depends solely on probability. Humans have free will not only because they have options, but also because they are capable of judging a situation before taking action.

The final question about unique ideas in the midst of increased production resulted in a lot of discussion about the current state of the music industry. The class seemed to have mixed feelings on sampling, depending on the quality of the sample vs. the quality of the original. I liked how people pointed out that art forms like music, film, or literature take an old idea and add variations to create a new piece. I also had never thought about how these art forms revolve around icons, which are imitated before attention turns to a different icon.

Emily Whitesell

The answers to question two interested me. We discussed concepts of beauty and surfaced whether it could mean appearance, quality, or meaning. I remembered Kelly's statement that understanding something's beauty comes from understanding its evolution. Our discussion touched on that but didn't reach a conclusion, however I think that his statement sums it up well. To really appreciate something for what it is; beauty, quality, or significance, one must understand where it came from, what it was like before, and the intended purpose of its creation. Our class discussion alluded to that statement, and I was satisfied as such.

The discussion on free will struck my interest because our class was so vocal about it. We boiled it down to thought: Thought leads to one's own actions, which equals their free will. You think based on what you see and experiences; your choices come from the choices you see your parents make and the choices that your friends influence you to take, but even though your mindset is so enormously shaped by your surroundings, it is your thoughts that ultimately make your decision. Our class discussion seemed to conclude this concept, and I could not have been more pleased.

The end of the discussion went too off-topic for my taste. I should not have added the snippets of information that I did to the discussion because I do not feel they were fruitful or summed up the presentation well. I enjoyed hearing our classmates debate on sampling, creativity in today's music, and the quality and expectations of popular music, but I wish that we had come to a call to action as a group afterwards.

Rosalie Wind