HUM 110

Technology and Society

Professor Steven Kreis

COURSE OBJECTIVES – This course will address the social, political, economic and intellectual implications of technological change. This is not a course about “how things work.” The course combines a historical survey that considers the divorce between technology and science from the time of early man and the ancient world through the 19th century, when the interests of both science and technology merged. We will then address contemporary issues such as the Internet, genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and the revolution in information technology. The general theme of the course can be stated as follows:

 

Technological breakthroughs come in clusters, interacting with each other in a process of increasing returns. Technological innovation is not an isolated instance. It reflects a given state of knowledge, a particular institutional and industrial environment, a certain availability of skills, an economic mentality, and a network of producers and users who can communicate their experiences and learn by using and by doing.

 

OFFICIAL COURSE DESCRIPTION – This course considers technological change from historical, artistic, and philosophical perspectives and its effect on human needs and concerns. Emphasis is placed on the causes and consequences of technological change. Upon completion, students should be able to critically evaluate the implications of technology.

 

COURSE PREREQUISITES – ENG 090 AND RED 090 or placement scores.

 

COURSE REQUIREMENTS – Attendance and informed participation at all class meetings is required. This means that you show up to class on a regular basis and complete your assignments on time. The entire success of the course, both from my standpoint and yours, is that you get involved, get interested and get motivated to study the implications of technological change. Education is nothing more than dialogue, and according to the master of dialogue, Socrates, good dialogue ought to improve both the instructor and the student. Above all, you will be challenged to think and discuss freely and openly.

 

HUM110 WEBSITE – You MUST have a valid email address as well as Internet access. This class has a companion website located at http://www.historyguide.org/hum110. This website includes the syllabus, all lectures, outlines, handouts, and essay topics.

 

THE CLASS – My conduct in the class is based on genuine respect for the intellect of the student. My approach is informal and at times, irreverent. Just the same, I take my work very seriously and I expect you to do so as well. If you miss any class it is your responsibility to make sure that you make up for lost ground. If you are not prepared to at least think about our subject, then I suggest you will have a tough time overall. In other words, come to class prepared to learn, have fun, and above all, THINK!

 

 

REQUIRED TEXTS –  The following texts are available at the bookstore or online:

Arnold Pacey, Meaning in Technology

            Philip Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

           

 

In addition, you will also read three essays that you will receive as handouts. These essays are also available online – these essays have already been printed so there is no need to print an online copy.

 

            1.   E. M. Forster, The Machine Stops (1909)

            2.   Bill Joy, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us” (2000)

            3.   Ray Kurzweil, “Promise or Peril” (2003)

           

GRADING – Your final grade will be determined by the successful completion of the course.  In that regard, the breakdown of the course is as follows:

 

            Test 1                           10%

            Test 2                           10%

            Test 3                           15%

            Essay 1                         20%     

            Essay 2                         20%

            Oral Presentation          15%     

            Class Participation        10%

 

LECTURES, FILMS, DISCUSSIONS, AND READINGS

August 16 Course Introduction
August 18

Lecture: Science and Technology in the Ancient World: The Neolithic Revolution

http://www.historyguide.org/hum110/neolithic.html

August 21 

Lecture: Science and Technology in the Ancient World: Mesopotamia, Egypt and Muscle-Flexing
http://www.historyguide.org/hum110/meso_egypt.html

August 23

Lecture: Science and Technology in the Ancient World: The Greeks                                    http://www.historyguide.org/hum110/greeks.html

August 25

Lecture: Science and Technology in the Ancient World: Plato and Aristotle                                    http://www.historyguide.org/hum110/plato_aristotle.html

                        Read: Forster, The Machine Stops

August 28

Lecture: Science and Technology in the Ancient World: Hellenistic Developments                                    http://www.historyguide.org/hum110/hellensitic.html

Read: Forster, The Machine Stops

August 30

Lecture: Science and Technology in the Ancient World: The Romans                                    http://www.historyguide.org/hum110/romans.html

Read: Forster, The Machine Stops

September 1

TEST 1: Science and Technology in the Ancient World

Read: Forster, The Machine Stops

September 4 NO CLASSES
September 6 DISCUSSION: Forster, The Machine Stops
September 8

Lecture: Beyond Europe – Byzantine and Islamic Developments                                    http://www.historyguide.org/hum110/byz_islam.html

                        Read: Pacey, Meaning in Technology, pp. 1-55

September 11

ESSAY 1 DUE: Forster, The Machine Stops
Lecture: Beyond Europe – China
http://www.historyguide.org.hum110/china.html

                        Read: Pacey, Meaning in Technology, pp. 1-55

September 13

Lecture: Beyond Europe – Mesoamerica                                    http://www.historyguide.org/hum110/mesoamerica.html

                        Read: Pacey, Meaning in Technology, pp. 1-55

September 15 DISCUSSION: Pacey, Meaning in Technology (pp. 1-55)
September 18

Film: The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)

                        Read: Pacey, Meaning in Technology, pp. 59-98

September 20

Film: The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)

                        Read: Pacey, Meaning in Technology, pp. 59-98

September 22

Film: The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)

                        Read: Pacey, Meaning in Technology, pp. 59-98

September 25 DISCUSSION: Pacey, Meaning in Technology (pp. 59-98)
September 27

Lecture: Medieval Technology – Medieval Microchips and the Agricultural Revolution

                                    http://www.historyguide.org/hum110/med_microchips.html

September 29

Lecture: Medieval Technology – From the Stirrup to Natural Philosophy

                                    http://www.histoyguide.org/hum110/stirrup.html

October 2 

Lecture: Medieval Technology – The Gunpowder Revolution and World Domination

                                    http://www.historyguide.org/hum110/gunpowder.html

October 4 TEST 2: Understanding Medieval Technology
October 6

NO CLASSES

READ: Pacey, Meaning in Technology (pp. 103-222)

October 9

NO CLASSES

                        READ: Pacey, Meaning in Technology (pp. 103-222)

October 11 

Lecture: The Scientific Revolution, 1543-1700
http://www.historyguide.org/hum110/sci_rev1.html

                        READ: Pacey, Meaning in Technology (pp. 103-222)

October 13

Lecture: The Scientific Revolution, 1543-1700
http://www.historyguide.org/hum110/sci_rev2.html

                        READ: Pacey, Meaning in Technology (pp. 103-222)

October 16

Lecture: The Scientific Revolution, 1543-1700
http://www.historyguide.org/hum110/sci_rev3.html

                        READ: Pacey, Meaning in Technology (pp. 103-222)

October 18 Lecture: The Origins of the Industrial Revolution in Britain                                                                        http://www.historyguide.org/hum110/ind_rev.html
                        READ: Pacey, Meaning in Technology (pp. 103-222)
October 20

DISCUSSION: Pacey, Meaning in Technology (pp. 103--222)

                        READ: Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)

October 23 

Lecture: The American System of Manufacture

                        READ: Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)

October 25

Lecture: The American System of Manufacture, continued

                        READ: Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)

October 27 

Film: Clockwork

DISCUSSION: Taylorism and Scientific Management

                        READ: Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)

October 30

Film: Modern Times (1936)

                        READ: Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)

November 1

DISCUSSION: Mass Production

                        READ: Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)

 

November 3  DISCUSSION: Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
November 6 

ESSAY 2 DUE: Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
ORAL REPORTS

                        READ: Joy, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us” and Kurzweil, “Promise or Peril”

November 8 ORAL REPORTS
                       
READ: Joy, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us” and Kurzweil, “Promise or Peril”
November 10

ORAL REPORTS

                        READ: Joy, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us” and Kurzweil, “Promise or Peril”

November 13 DISCUSSION: Joy, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us” and Kurzweil, “Promise or Peril”
November 15 ORAL REPORTS
November 17 ORAL REPORTS
November 20 ORAL REPORTS
November 22  No Classes
November 24 No Classes
November 27 ORAL REPORTS
November 29  ORAL REPORTS
December 1 ORAL REPORTS
December 4  Film: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
December 6 Film: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
December 8 

Lecture: The Information Technology Revolution – The Digital World

                                    http://www.historyguide.org/hum110/digital.html

December 11

Lecture: The Information Technology Revolution – The Internet Revolution

                                    http://www.historyguide.org/hum110/internet.html

December 13

Lecture: The Information Technology Revolution – Silicon Valley

                                    http://ww.historyguide.org/hum110/silicon.html

December 15     TEST 3: The Information Technology Revolution