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Evaluating and Controlling Technology

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Presentation on theme: "Evaluating and Controlling Technology"— Presentation transcript:

1 Evaluating and Controlling Technology

2 Overview Information, Knowledge, and Judgment Computers and Community
The ‘Digital Divide’ Evaluations of the Impact of Computer Technology Making Decisions About Technology

3 Source of Information : Evaluating Information on the Web
Web a prevalent source of information. Is the source good? Not as obvious as in print medium? Hard on web to even sometimes know who the “author”/source is. Expert information or individual opinion or ‘wisdom of the crowd’? Daunting amount of information on the web, much of this information is not correct Search engines are replacing librarians, but Web sites are ranked by popularity, not by expert evaluation Wisdom of the crowd - ratings by public of website If millions participate, the results will be useful

4 Evaluating Info on the Web
An example: Wikipedia Written by volunteers, some posts are biased and not accurate Although anyone can write, most people do not Those that do typically are educated and experts

5 Evaluating Info on the Web
Wisdom of the crowd Problems of unreliable information are not new The Web magnifies the problems Rating systems are easy to manipulate Vulnerable viewers Less educated individuals Children Compared to print media…where you have to physically get it….we can have wide audience “find” web material through search engines… Responsibilities of site operators Should identify user-supplied content Make clear which information has been verified

6 Media on the Web Manipulation of images:
Movies and videos use special effects to add creativity and enjoyment of entertainment People can use technology for deception and fraud Ease with which we can modify digital images and video Should news agencies modify images and videos? Faking photos is not a new phenomenon; more people can do it now because it’s easy

7 Writing, Thinking and Deciding?
Have computer/technology/web tools displaced skills that were once important?? Example: Is it okay to create a paper by “mashing” together other peoples thoughts quickly found/taken from the web. Abdicating responsibility…the future? The now? People willing to let computers do their thinking (computer models…see next slide) Reliance on computer systems over human judgment may become institutionalized Fear of having to defend your own judgment if something goes wrong (so let the computer/web/technology speak for you)

8 Computers Thinking for us: Computer Models
Computer Models = program/system that autonomously or semi-autonomously models a situation and possibly makes decisions or presents results/ conclusions

9 Computers Thinking for us: Computer Models
The PROBLEM How well do the modelers understand the underlying science or theory? Models necessarily involve assumptions and simplifications of reality…, they produce results that may not be absolutely correct. How closely do the results or predictions correspond with the results from physical experiments or real experience? Are they better than the human experience?

10 Computer Models…more Why models may not be accurate
We might not have complete knowledge of the system we are modeling The data describing current conditions or characteristics may be incomplete or inaccurate Computing power may be inadequate for the complexity of the model It is difficult, if not impossible, to numerically quantify variables that represent human values and choices

11 Discussion Questions Eval.1) How do you evaluate the reliability of information you find on the Web? How do your evaluation methods compare to the way you evaluate information from other sources? Eval.2) Some computer models are better than others. What types of models work well? What types don't? Why? Post your answers on discussion board.

12 Computers and Community
It is human nature to form associations based on common interests and beliefs Some feared early technologies, such as telephones, thinking communication would be de-humanized Computers and the Internet were blamed for the decline in community involvement and memberships in clubs and organizations But, the Internet provides communities focused on specialized interests or problems

13 Computers and Community (cont.)
The Internet brings people together from all over the world and the Internet provide convenient and cheap ways for families and friends to stay in contact New trends include social-networking sites such as MySpace and virtual environments such as Second Life

14 Discussion Questions Eval.3) How convincing is the argument that electronic commerce threatens small (“brick and mortar”) community businesses and thus the health of small communities? Eval.4) Do you think that communicating by text messaging and via social-networking sites depersonalizes or dehumanizes your relationships with friends? Post your answers on the discussion board.

15 The "Digital Divide" New technologies only available to the wealthy
The time it takes for new technology to make its way into common use is decreasing Cost is not the only factor; ease of use plays a role Entrepreneurs provide low cost options for people who cannot otherwise afford something Government funds technology in schools As technology becomes more prevalent, the issues shift from the haves and have-nots to level of service

16 The "Digital Divide" (cont.)
The Global Divide and the Next Billion Users: Approximately one billion people worldwide have access to the Web; approximately five billion do not Non-profit organizations and huge computer companies are spreading computer access to people in developing countries Bringing new technology to poor countries is not just a matter of money to buy equipment; PCs and laptops must work in extreme environments Some people actively working to shrink the digital divide emphasize the need to provide access in ways appropriate to the local culture

17 Impact of Computer Technology
The Neo-Luddite View of Computers, Technology, and Human Needs: Movement of opposition to specific or general technological development Computers cause massive unemployment No real need (We use technologies because they are there, not because they satisfy real needs) Computers cause social inequity Benefit big business and the government Do little or nothing to solve real problems Computers separate humans from nature and destroy the environment The term Luddite is a political/historical term relating to a political movement during the Industrial Revolution

18 Impact of Computer Technology (cont.)
Accomplishments of Technology: Prices of food are down and raw materials are abundant (cheaper to produce w/ technology) Real buying power is up (easier to distribute) Food supplies and GDP are growing faster than the population Dramatic impact on life expectancy (hmm?) Assistive technologies benefit those with disabilities

19 Making Decisions About Technology
The Difficulty of Prediction: Each new technology finds new and unexpected uses The history of technology is full of wildly wrong predictions Weizenbaum argued against developing speech recognition technology Mistaken expectations of costs and benefits Should we decline a technology because of potential abuse and ignore the benefits? New technologies are often expensive, but costs drop as the technology advances and the demand increases

20 Making Decisions About Technology
Intelligent Machines and Super-intelligent Humans - Or the End of the Human Race? Technological Singularity - point at which artificial intelligence or some combined human-machine intelligence advances so far that we cannot comprehend what lies on the other side We cannot prepare for aftermath, but prepare for more gradual developments Select a decision making process most likely to produce what people want

21 Discussion Questions Eval.6) If you could decide what technologies should be developed, what would you develop? Why? Eval.7) Does the prospect of super-intelligent robots scare you? Post your answers to discussion board.

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