As human beings, we create artefacts and technologies to safeguard our well-being and advance our society; it is therefore critical that these artefacts and technologies actually reflect our human values. In this course, students will work in groups of 3-4 to envision a piece of imaginary technology and examine whether and how their technology is good for human life and society. This examination is done through five reflection activities, aimed at teaching students how to use philosophical, psychological and design frameworks to answer the following questions about their imaginary technology:
- Why should the technology exist?
- How can one design the technology to achieve the intended values
- How would one know when the intended values have been achieved?
- How might creative speculation change the design of your imaginary technology?
- How does adding machine intelligence affect your value proposition?
The course alternates between weeks where the instructor provides context through lecture and lead group-based reflection activities, and weeks where students present and discuss the lessons learned through their reflection activites. Based on the reflections, students will evolve the design and features of their imaginary technology throughout the term. Students will also have the opportunity to gain interdisciplnary perspective, by working with student groups from a Faculty of Arts course on Technocritical Writing & Design (ENGL 494). The course will end with a project showcase and celebration event held jointly with ENGL 494 at Communitech, where students will present a museum exhibit describing the "history" of their imaginary technology, i.e., its design evolution resulting from the reflection process. The main components of the course are described below.
1. Reflection Activities and Writeup
During lecture weeks, students will work in groups to complete the reflection activities, and write up a 1-2 page summary of their reflection by addressing a set of guiding questions.
There will be bi-weekly presentations, where students present the lessons learnd from their reflection activites and how they have evolved the design of their imaginary technology. Presentations should be 15-20 minutes long, followed by a 5-10 minute discussion. Each team can designate one person to present, and another person to act as the discusssant.
3. Museum Exhibit
Based on the reflection writeups, student teams will create a physical or digital museum exhibit to introduce their imaginary technology and describe how the reflection process has guided its design evolution. The exhibit will be presented at the project showcase and celebration event at the end of the term.
Students are expected to attend class; in addition to lecture, which provides the necessary background to facilitate the reflections, students will be engaged in a variety of design and reflection exercises during class time. Special consideration can be made for a few exceptions (e.g., academic travel, illnesses and family emergencies). However, students must discuss their anticipated absence with the instructor. In the event of illness due to COVID, please stay home
Students will be evaluated on the quality of their participation (in-class discussions), reflection writeups, presentations, and final museum exhibit.
- in-class participation: 5%
- technology brief: 5%
- reflection writeup: 45% (9% per reflection)
- presentations: 30% (6% per presentation)
- museum exhibit: 15%
Deliverables and Late Penalties
All deliverables are due 5:00 pm on the due date. Late penalties for all deliverables: -5% for each additional day (5:01 pm to 5:00 pm).
IMPORTANT: If a deliverable was not submitted before the next deliverable due date, you will get 0% for this assignment. Furthermore, you are not allowed to submit the next deliverable if the previous deliverable was not submitted. Failing to submit all the deliverables by the end of the term may result in failing the course.
In order to maintain a culture of academic integrity, members of the University of Waterloo community are expected to promote honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. See
http://uwaterloo.ca/academic-integrity for more information.
A student who believes that a decision affecting some aspect of his/her university life has been unfair or unreasonable may have grounds for initiating a grievance. Read Policy 70, Student Petitions and Grievances, Section 4. When in doubt, please be certain to contact the department’s administrative assistant who will provide further assistance.
A student is expected to know what constitutes academic integrity (check https://uwaterloo.ca/academic-integrity/) to avoid committing an academic offence, and to take responsibility for his/her actions. A student who is unsure whether an action constitutes an offence, or who needs help in learning how to avoid offences (e.g., plagiarism, cheating) or about “rules” for group work/collaboration, should seek guidance from the course instructor, TA, academic advisor, or the Undergraduate Associate Dean. For information on categories of offences and types of penalties, students should refer to Policy 71, Student
Discipline. For typical penalties, see the Guidelines for the Assessment of Penalties.
A decision made or penalty imposed under Policy 70 (Student Petitions and Grievances) (other than a petition) or Policy 71 (Student Discipline) may be appealed if there are grounds. A student who believes he/she has grounds for an appeal should refer to Policy 72 (Student Appeals).
Note for Students with Disabilities
AccessAbility Services (formerly the Office for Persons with Disabilities), located in Needles Hall, Room 1132, collaborates with all academic departments to arrange appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities, without compromising the academic integrity of the curriculum. If you require academic accommodations to lessen the impact of your disability, please register with AccessAbility Services at the beginning of each academic term.