Does technology simply mirror human prejudice?

This weeks debate had me thinking how horrible humankind truly is, especially if the technology we use often has been proven to have prejudicial views already seen daily in our society.

Amy did a great job of pulling the main points from the agree & disagree side of this weeks debate topic “Technology is a force for equity in society” in her blog this week!

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My naive outlook sometimes has me thinking that of course only the best intentions are had…

giphy (1)

The disagree team certainly had me questioning how great technology truly is.  They provided many statistics and facts about the frequency of racism, sexism, etc., that many programs show, as well as the oppression that occurs even more so because of the financial divide that occurs from technology.

This article provided by the disagree group discusses how it isn’t necessarily the technology that is racist or biased, rather it is learned from human behaviour.  I completely agree with this article because humans are the ones building the technology, so it would make sense that it will be flawed and have some of the negative attributes we see in humans.  Now, this article definitely goes over my head because I do not understand how algorithms work and how an algorithm can have the ability to be fixed such to not show prejudice.  I do agree though that this is something that can be worked on with time.

This guardian article focused exclusively on the sexism that occurs within technology, in that voices are frequently female, and also can be quite dangerous as location is becoming nearly impossible to keep secret with the different applications in which are used.  Again, negative attributes of humans which are mirrored into the programs we build.

“But we should also be thinking bigger: we must avoid reproducing sexism in system design. “ – Lizzie O’Shea

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These books are great cautionary tales, similarly to Black Mirror, of the dramatic and sometimes dangerous impacts that technology can have.

Before you start thinking we are all doomed:giphy

So I know I have typically fallen on the side of “anti” technology in our debates so far, and I would say this week I ended up the same way.  The agree group shared this great article which listed various amazing positive uses of technology, including Open Educational Resources which can be downloaded, edited, and shared to support teaching and learning.  These types of resources can and should be used in rural Saskatchewan to help support learning. So, yes there are definitely great uses for technology.

There were many fantastic blogs this week, and it was a bit surprising to me how many people were wavering between sides in the debate.  Nicole does a wonderful job of comparing fair and equal in her post this week, and in no surprise she shows how imperative relationship building and the teacher’s role is in ensuring that technology is used in a way to help build equity.  This whole class I have had the feelings, and Shelby nailed the same ones, of I totally see the pros to technology and the positive impacts it can make, BUT I DON’T THINK WE ARE THERE YET!

What I have gathered from this course and from our debates is that there absolutely are great uses of technology in the classroom and in society.  Careful consideration needs to be taken by both parents and teachers to ensure:
A) Children/Students use technology responsibly, especially privacy and location settings.

B) Technology is used to enhance learning further not just to replace what pen/paper can do.

C) We model the positive impacts which can be made from technology. Don’t avoid it, rather use it alongside them.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this course, and the major strides I have made in my personal social media use! There were some major learning curves along the way and thanks to everyone for following my progress!

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2 thoughts on “Does technology simply mirror human prejudice?

  1. I enjoyed your post this week Kristen! Like you, I really wavered back and forth and I completely agree that technology is learning how to be prejudice because of us. And I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s mind went to all the negatives, as seen is Black Mirror. I actually read that the director named the series this to mimic what happens when the screen turns off and we see our reflection in the black mirror. I like the books you linked as well, as I may have to check some of them out! This topic fascinates me and I see how much of our lives it controls. You end with some good points, and highlight the most important ones, this week and for the whole course. Our focus should be on students learning how to use technology properly, use tech with purpose and with the goal of a positive future!

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  2. Thanks Shelby! Yes it is so easy to waver back and forth isn’t it! There are so many positives, that hopefully we can navigate the complex online world and technology so that we can truly use it in a powerful with our students, and/or children.

    Liked by 1 person

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