Sunday, November 8, 2009

How do the kids know and what do we say

I’m curious to hear how the knowledge you gain from this site or others regarding emerging technologies translates to your kids. If you don’t have them have you thought about them in relation to the larger topics? As adults we talk about emerging technologies, but I wonder how much we factor in kids and their futures in our discussions. I’m not talking about designer babies. I’m talking about things like life-casting, global catastrophic risks and human enhancement to name just three that popped in to my mind.

With life-casting, I’ve looked at the articles, very interesting stuff. I’ve been wrestling with my opinions about it and whether or not I think I could do it or not. Then tonight, it hit me. If this takes off and people in society at large do adopt it, when exactly do we want those memories we are recording to start? I could have missed this discussion and if I did, please send it to me, but how would it be to have kids life-casting? What are the ethics involved in this? Not to mention what was life like as a child that I would want to see again. Nostalgically it would be great to have documented my life and be able to go back and see my mother young and illness free. HOWEVER, there is that whole awkward grade school & high school phase. My last name was Winternheimer, so there was a bit of name calling.

Aside from the awkward childhood moments, how young would we, as a society, be willing to go? Would there be a legal age and if so when? What about implanting a recording device in utero? It would be very cool to see that experience and then on up through life wouldn’t it? But just because we can, should we? I don’t have the answers yet myself.
So let’s move to global catastrophic risks, a topic that is something that deals, in my opinion with some educational issues. Are we talking about these types of scenarios and plans with the next generations? Or, better phrased, are we talking about science, math and applying critical thought to future scenarios? So that they can weigh in the options of what just might come about and how we can help out our fellow man. I read recently the idea of we need more cool scientists, something the kids want to be when they grow up. I know some of you, and damn it, you’re cool! You have a passion for what you do, and kids need to see that passion and feel that passion. (Read the intro to The Canon by Natalie Angier)

Finally, human enhancement which is a topic that kids probably have heard more about even if they don’t directly know they have. So, what do they know? Is it worth a discussion with them? I think so. I think that there is value in talking with them about grandma’s heart that is a machine and not the one she was born with. I go back again to the wonder of science. For example, when the time came when my mom was ill, I talked with my son about science and technology. We talked about what helped keep her alive and with us much longer than she should have. When Obama talked about science & technology in regards to medicine, my son knew what that meant for people out there. Is it using the terminology of enhancement that makes people step back? There are many different types of enhancement where are we in society when it comes to the discussions with kids?

The point I’m trying to make is that there are lot of questions to be asked and it seems that the discussion is an important one to have. It would be nice to see abundance in the next generation that is able to understand the technologies that are discussed, but to also be critics and skeptics as necessary.

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"I was on acid and I looked at the trees and I realized that they all came to points, and the little branches came to points, and the houses came to point. I thought, 'Oh! Everything has a point, and if it doesn't, then there's a point to it.'" -- Harry Nilsson