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Technology, Engineering Ethics, and Group Work

This week, the only way that any of my group projects have occurred in any form has been due in part to the easily shared online document creation. We have all of these technologically-driven tools to assist us in connecting, sharing ideas, and coming up with a plan of action. I’m extremely grateful for the whole Internet thing, y’all.


However, it makes me wonder about areas of this country that do not have as readily available access to information sharing, among other commodities considered essential (looking at you, clean water) in our homes. I taught a class for a private school in Roanoke a few years ago. I did not realize until after midsemester that some of my students were not getting reminder emails, updates, or information that I was sharing online, because they did not have at home access. They were only able to use their iPad-textbooks online at school or at public wi-fi locations.


As a choice, when I first moved to Virginia Tech in July 2013 for graduate school, I challenged myself to go without at-home Internet for as long as possible. I think that I crumbled mid-September. There were just so many things that I was missing out on every single day – course communications, news updates, campus information, and entertainment. There was no way to keep up after I left VT’s campus, because the local library (and access to WiFi) is only open so late in the day.


I was miserable, having to travel in order to reply to an email. I had to do a lot more pre-planning, ensuring that I had downloaded all of the articles that I needed to read before getting home. I wasn’t able to instantly respond to anything. It seemed like I lived in a time delay.


On the other hand, I was free – free from the instantaneous demands of inbox notifications. If I didn’t have home internet this week, or internet in the homes and hotels where I was staying….nothing could have been accomplished. I would have let my teammates down.


We are all so dependent on the internet, but I’m still afraid of the day that toasters take over the world, either because they have been hacked or they have achieved sentience.

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