Tag: Robots

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Phase 1: Machines Replacing Humans

// Posted by on 04/21/2014 (3:25 PM)

So far this semester we have explored the many different effects of the growth of technology on our world. We have become a “digital America” in which people rely on various different machines and technologies to complete daily tasks. In… Read more


So far this semester we have explored the many different effects of the growth of technology on our world. We have become a “digital America” in which people rely on various different machines and technologies to complete daily tasks. In class we have addressed what lead us here and what the consequences have been so far of growing  reliance on technology. Our discussions about high frequency trading made me curious about the fast pace world we live in, and why we are so readily allowing machines to be responsible for so many actions. My project will focus on the increasing role of technology in our world and how it is stifling the roles of humans as the use of machines invades every sector of the global economy.

My project consists of an assessment of our present condition (explaining how we use these machines now) and my projections for the future based on my research. I intend to explore the physical, mental, and emotional capabilities that robots and machines have, and to consider both points of view put forth by experts. In many stores we no longer look to humans when paying, but rather we scan items ourselves and a machine spits out our change and a receipt. Our smart-phones speak to us and take commands from us through Siri. When you enter a retail store you might be helped by a kiosk rather than a real person. Vacuum cleaners operate themselves to clean our houses. Our cars can even park themselves. So what will happen next?

Many of our class presentations addressed the use of technology in ways we never thought possible. The use of robots and machines is becoming more and more a part of society, and it has become clear that they will soon be able to complete more human actions than we ever though possible. Things like drones (sailing and flying) and computer operations systems that talk are things that I never expected to see in my lifetime.

By 2013, there were already over a million robots in the industrial workforce. Why? They don’t require an hourly wage, their quality of work is consistent, and they don’t get bored. Technological innovations have left many of us wondering about what the capabilities of these robots will be as they start growing in numbers. My research has lead be to believe that in as little as 10 years it is possible that robots and machines will have invaded the job markets of pharmacists, doctors, soldiers, drivers, store clerks, pilots, and more. What they lack in social intelligence they make up for in efficiency and productivity.

In 2014 we face a future that could go two ways, depending on how we receive new technologies in the next few years. Many experts say that if we refuse to except how quickly human-like technologies are pushing into the workforce, many of us could be left jobless. We need to learn to work side-by-side with these intricate technologies and attempt to keep up. Many blue collar jobs have already been handed over to machines and it appears today that we benefit from not having to employ people to perform the most basic tasks that a machine could do. But robots can acquire smarts, and those that are programmed a certain way pose a threat to society: they could potentially push even white-collar employees out of the workforce.

Robots and automated machines have become more and more capable of completing human actions, and my project explores the conflicting views that experts have on how much they might be able to do in the future. Using various media and research articles, I explain the practicality that these machines might offer us– many people think that this will help American society and the job market rather than hurt it. On the other hand, I also explore conflicting views of experts. While some pro-tech authors from Wired might think that this could help society, others believe that automated machines will take jobs from real people causing unemployment to skyrocket and our economy to plummet.

A Ted Talk on this topic:


What I have explored so far:

- our current state, what things they can do in 2014

- projections for the future, jobs that robots could potentially take, what fields will they invade, who could be effected

- how we might (be forced to) work together

What I will explore in phase 2:

- emotions, can robots have human qualities?, can they acquire social capabilities?

- what should we do? how our generation and the one after us might have to be more creative

- seeking alternate jobs, what can we do that robots can’t?


Questions for the class:

1. Do you think you would feel comfortable working side by side with a machine (as many expert’s predictions say we will have to in the near future)?

2. What types of “creative” jobs might you seek if robots enter the job market and limit your employment opportunities?

3. Do you trust these machines? (drones, electronic servers, surgical machines)

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Social Media as a Supplement to Conversation, and Why Bots are the Actual Threat

// Posted by on 02/01/2014 (6:01 PM)

This week, I have found the question of whether or not social media makes us lonely to be of particular interest. Most of us agree that we are generally too “plugged in” to our devices- we are constantly checking our… Read more


This week, I have found the question of whether or not social media makes us lonely to be of particular interest. Most of us agree that we are generally too “plugged in” to our devices- we are constantly checking our e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to name a few. This need to reach for our phones particularly occurs when we are actually sitting alone somewhere or if everyone else is on their phones as well. Doing this make us feel more in control of the situation and less like an outsider. So is social media isolating us or bringing us closer together? The following link is to a Ted Talk given by Sherry Turkle that I watched last semester for my “Advanced Theories of Interpersonal Communication” class, which discusses many of the points she makes in her New York Times article, “The Flight From Conversation.” While I understand Turkle’s main argument that we are in a culture of “being alone together,” I agree more with Tufekci’s argument that social media is just one aspect of communication that is meant to enhance connection, not replace conversation.

I agree with Turkle’s claim that the “sips of connection” we get through texting and social media do not substitute for real conversation, but I do not believe they are meant to do so. Indeed, forming a true relationship of any kind with someone via social media would be futile as you do not get an understanding of one’s true character strictly through those types of interactions. However, it cannot be denied that social media and texting have enabled us to maintain our relationships with friends, family members, and significant others while we are separated by distance. Even though we may look at their Facebook pages while we are apart, that does not mean that once we are reunited we do not engage in conversations about things that happened since we last saw each other. For the most part, I believe Tufekci is right in saying that “the people Turkle sees with their heads down on their devices while on a train somewhere are … connecting to people they deem important in their lives. They are not talking to bots.” Turkle also claims that social media and texting ruin our ability to self-reflect as we can edit and delete things before posting and sending them as opposed to fumbling in real time and exposing our true selves. I find several things puzzling about this claim. If we are taking the time to think about our responses to texts and editing pictures to post online, I believe there is a certain degree of self-reflection happening through that process. Personally, I do not post photos to Facebook or Instagram purely because I want others to see them, but rather because I can look back on the pictures to serve as a nice documentation of my life. In this sense, having photos online and writing tweets can be compared to having a modern diary of sorts. Also, taking a bit of time to think through a response to a text can be a good thing as sometimes it can save you from overreacting. The ability to reflect and think about an appropriate response is a learning process that can foster maturity. While Turkle notes that people are taking the time to edit responses, she also says we are demanding responses much faster due to these technologies. Features like read receipts that tell you when the other person has read your message or text can drive one crazy if they do not get an immediate response. Thus, there is a paradox in Turkle’s argument as she claims we take the time to edit ourselves so we can’t fumble in real time, but we also demand quick responses. Surely we are bound to expose our true selves if we are responding quickly to someone, thus maintaining that element of real time.

Turkle and Tufekci both address the prospect of bots in the future, and whether technology and social media should be lumped into the same category. Having just read From Counterculture to Cyberculture, I think it is undeniable that the culture fostered by these advances in technology has prompted people to wonder how far we can take it. However, I do not think it is right to place social media and technology in the same category. To me, technology is the actual iPhone, iPad, laptop, etc. It has many capabilities, however these would be meaningless if people did not want to access social media. Social media sites are websites, whereas iPhones, iPads and the like enable us to access these sites on the go. One could argue that the rise of social media made smart phones and iPads more appealing as there was now a need for their capabilities. When the iPhone first came out, I thought it was silly. I wondered why I needed to have my camera, phone and iPod all in one when I already owned each of the separate goods. However, now that I’ve owned an iPhone I don’t know what I would do without it. Bots, on the other hand, seem like a very strange concept to me that I do not believe would be healthy. After every quote in Turkle’s article from people saying they want to learn to have a real conversation, or would like a bot to get love and life advice from rather than a human, I could not help thinking how weird they sounded. Technology and social media are not a substitute for real-life relationships and conversations. I agree with Tufekci’s claim based on her research that correlation does not equate to causation. Those who are dependent on technology and social media to the point that they are lonely or prefer it to actual interactions are probably more introverted people who would be socially awkward even without social media. I believe social media was created with the intention of it being a supplement to in-person communication, and a way to keep in touch with friends, family, and loved ones despite distance. Conversely, bots would be created with the intention of being a substitute for human interaction, and I think this is where technology crosses the line into becoming dangerous to human interaction.

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