Interim Assignmentto be executed during the week of Oct.7 -Oct 14., when there will be no class on Monday Oct. 7, and on Wednesday Oct. 9.
An 'interim assignment' (as part-work for the final project), due, in printed from, Monday morning Oct. 14 at the beginning of class.
Every group is asked to give evidence of the research they have done so far on the structures that they have chosen to investigate.
You are asked to gather references to books and publications (or, better yet, copies of the actual publications),copies of photographic and digital images, drawings, links to video clips etc.
You are also asked to supply a simple sketch and outline of the approach your team will take to represent, in physical form, the structural principle(s) that from the basis of your chosen structures. If the model requires workshop activity, make sure to consult with David Speller about feasibility and supplies needed.
| A forty-two
story highrise built out of
Will human civilization on Earth be imperiled, or enhanced, by our own world-changing technologies? Will our technological abilities threaten our survival as a species, or even threaten the Earth as a whole, or will we come to live comfortably with these new powers?
Here’s Newitz’s answer:
If there is any kind of tool-making skill that humans excel at most, it’s creating dual-use technologies. Often, our greatest technological achievements — say, trains in the nineteenth century or computers in the twentieth — can be used to improve our environments and to degrade them. As we look to the future of our civilization, we have to bear in mind that our tools will never lead to an either/or proposition in terms of progress. There will always be ambiguities. The burgeoning field of geoengineering, which could one day help us draw down excess carbon from the atmosphere and improve the environment, could also be appropriated by the military to wage war with weather. Synthetic biology could be used to enhance the health and abilities of our species, or to launch a racial purity movement.
And this isn’t a new story. Humans have made dual-use technologies since our ancestors began chipping out flake tools — which are great for making food and clothes, but also great for murdering. There is a kind of grim hope to recalling this story from our early evolution. Despite our worst instincts, we have made it this far, often fumbling, but always solving our problems with tools. We are not perfect, and sometimes we make horrible mistakes like relying on fossil fuels for energy, or building atom bombs.
Now, we are on the brink of understanding how to use the Earth itself as a machine to solve the problems our industrial technologies have created. As I said, our history offers a grim hope. With each new error, we build tools to remediate what we’ve done (though admittedly we then make more mistakes). It’s important to remember that there is no one thing we can do, nor any one technology we can deploy, that will guarantee all humans will use their powers wisely. Still, we can invest our efforts in new development as wisely as possible, choosing solar over coal and biodiversity over factory farms. In coming centuries, I believe we’ll strive to make the anthropocene comfortable for as many species as possible, if only for the selfish reason that it will make us comfortable too. My hope is that in the very act of inventing tools to improve the environment, we will come closer to understanding our place on the planet, as well as in a global society of creatures like ourselves.