term: 2B

Society, Tech & Values: Financial Management for Engineers, taken in Spring 2019.


The machine cannot be divorced from its larger social pattern; for it is this pattern that give the machine meaning and purpose. —Lewis Mumford

Technology Matters: Questions to Live With by David Nye


anonymous feedback survey

in class engagement

bridging the 2 cultures

do computers make you a better student??

Define “better”. Is more efficiency equivalent to better? Is convenience necessarily better? Is faster better? Is there a “worse” then?

There is no easy answer: it depends on the context.

Technology brings accessibility, and hence convenience. But now, we know how to search for things, not how to remember the things themselves. This isusing computers as an extension of memory.

using new technology: is it really a choice of the individual?

To study technology, we must first recognize technology and the environment around it. Need to analyze technology and society taking the context/perspective into account: the relationship between tech and society differs per context (different people have different understandings of technology).

Step back from your own perspective: ditch your own assumptions. Only then can you further understand society and technology.

a human should be able to do everything. specialization is for insects.

two cultures by Charles Percy Snow

The Literary Intellectual vs the Natural Scientist: avoid antagonistic interactions else we’ll never going to solve world problems if we lose the common language to understand each other.

Strive for intellectual bilingualism: cross-literacy to understand both groups.

Snow blamed literary types for this “gulf of mutual incomprehension”.

Are education programs too specialized? Why do we need specialization?

Something you’re expected to know but your degree doesn’t teach you? communication with efficiency and sensibility (i.e. Johari window), ways of interaction for management?

Explain course and its ties with your degree? STAT206, relates to ML field of learning.

stories as a communication tool

Use stories to paint a picture when explaining a point across. Jargon is confusing. Stories are more universal ways to share information across disciplines.

Stories are inseparable from technology. To be discussed.

the bronze rat

Dude looks for souvenir, buys a bronze rat worth $10, whose story is apparently worth $1000 according to the store owner. Rats chase the dude and the bronze rat all the way to the lake. Dude comes back and says “do you have any bronze lawyers”.


how to read a textbook & study

study guide on learn

Scribble insights. Highlight interesting words or ideas. Print out chapter in Nye???

skim back at readings after the lecture/before the tests

Make connections between the readings and lecture.

Nye ch 1

preface, interesting chapters?

Audience of this book?

People who interact with technology frequently, especially as a career or as a specialization.

Large and general questions are hard to answer, so often we try not to answer them. BUT we need to live with these questions, because they’re important. (Questions to Live by)

what is technology?

“What does it do” is a limited way to understand technology.

Paul Edwards about infrastructure: the most salient characteristic of technology in the modern (industrial and post-industrial) world is the degree which most technology is not salient for most people, most of the time.

It’s more than just gadgets. What’s missing in this list?

do animals use technology?

YES: animals use technology to better guarantee their survival. It’s a tool or solution to a problem. Given their circumstances of living, it’s sometimes necessary to learn, think and evolve to use more efficient tools to pass on their genes and have higher chances to survive.


NO: animals don’t employ technology intentionally or naturally. The status quo is enough given good conditions of survival. Their nature will push them to find new ways or technologies if it’s necessary for their survival. But when animals are satisfied with their state of living, they will not use new tools if there is no problem to be solved. They are atechnical: so there is no nature nor nurture to push them to do things better when the current life is okay.


is technology a physical or tangible thing?

YES: technology is a physical thing. Just because we’re improving it or doing it in a new creative way, doesn’t mean that it’s now technology. It could be just a description or an idea: until it gets implemented.

Without the skill to manipulate it and achieve a goal/task, it’s not technology.


is technology applied science?

Have to be careful about this. The practitioners of science and technologies somewhat overlap: but they are not the same (i.e. differently valued in society).

YES: engineering is becoming more scientific, and technologies are better improved when knowing the concepts behind it. Iterations to better the technology apply the science.

There is a scientific underpinning for technology.


grain of salt: characterizing a certain methodology called science. There is too much lack of rigour before a couple centuries ago. What is science??

NO: technology can be improved or created simply by tinkering, without having discovered the scientific models or theorems that exist behind the technology. Often, the outcome and improvements can happen through experimentation: technology can exist without ever knowing science.

technology bias: what is a “tech” company

definitions and history

Technology shapes our imagination and how we in the world. Technology matters because it is inseparable from being human: by playing with technological toys, we imagine ourselves into a creative relationship with the world.

Technology is a complicated, contextual human activity, not just a device or a gadget. Do we shape them? Does tech shape us? Are we enriched or impoverished??

the linear model

Different points in time, different groups have valued things differently. Engineering == applied scientists, deliberately relates themselves to science. Society have long believed that science is more important and respectable: it ranks higher than technology.

But practitioners of science != creators. Different motivations… but there is clearly a relationship.

Linear model: hierarchy of prestige.

technology is the production of superfluities

Recognizing that we do more than animals. Uniquely human technology: such as fire. We envision new technology (creativity) and use technology to build further technology.

Technology for humans is universal. This argument does not apply to entire series (maybe certain subspecies).

Some animals do something, but not all animal technology is comparable.

there are different types of technology

Differentiate between animal technology and human technology.

technology as a method to manipulate our environment

technology is how things are commonly done or made

It needs a skill behind the physical object or tool. There’s process and knowledge behind technology.

Stories are intimately connected with technologies.

= “technology” is not well-defined.

First usage: Technology, an application of science, to the useful arts.

latin roots:

Techne: useful arts, crafts or skills. Has a definite end point

Logos: knowledge of, the study of.

Technology is the study of the useful arts: the principles, processes and nomenclature. Not things.

What does this exclude in Bigelow’s definition:

What does this include in Bigelow’s definition:

Nye ch 5

perspectives about technology


stories, context and artifacts

Nye ch 6

values and landscapes

Nye ch 2

technological determinism

Nye ch 4

alternative understandings


writing technology

Nye ch 7

technology and work

Nye ch 11

technology and progress

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