Philosophy of Technology: Human vs Machine – Week 5

One of the main topics this week was the idea of a utopian/dystopian society created by technology.

We started the session by talking about computers and the way they think. They are not random, their task is to achieve a goal, they are goal-driven. Humans are much more random with their thoughts, we think just for pleasure, we ponder. When we think we don’t always have to have an end goal when we think about something.

Humans learn through experience whereas computers are always told what to do. An example here is the driverless car, humans program the car with certain algorithms and build in a set of values, but these are our values not the cars. Recently a Tesla car was involved in a fatal crash in Florida, Read the article here. The driver put the Tesla into ‘autopilot mode’ on the motorway.

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The reason the car crashed is due to sunlight hitting against a white vehicle and causing glare that the Tesla car did not distinguish. Humans understand and expect glare on a sunny day, it is something we learn from a young age through experience, nobody teaches us about glare, we just happen upon it. But a computer has to be taught everything and through huge amounts of data being fed into the system, it is not going to learn through experience.

We talked about dystopian societies and how most sci-fi films are dystopian in theme. Think of a sci-fi film and they are almost all dystopian! It’s true! Blade Runner, Metropolis, The Matrix, Gattaca, Minority Report, Frankenstein, V for Vendetta, Total Recall, the Terminator, the list goes on and on. We tried to think of a utopian sci-fi film and the only one we could think of was Star Trek. Funny that I am not a big fan of Star Trek, the dystopian films are much more interesting in my opinion.

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We discussed if we are in utopia or dystopia with technology now and we said we are coming into dystopia. The last few years have been a utopia with the rise of social media for the good and the explosion of new devices, 3D printing, apps and much more. However, more and more we hear about the negative impact of social media, cyber bullying, cyber crime, hacking, viruses, surveillance, data loss, addiction and many more issues.

We finished by talking about AI – artificial intelligence. We read that computers don’t produce meaning from their thinking, we are the ones that do this. Computers interpret symbols, it has reference but no sense. We saw problems with the word ‘manipulate’, we didn’t think that computers manipulate data, they mainly add and subtract, order and arrange data, not much more than that.

So, over half way through the course now, 3 sessions left.

Which 3D printer?

I am involved with 3D printing at my school and we are currently looking to upgrade our current printer with a new, dual-head machine. I thought I would have a look online to see what is available. Here are my current top 3 picks.

CreatBox DX Series – $2995

This printer has a bed size of 300mm x 250mm and a build height of 300mm. The build volume is 22.5 litres and the print resolution is 0.04mm. It has dual print heads semi-enclosed in a chamber with transparent walls and a heated glass bed. The extruder motors are placed at the back of the machine which apparently results in faster print speeds. The machine is apparently suitable for engineering and education, and has the ability to stack up multiple objects for production work, large architectural models, sculpture, jigs and fixtures, 3D printing people from scanned data. The extruders are interchangable and available in 0.4mm and 0.8mm. A small display shows the print status and allows you to pre-heat, control the printer and even load and print directly from an SD card slot. You can also make adjustments while printing, including changing the print speed, flow rates, temperatures and nozzles. Included with the printer are:

  • 4GB SD card
  • USB cable
  • Power cable
  • Tool kit, including scripture, spanner, tweezers
  • Adhesive sheet for bed
  • Miscellaneous spare parts
CreatBot DX

CreatBot DX

CreatBot DX screen

CreatBot DX screen

UP BOX Desktop – $2695

This printer includes a HEPA filter to remove air-born dust and other contaminants. It has a fully automatic platform levelling and height sense, so human interaction is not required. The build volume is 10 litres with a build size of 255mm x 205mm x 205mm. The promo material says it is ‘super quiet’ at 51db, as quiet as your fridge and is ‘fast’. The printer comes with a spool of white premium UP ABS. The print quality is 100 microns.



Leapfrog Creatr Dual Head – $2559

This printer has a build volume of 230mm x 270mm x 210mm, which is over over 13.6 litres. It now offers a minimum layer thickness of 0.05mm. The heated bed can print with ABS and PLA and it is apparently easy-to-use and has a high quality and stylish design. Its dual head extruder allows you to print with two different types of filament. Leapfrog recommend the Simplify3D software, however, this is not included and will cost an additional $125.

Leapfrog Creatr

Leapfrog Creatr

These are just 3 of the many printers currently on offer, and all 3 seem to have the features we are looking for at school. A bit more research is needed before we make a decision, however, the CreatBox seems to be the frontrunner at the moment due to its features and ease of use.