Rethinking, redesigning, re…

Tuka Al-Sahlani

I was not expecting the idea that technology is the slave and we are the master in Dori Tunstall’s essay. It is intriguing to read about the Indigenous Protocol and Artificial Intelligence Working Group and only when the idea of Indigenous practices of “all my relations” did I understand why we need to reconsider this master/slave relationship. Initially, I was resistant to the idea of technology as equal– I am not sure I would agree with using the term equal–but I do see the value in enhancing interconnectedness instead of engagement. Interconnectedness would benefit the humans and the Earth. I think of technology and humanoid robots as inanimate objects, so the interconnectedness for me would be, as Tunstall suggests, to rethink and redesign technology with BIPOC consciousness to eliminate the biases and the notion that technology is inconsequential.

I believe the flawed notion that technology is inconsequential is why the Tech Learning Collective and the FemTechNet exist. It is the humanists who are interrogating technology that have allowed us to rethink power and technology. But, as one of the many who use technology without mindfulness, how am I using it with the FemTehNet manifesto in mind? I think, what I am asking is, in what small ways can we modify our technological usage and sponsor or promote these smaller conscious changes in our families, within our friend circles, and communities? I connect these questions to Walsh’s reading because I have seen the damage in employee moral and work environment when an administrator decides ”let’s add new software to [insert field/task/skill here] and everyone must use it” with the promise of technological software as a utopian fixer upper to all educational and work issues.

Thank you Jen and Sean for these readings!

4 thoughts on “Rethinking, redesigning, re…

  1. Jen Hoyer (she/her)

    Tuka, I would love to talk more about how we define meaningful interconnectedness with technology — it’s definitely a thought-provoking idea that comes up in these readings! What are the terms we use for understanding the meaning that technology has in our lives?

    And, I really like your reflections on mindfulness. I think we see a *very specific* type of mindfulness in Walsh’s article, and it prompted me to think: if folks could be mindful to use technology for that specific intention, how could we be mindful with different goals? If we can mindfully implement tech to “not rock the boat” and allow traditional hierarchies to flourish, can we mindfully implement tech to reimagine the power structures we’re used to working within? I would love to brainstorm mindful use of tech with the class more.

  2. Brieanna Scolaro (They)

    Tuka, your first line of “I was not expecting the idea that technology is the slave and we are the master in Dori Tunstall’s essay” is something I appreciate and captures the reflective process I was experiencing reading this essay. I also never thought of technology as the “slave” of humans, though we need to be careful about this comparison. It makes me reflect on the potential for technology/AI for good – for connection, for companionship, to combat lonliness. I think back to my time working as a young social worker with older adults (85 – 90 year olds) where I would go to their homes and serve as a friendly visitor. Many of my seniors loved to join college courses via audio where they could learn new things or apply own knowledge as a way to continue to feel important, build a sense of self, in a time where they are experiencing loss – loss of generational components, body mobility (many had strokes), loss of friends and family. Here technology enables connection and is the vehicle between human and connection. Now, we are talking about tech not as a vehicle but as the destination. People are having relationships, friendships, with AI chatbots and it is breaking the news. Where is the line between where this is okay (appropriate, helpful, therapeutic) and when this is not okay (engaging with chatbots to avoid reality, reinforcing avoidance patterns, even romantic/sexual feelings towards AI / technological beings). Technology, science and society has boundaries though these are constantly changing, and the distinction between there 3 will continue to blend. Is this blending inevitable? Is this a way to continue to surveil and to control? Is this data being stored and sold somewhere, while destroying the environment? Thank you for entertaining my tangent!

  3. Sean Patrick Palmer

    This line: :he flawed notion that technology is inconsequential” rang out as true to me.

    I have been dealing with this notion since I arrived at LaGuardia. Most of the people in my area do not think that it’s important to involve technology in their classes.

    You would think that Communication Studies faculty would understand the importance of technology in, well, communication, but, sadly no.

    It is extremely frustrating.

  4. Katina Rogers (she/her)

    I think it’s not only the notion that tech is inconsequential, but also that it’s *neutral*. Which we know that it isn’t! But it’s so easy to forget when you’re doing a million things at once and turning to the tools at hand—I’m really not sure it’s feasible to be a critical user 100% of the time. I’d love to talk more about this in terms of AI, too, with all the stuff that’s coming out about ChatGPT and Bing lately—something that also connects to the need for increasingly massive computing power, and therefore has a high environmental cost as well as some very mixed social ramifications.

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