Saturday, November 28, 2015

Re: [Yasmin_discussions] Grand Challenge for Science and Engineering: Self-Knowledge- an open call to Humanists

I'd like to take part of your commentary below and provide my view.
I will include Mitcham's essay web link so that readers have something
easy to click:

Your comment:

"These arguments are a relief beacuse many of us in the art/sci/tech
> community have despaired that ofen the arts and humanities are
> 'instrumentalised' with their being viewed as "in service' to the
> dominant technoscientific culture we are in- the mantra
> art/science/creativity/innovation/entreneurs/jobs/employment fails to
> ask the deeper question of what kind of world, and embedded values, do
> we want to build. The interaction of Science/Engineering with the
> Arts/Design/Humanities needs to be a symmetric process of mutual
> influence and mutual benefit and Mitcham articulates some of these
> arguments."

Please explain how you feel instrumentalized. From my perspective, it is the other
way around. Most in the arts and humanities are the ones doing the using, to the
point where the rich history and methods of mathematics, science, and engineering
disappear behind buzzwords like "technoscience." Note that Harold (who provides the
first comment to Mitcham's essay, at the end of it) provides a simple, yet practical,
response. I wonder how you might respond to Harold's concerns? I agree with you
that we should reflect upon the "kind of world" we want to build, but I'd say we are
doing that in our writing, and with our votes within a democracy. Mitcham's essay
will appeal to the already-converted, but I don't see anything substantial in answering
Harold's first question. What would Mitcham change? What courses should be added or

I will close with a note on the definition of "human." As Petroski indicates by way of a
book title, "To engineer is human." The very idea of "human" is predicated on the
use of tools—bettering ourselves and evolving as a species because we learned
how to first use a stick. Critical reflection arrived on the scene much later (eastern
philosophy (e.g. China) and in the West (e.g., Greece). The disciplines that make
technology possible are mathematics and its progeny; the sciences and engineering.

I feel a blog post coming, but perhaps it is a bit premature until the dust has settled.


Paul Fishwick, PhD
Distinguished University Chair of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication
Professor of Computer Science
Director, Creative Automata Laboratory
The University of Texas at Dallas
Arts & Technology
800 West Campbell Road, AT10
Richardson, TX 75080-3021
Blog 1:
Blog 2:
LinkedIn: metaphorz
Twitter: @representationz

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