AI: Awfully Indomitable?

By Shima, Age 18

In the world of the common teenager, a conflict exists between the child’s right to independence versus the parent’s right to protection. Independence is a highly prized and sought after goal by many a person, but just how independent do we think we are?

He would earnestly hesitate before admitting that a great deal of daily functions cannot be performed without the use of some form of technology. “Computers are addictive,” said senior Julie D.. From common machinery, such as computers, automobiles, and microwaves, to the luxuries of palm pilots and satellite radio, it would be unusual (and unlikely) to carry out the day. “Technology’s an important part of a girl’s life; girls use hair straighteners to look good and cell phones are important in case of emergency,” said eight grader Courtney H., while freshmen Mary T. asserted,“We don’t necessarily need them, but they’re a great addition to our beauty regimen.” Sophomores Sara S. and Jessie V. add, “We wouldn’t be able to communicate with each other.”

In fact, technology exists because of society’s needs, and society’s needs have always been listless and multiplying. This “symbiosis” can be discussed further to explain that society changes every time it meets its needs through technology; consequently, when society changes, more needs arise. This observation basically means that technological upgrading will never go away. Brent Simon, a calculus teacher at Chapelle, observed that, “the emphasis on the mechanics of calculus have been reduced because the computers can handle them; the emphasis on the concept has gotten stronger because it’s the ‘human’ part of the equation, that is, how calculus is applied.”

There are two divergent faces of opinion regarding technologies impact on society. There are many that believe in technicism—the over reliance or overconfidence in technology as a benefactor of the public. Technicism has its disadvantages and advantages. The ones who believe in the former are adamant that eventually freedom and health will be compromised as a result of new technology. French philosopher Jacques Ellul declared in his revered work, The Technological Society, that, “what looks like the apex of humanism is in fact the pinnacle of human submission: children are educated to become precisely what society expects them to be.” Several pieces of literature are fervent criticisms of the negatives of technology, including Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Continuing on the subject of literature, a computer software has been generated to grade essays and provide feedback. The Intelligent Essay Assessor can develop its own grading criteria fashioned after “good” essays that are submitted into its processor. Many would agree that his limits creativity, abolishes individuality, and homogenizes students’ papers.

The other end of the technicism spectrum ardently defends technological advancement and deems it gainful to society. Transhumanists, such as social-feminist Donna Haraway, claim that technological progress is morally good. “I would fail school if I didn’t have a computer. I do all my papers on a computer,” said junior Jaclyn C.. Another testimony to that philosophy is the accomplishment of an automobile that is more fuel-efficient than its predecessor (such as the Toyota.) However, because the technology we use today is widely accepted as morally agreeable, future technologies are not being seriously considered as possibly detrimental; consequently, some believe that there is a “blind acceptance” of technological advancements.

There is both proof and support behind both sides of the issue, but one factor remains constant: the global community we live and thrive in right now is frozen in this moment; the next generation will possibly have to deal with a world that is unlike the one that exists today.