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Steven R. Cox, Ph.D.

HON-H 399
Technology:  The Impact on Our Lives
Indiana University Kokomo
Dr. Steven Cox
Fall 2007

COURSE SYLLABUS (Print Friendly Version)


Wednesdays 2:30 – 4:30 PM


KO 110 

Office Hours:

Monday and Wednesday,  1:00 – 2:00  (and by appointment or walk-in)


KO 174J

Office Phone:

(765) 455-9314 

Home Phone:

(317) 696-0571 

Office FAX:

(765) 455-9348



Web Site:


Required Text:

Taking Sides:  Clashing Views in Science, Technology, and Society, Easton, Seventh Edition

Prerequisite: This course is open to students admitted into the Honors Program or with a GPA of 3.3 or better.

This course will examine the impact of technology on our lives. In the twenty first century it is impossible to avoid the issues (ethical, behavioral, political, economic, i.e.) that relate to the technology explosion we are witnessing. In this class we will investigate the pros and cons of the impact of technology on: the military and diplomacy, medicine and health, science and the environment, the labor market and e-commerce, communication and personal relationships, and censorship, privacy (first and fourth amendment issues).   




Providing Material and Class Participation


Film Papers and Discussion


Book Review and Presentation





Students earn points through both attendance and participation.  The attendance portion of the grade is straight forward.   Attendance at each of the 15 scheduled classes is worth 10 points each.  Each student is allowed to miss one class and still receive the 10 points. There is no other mechanism for “authorized absences”. Students not present for the entire class will receive a prorated portion of the 10 points. 

Providing Material and Class Participation:
The primary goal for each class period is learning through the enjoyment of a lively and informed debate. Material for the course is expected to be primarily student provided. Seven points are available for each class period after August 22nd. Preference will be given for material provided one week ahead of time so that the rest of the class will have time to prepare. Students who provide material will be responsible for in-class initial presentation of the material and subsequent “guiding” of the class discussion. Substantive class discussion without contributing material can result in a maximum of 3 points.      

Ten classic “technology” films will be viewed (not in class). Students will write a one page “review” of each film focusing on their interpretation of the message regarding science and technology. Six of the films will be discussed on October 10th and the reviews are due on that date as well. Four films will be discussed on November 14th and the reviews are due on that date. DVDs of all films are available from the instructor. Each review and related class discussion is worth 10 points.

Metropolis (1927) Brazil (1985)
2001 – A Space Odyssey (1968) Gattaca (1997)
Andromeda Strain (1971) Dark City (1998)
Solaris (1972) A.I. (2001)
Blade Runner (1982) I, Robot (2004)

Book Review:
Each student will read one book relating to technology. A list of suggested books is below but students can propose an alternative selection. The written review should be 4-5 pages. The book and related review will be presented to the class for discussion. The written review and class presentation is worth 50 points.

Where the Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet
(Hafner and Lyon)
Brave New World
Technophobia: Science Fiction Visions of Posthuman Technology (Dinello) The World is Flat
Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Next Generation
Geeks: How Two Lost Boys Rode the Internet Out of Idaho
Soul of a New Machine

Grading Scale:

96% - 100%


90% - 96%


89% - 90%


86% - 89%


80% - 86%


79% - 80%


76% - 79%


70% - 76%


69% - 70%


66% - 69%


60% - 66%


59% - 60%


Below 59%







Library Usage:
The IUK library system offers a large variety of resources for the student to supplement the content of this course. Examples include current newspapers (Wall Street Journal), magazines (Business Week, The Economist), databases (ABI Inform), and access to the Internet.

Disability Issues:
Indiana University Kokomo provides equal access and support services to students with special needs.  Students with documented disabilities should contact the University Division (455-9309) and discuss any necessary support services or accommodation with the instructor. 



Tentative Class Schedule




Technology and Film

Aug. 22

The Role of Science and Technology in Society

Issue 1.  Does Politics Come Before Science in Government Decision Making?

Issue 3. Should Creationism and Evolution Get Equal Time in Schools?

Aug. 29

Military and Diplomacy

Power and Weakness by James Kagan

The Unmanned Army by Matthew Brzezinski

Military Gulf Separates U’S. and European Allies by Steven Erlanger

Robot Wars by The Economist

High-Tech Weapons: A Loss Of Control? by Business Week

Sep. 5

Community, Citizenship, and Human Relationships – Part 1
Issue 14  Does the Internet Strengthen Community?
Does the Internet Strengthen Community? by William Galston

A Newer, Lonelier Crowd Emerges in Internet Study by John Markoff

Sep. 12


Community, Citizenship, and Human Relationships – Part 2

When Do You Stop The Presses? by Business Week

Why E-mail is Bankrupt by Business 2.0
Issue 15  Does the Spread of Surveillance Technology Threaten Privacy?

Sep. 19

Human Health and Welfare

Issue 7   Do Falling Birth Rates Pose a Threat to Human Welfare?
Issue 10 Should Potential Risks Slow the Development of Nanotechnology?

Sep. 26

Science Fiction?
Issue 11  Should We Expand Efforts to Find Near-Earth Objects?

Issue 12  Is the Search for Extraterrestrial Life Doomed To Fail?

The Planet Hunters by The Economist

Issue 13  Do Humans Belong In Space?

Will Computers Ever Think? by Joe Cuchiara


Oct. 3


Discussion of Metropolis, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Andromeda Strain, Solaris, Brazil, and Dark City




Medical Ethics

Issue 17  Is the Use of Animals in Research Justified?

Issue 18  Should Genetically Modified Foods Be Banned?

Issue 19  Is it Ethically Permissible to Clone Human Beings

Wanted: Perfection (Pre-Natal Testing) by The Economist

Is This Really The Next Big Thing? by The Economist

Lifestyle Drug Binge by Business Week

Oct. 17


The Environment – Part 1

Are Human Activities Significantly Changing the World Climate? (To Be Provided)

Issue 4  Should Society Act Now to Halt Global Warming?

Are Environmental Regulations Too Restrictive? (To Be Provided)

Oct. 24

The Environment – Part 2

Issue 5  Is It Time To Revive Nuclear Power?

Issue 6  Will Hydrogen Replace Fossil Fuels For Cars?

Beyond the Prius by The Economist

A Stairway to Heaven? by The Economist

Gassed Up (Synthetic Biology) by The Economist

Battle of the Mountain Tops (Coal) by The Economist

Where the Wind Blows (Power Transmission) by The Economist

Oct. 31

The World is Flat – The Impact of Technology on the Economy
Summary of The World is Flat by Friedman

Technology on the March (The Future of Work) Business Week

Nov. 7

Discussion of Blade Runner, Gattaca, A.I., I, Robot



Nov. 14

Presentations of Book Reviews

Nov. 28

Presentations of Book Reviews

Dec. 5