Dr. Dean Taciuch
George Mason University

Spring 2012

Honors 353: 005 & 008
Technology in Contemporary Society
Course Schedule

The schedule of readings will almost certainly change during the course of the semester, depending on the interests in the class. We may not discuss all readings in class, but you should be prepared to discuss the readings if and when they come up in class discussions.

Week 1 (Jan 24 – 26): Course Introduction and Concepts
Cybernetics, communication, codes, and control.
Begin Wiener, Human Use of Human Beings Preface and Ch 1

Week 2 (Jan 31 – Feb 2): Feedback
HUHB chapters 2-4
Futures of the 1950s clips
Response 1 (on negative feedback)

Week 3 (Feb 7 – 9): Homeostasis
HUHB chapters 5-8
Response 2 (on homeostasis)

Week 4 (Feb 14 – 16): the 2nd Industrial revolution
HUHB chapters 9-11
Response 3 (on 2nd Industrial Revolution)

Week 5 (Feb 21 – 23): Technological Singularity
Vernor Vinge, "Technological Singularity."
TED Talks: David Deutsch: A New Way to Explain Explanation
Kevin Kelly on How Technology Evolves
Essay 1 due Feb 23

Week 6 (Feb 28 – March 1): Predicting the Future
Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near Prologue and Chapter 1
Institute for the Future: The Future of Science 2021
The Long Now Foundation: the 10,000 Year Clock
Response 4 (on predicting future trends)

Week 7 (March 6 – 8): Technological Progress
TSiN chapter 2 and chapter 3 (sections "The Computational Capacity of the Human Brain" and "The Limits of Computation")
Response 5 (on the life cycle of a technology)

Week 8 (Spring Break)

Week 9 (March 20 – 22): Mind and Machine
TSiN chapter 4 (sections "Reverse Engineering the Brain," "Is the Human Brain Different from a Computer?" "Interfacing the Brain and Machines," and "Uploading the Human Brain."
TED Talk: Tan Le: A Headset that Reads Your Brainwaves
Response 6 (on uploading the human brain)

Week 10 (March 27 – 29): GNR
TSiN chapter 5
TED Talks: Richard Resnick: Welcome to the Genomic Revolution
Sheila Nirenberg: A Prosthetic Eye to Treat Blindness and Nirenberg Q&A
Essay 2 due March 29

Week 11 (April 3 – 5) : Research and Technology
Google, Databases, and Wikipedia
Synthesis: Using & Citing Sources
Response 7 (Research Topics)

Week 12 (April 10 – 12): Impacts and Identity
TSiN chapters 6-7
TED Talks: Antonio Damasio: The Quest to Understand Consciousness
Amber Case: We Are All Cyborgs Now
Response 8 (on consciousness)

Week 13 (April 17– 19) On the Other Hand
TSiN chapters 8 and 9
Bill Joy : "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us"
TED Talk: Bill Joy: What I'm Worried About. What I'm Excited About
Transcendental Man clips
Response 9 (on Joy)

Week 14 (April 24 – 26): In Conclusion
TED Talks: Alex Tabarrok: How Ideas Trump Crises
Peter Diamandis at TEDMED

Week 15 (May 1 – 3):
Peer Review of Research paper May 1
Exam Prep
Research Paper due May 3

Final Exams
Section 005: Thursday May 10, 10:30-1:15
Section 008: Thursday May 10, 1:30-4:15


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