Many men lost their jobs when technology made them obsolete. The new jobs available were soul-crushing, undignified, and required an arduous commute—and that’s assuming companies would hire them. Most employers wouldn’t, because the men were considered too old and unskilled for the new work. And then a false prophet with messy hair emerged, promising to…
Let’s not stop at merely describing what the current state is but continue to ask why and what we can do to change this.
There are others issues involved here that will become more apparent with time.
There has been a lot of speculation concerning the lack of black students in technology fields. Consistently, critics of policies promoting greater inclusiveness and differentiation of teaching strategies have argued that the reason for the disparities are rooted in mental capability and interest–not in structural problems.
Statistics released by the AP College Board in January of 2014 reveal some troubling disparities:
- 11 states had no Black students take the exam: Alaska (21 exam takers -4.3% Black by population), Idaho (47 – 0.9% Black), Kansas (47 – 6.2% Black), Maine (161 – 1.0%), Mississippi (1 – 37.3%), Montana (11 – 0.67%), Nebraska (46 – 4.5%), New Mexico (57 – 3%), North Dakota (9 – 1%), Utah (103 – 1.2%), and Wyoming (0 – 1.2%).
Some people believe that this is a matter of inherent intelligence, arguing that black students are not good at computer science. I disagree. I believe that this is a problem largely about pedagogy and less about aptitude. Recent reports have emphasized how particular problem-based approaches to computer science and other fields have benefited minority students. There is a lack of accessibility to these approaches and tech courses in many struggling schools where minorities are disproportionately represented.
Surely, in states where more than 25% of the population is African American yet less than ten black students attempt the test, common sense and probability would point to serious questions of accessibility not ability.
I think the solution to addressing this problem will probably not be championed by STEM field professionals alone. Integrated, interdisciplinary, cross-cultural approaches poses significant promise in educating the general public and aspiring STEM students about the barriers preventing access and achievement in the STEM fields by black students. It is necessary to tackle this problem from outside of the self-contained silo that often precludes effective minority recruitment to STEM fields. This is what I intend to do about it.
1. Have students in my history classes identify the historical reasons for the disparity and write open letters to school districts and educators that should be doing better.
2. Request that the AP College Board donate promotional materials and preparatory resources to districts who have low numbers of black students who are participating in the exam.
3. Raise awareness about the popular misconceptions surrounding this issue.
As programmers why we never finish our projects http://zite.to/1uZ9XOZ
Here we go again…
What Technology Wants (From the Oppressed)
Norman Kelly’s What Technology Wants (2010) argues that technology is falsely understood as physical outgrowth of human ingenuity. Instead, says Kelly, technology is a living force that predates human innovation and is somewhat of a cosmic sibling also spawned from life. For Kelly, the technium (the term he uses to describe technology’s autonomous attributes) is capable of not only fulfilling human desires but also to desiderate on its own terms.
I took liberty here to push Kelly’s line of reasoning into a realm of thought regarding exploitation that some would find absurd. Nonetheless, if the technium sent an email to oppressed people, what would it say?
Dear Species So Enthralled with Selfies That You Are Willing to Destroy Thousands of Lives to Procure Precious Metals and Millions More Through Narcissism and Snark:
- The technium wants oppressed people to understand that I prey on resources; I will aid in ‘progress’ as you call it but by my nature I must exploit the weaker. This is not personal though you may believe so. The technium needs resources to expand and simply follows “the path of least resistance” as you would put it. The rationale is a bit more complex but this simple heuristic will do. It’s not about you. It’s about me and my cronies.
- The technium wants oppressed people to understand that although it is used by the powerful, it also uses the powerful. The powerful claim that their particular genius and their scientific superiority is why they command wealth. This falsity is accepted as truth by both the strong and the weak. You should understand that the sole basis of power is consent. Is this not evidenced in how your cultures so willingly accept prevailing doctrines of wealth? In how you so willingly adopt every new innovation I deliver while accepting the loss of your own autonomy, resources, and sense of humanity in the process? The technium does not think of money as wealth but rather the ability to survive, to evolve, and to expand. While most humans, particularly the powerful, have signified money alone as a measure of these traits, technology wants more of the following: efficiency, opportunity, emergence, complexity, diversity, specialization, ubiquity, freedom, mutualism, beauty, sentience, structure, and evolvability. (270) Both the oppressed and the powerful base their faith in monetary instruments to achieve freedom. However, all living things that use me–including human beings–are my currency because they consent to allow my influence to reign. In this way, you can think of your powerful as larger denominations ($100) that I use to purchase my will as they help me to constitute the masses of lesser units ($1s, $5s, $10s) and the billions of pennies. Neither powerful nor weak have any inherent value to me beyond the ability for coordinate my will–to be my tools even as they use me.
- The technium wants oppressed people to listen to the insight of Max More’s philosophy but without abandoning the psycho-social inquiries of W.E.B. Du Bois. As Amilcar Cabral wrote: “…however fine and attractive the reality of others may be — can only be transformed by detailed knowledge of it, by our own efforts, by our own sacrifices.”
P.S. Stop wasting so much time on twitter.
I like your style!
Laurenson provides some important points to consider as we hail technology without seriously engaging its manifold cultural impacts.
In John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon (2010), John M. Logsdon has shown us how the Kennedy Administration used the Apollo 11 program as a weapon in the diplomatic arsenal of foreign policy. Documenting skillful planning and focused willpower, Logdson illustrates Kennedy’s plan to outmaneuver the USSR and land the first man on the moon. Though not the subject of his book, the extensions of Logsdon’s key arguments are also relevant to several unlikely assumptions about technology and its relationship to race and policy.
- Technological development does not exist outside of the human element. Technological innovation is in itself a material document of the dynamics of power. As Logsdon illustrates here between and within nation-states but these interaction can also be interracial and crosscultural. Unconvinced? Consider Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.
- The most effective policy is often designed with a clear adversary in mind. The Cold War laser-like focus on the Soviets provided the basis not only for Apollo 11 but also for reconfiguration of public education (Sputnik), expansion of nuclear arsenal and defense-spending (Reagan). Unfortunately, attempts to address racial inequality using such clearly defined and rigorously applied policy measures have never been attempted. Technology policy worked effectively against the Soviets because they were ‘the other.’ Developing a new domestic race policy with a technological education component will likely not be as effective because it lacks these characteristics. The unique relationship blacks have to and within the United States relegates them to a policy limbo.
- Technology develops and operates within a cultural discourse and its aspirations often reflect and affirm prevailing social norms, hierarchies, and ideals. In Kennedy’s case this was a particular vision of Western democrary and military supremacy. If we were to consider this in the context of STEM education policy today we would see an implicit affirmation that a technologist’s primary concerns should be market-driven and not tied to addressing social inequalities.
What can we draw from these observations? It will be easier to colonize the moon using cold fusion in partnership with Russia and Ukraine than to improve failing schools in Detroit, Atlanta, and Chicago.