The truth is that most issues that are associated with “problem technology use” have their roots elsewhere. Bullying existed before smartphones, as did pornography, screen addiction, and social isolation. While it is true that smartphones can exacerbate or facilitate these things, they can also have significant positive benefits for learning, social connection, and communication. We can’t teach students to balance their screen time with personal interaction by taking the choice away from them. It is difficult to pursue lessons in the pernicious reality of data privacy and surveillance capitalism without a real and critical engagement with these issues.
Over our history, we’ve found ways to create tools and spaces that call out and amplify the best parts of human nature. That’s the great story of -civilization—the development of technologies like written language that have moderated our animal impulses. What we need now is a new technological -enlightenment—a turn from our behaviorally optimized dark age to an era of online spaces that embrace what makes us truly human. We need online spaces that treat us as the unique, moral beings we are—that treat us, and encourage us to treat one another, with care, respect and dignity.
We should embrace being uncomfortable. We live in a political and social hellscape. The majority of us have no job security, we can’t afford houses and we can’t afford to have families. Many of us can’t even afford healthcare. None of this is comfortable, so we may as well do something to change that for our futures, and for future generations.
This is useful provocation Cameron. In part it reminds me of James Bridle’s contribution to the rethinking of Human Rights for the 21st century. I think we are entering or in a challenging time when consuming (or prosuming) comes before being informed. Something I elaborated elsewhere. With AI do we know the consequence anymore and what does it mean to discuss this in the humanities not just the tech class?
Also on: Read Write Collect
Right now, it's impossible to buy a smartphone you can be certain was produced entirely ethically. Any label on the packaging wouldn't stand a chance of explaining the litany of factors that go into its construction. The problem is bigger than one company, NGO or trade policy, and will require everyone's effort to make things better.
Daniel Cooper explains the challenges associated with buying an ethical smartphone. He touches on the challenges associated with the construction (often in the Shenzhen province) and the number of rare materials involved.
Devices vary, but your average smartphone may use more than 60 different metals. Many of them are rare earth metals, so-called because they’re available in smaller quantities than many other metals, if not genuinely rare.
There is also limitations on the ability to recycle or refurbish devices, with significant challenges associated with replacing parts. This is also something that Adam Greenfield discusses in his book Radical Technologies.
via Douglas Rushkoff
Do I need this tool? Why? How does it really support learning? What are the costs, both monetary and otherwise, of using this service? Do the rewards of use outweigh the risks? Is there a paid service I could explore that will meet my needs and better protect the privacy of my information and my students’ information? How can I inform parents/community members about our use of this tool and what mechanisms are in place for parents to opt their children out of using it? When this tool and/or its plan changes, how will we adjust? What will our plans be to make seamless transitions to other tools or strategies when the inevitable happens?
Lyn Hilt reflects on Padlet’s recent pivot to a paid subscription. She argues that if we stop and reflect on what we are doing in the classroom, there are often other options. Hilt also uses this as an opportunity to remind us what ‘free’ actually means, and it is not free as in beer. We therefore need to address some of the ethical questions around data and privacy. A point highlighted by the revelations of the ever increasing Cambridge Analytica breach.
There has been a quiet push lately by tech industry giants to get ethical about future technologies. But is anything more than PR? And how do we teach technology students to preempt a possible ethical disaster? Jordan Erica Webber explores the issues
This is a useful introduction to debate about ethics and technology. One of the interesting points made was in regards to Google and the situation where Google Photos mislabelled people with dark skin as gorillas. This is a consequence of years of racism or focus on whiteness within technology.
Watch Dr Simon Longstaff’s presentation for more on ethics.
On the 8th of December at The Overseas Passenger Terminal in Sydney Australia, BVN hosted its bi-annual conference – Futures Forum 2. The theme was ‘Knowledge and Ethics in the Next Machine Age’.
23:21 Larry Prusak: Knowledge and it’s Practices in the 21st Century
Prusak discusses the changes in knowledge over time and the impact that this has. This reminds me of Weinberger’s book Too Big To Know. Some quotes that stood out were:
Knowledge won’t flow without trust
Schools measure things they can measure even if it is not valuable
Again and again Prusak talks about going wide, getting out and meeting new people.
1:21:59 Professor Genevieve Bell: Being Human in a Digital Age
Bell points out that computing has become about the creation, circulation, curation and resistence of data. All companies are data companies now. For example, Westfield used to be a real estate company, but they are now a data company.
The problem with algorithms is that they are based on the familiar and retrospective, they do not account for wonder and serendipity.
As we design and develop standards for tomorrow, we need to think about the diversity associated with those boards and committees. If there are only white males at the table, how does this account for other perspectives.
We do want to be disconnected, even if Silicon Valley is built around being permanently connected. One of the things that we need to consider is what is means to have an analogue footprint.
Building on the discussion of data and trust, Bell makes the point:
The thing about trust is that you only get it once.
The question remains, who do we trust when our smart devices start selling our data.
In regards to the rise of the robots, our concern should be the artificial intelligence within them. One of the big problems is that robots follow rules and we don’t.
The future of technology that we need to be aspiring to develop a future where technology can support us with our art, wonder and curiosity.
A comment made during the presentation and shared after Bell had finished:
Is your current job the best place for you to make the world a better place?
2:49:51 Phillip Bernstein: The Future of Making Things: Design Practice in the Era of Connected Technology
Berstein unpacks six technical disruptions – data, computational design, simulation analysis, the internet of things, industrial construction and machine learning – and looks at the implications for architecture.
3:51:44 Dr Simon Longstaff: Ethics in the Next Machine Age
Dr Longstaff explores the ethics associated with technology. This includes the consideration of ethical design, a future vision – Athens or Eden – and the purpose to making. Discussing the technology of WWII, Longstaff states:
Technical mastery devoid of ethics is the root of all evil
He notes that just because we can, it does not mean we ought.
He also used two ads from AOL to contrast the choices for tomorrow:
H/T Tom Barrett