Our discussions this week featured Watson, the computer who won Jeopardy! and thoroughly trounced its (or his) human opponents. On Thursday, my group considered how similar humans are to computers. Because of the other class I'm taking with Professor Dalke, Gender and Technology, I've learned to be wary of drawing boundaries between things without serious consideration. Therefore I suggest that we are not very different from computers – they are extensions (or perhaps even mirrors) of ourselves. Computers' abilities seem as limitless as the human imagination; already with computers we are able to communicate more efficiently, explore our interests and try on roles with relative anonymity, and complete tasks that would otherwise be impossible.
On Thursday we discussed the idea of integrative learning. Most of us seemed incredibly resistant to the idea of an integrative approach to education. I think this idea deserves some further consideration, however. We have previously debated the lines between science and the humanities, and the blurring of those lines. There are more similarities between the two fields than we usually care to admit. It is because of this that I think an integrative education would be so much more helpful to people unsure of what they want to study. I always thought of myself as a “humanities” person, until I took science classes that challenged me in new and exciting ways.
At the very end of our discussion on Thursday, a question was raised as to whether believing in a “divine script” absolved humans of accountability for their actions. I don't think that this is true. Even if one believes in a divine being, and even if one believes that that diving being has a “script” for the universe, personal responsibility definitely still exists. One can only claim that an even or action was “God's will” if one understands the entire plan, or has the whole script. This idea relates to our dialogue on ignorance – our ignorance of the underlying patterns causes us to believe that everything is merely chance.
Our discussion of perspectives this week reminded me of a scene from a book I read by A.J. Jacobs, called The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. When incest was brought up in discussion, there were several extreme yet wildly different reactions to this taboo. This discrepancy called to mind Jacobs's book, which details Jacobs's attempt to follow every single rule in the Bible.
While reading On the Origin of Species, I could not shake Professor Grobstein's directive to us to read it as we would a romance, or any other novel. I felt so little of the words on the page held romance in and of themselves, that, instead, the true romance was somewhat hidden beneath the work, hinted at by Darwin's throwaway comments about his research, life, and contemporaries. Every so often his pure joy for his subject would come tumbling out: "We see these beautiful co-adaptations most plainly in the woodpecker and missletoe [sic]; and only a little less plainly... in the plumed seed which is wafted by the gentlest breeze; in short, we see beautiful adaptations everywhere and in every part of the organic world" (p132).
Our discussions of evolution and stories have really captivated me. The concept of truth being absent from science is a new one for me. I had always accepted that science was about facts, concrete details that were definable and correct about the universe. This new perception of science is a little mind-boggling for me. I'm fascinated by the idea that science only disproves theories, that evolution itself is only another story. If science is truly furthered by disproving ideas, then it seems to me that the failure of a theory is really a success for scientific exploration. I think there's also a connection between this scientific exploration and evolution.
I'm Katherine, and I am an undeclared freshwoman at BMC. Outside of class, I like to play soccer, write and I'm involved in Shakespeare Performance Troupe. I'm a dual Australian-American citizen who finds the weather pretty challenging at the moment, and wears two coats most of the time. I went to three high schools, two Australian and one American, and two colleges so far, both American, so I'm pretty used to being the new (foreign-ish) kid. I would like to major in English and evolution was my favourite topic in high school biology so I'm really psyched for this class because I hope that it will expand my way of thinking.