Artificial Intelligence

There are so many different technologies that have come to the forefront in the past few years. Whether it is new advances in medicine, advanced weaponry being used by militaries around the world, or incredible innovations being made in the entertainment industry, it seems as if there are news stories about amazing new technologies popping up everyday. One technology that has received a substantial amount of news coverage in the past few years, though has been around for decades, is artificial technology. Various forms of artificial technology have been around for decades; however, there have been many new innovations in the past few years that have caused many people in the scientific community to be very excited. This paper will focus on artificial intelligence’s role in the world today, having a focus on the representation of artificial intelligence in popular culture, and what new innovations in artificial intelligence mean for the future.

Artificial intelligence is defined as “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.” Now when people see this definition, and think about the term “artificial intelligence” in general, they tend to think of very advanced forms of this type of technology. These people hear the words “artificial intelligence,” and immediately think of humanoid robots or super-computers that can solve complex equations in less than a second. While these are perfectly valid examples of artificial intelligence, and will be discussed later, they have only been developed within the past few years and have little value in the everyday life of most people. There are far many more examples of artificial intelligence that people seem to forget about and actually have a practical use in everyday life. Many things that you use in your everyday life are forms of artificial intelligence without you even realizing it. For example, anytime you use a calculator to solve a math equation, you are using a form of artificial intelligence. It is considered artificial intelligence because it solves equations by simply inputting data, something that would normally require human intelligence to accomplish.

A second example of artificial intelligence that one uses in everyday life is a smartphone. It seems that wherever one goes, he/she sees someone using a smartphone. Now, it is more surprising when someone doesn’t have a smartphone than when someone does have one, something that was reversed only five years ago. Although a smartphone in itself is a form of artificial intelligence, its various apps, or applications, are forms of artificial intelligence themselves. Various diet apps can keep track of calories and determine a daily food plan. Cameras can take photographs and automatically post them to various social media sites such as Twitter or Instagram. Workout apps can automatically keep track of the amount of weights lifted in various exercises and even suggest alternative exercises based on one’s type of workout. Smartphones will even be able to track emotions and daily activities in the near future. In a report by the MIT Technology Review, researchers at Microsoft Research Asia have developed a software that mimics brain functions called “deep learning” (Metz, 2015). This software will be able to recognize facial expressions to decipher one’s emotions and even, through an accelerometer placed on one’s wrist, determine if someone is performing such activities as eating a bowl of soup or brushing teeth. These forms of artificial intelligence in the product of a smartphone are incredibly exciting as we move forward; however, the most popular and thought of artificial intelligence when it comes to smartphones has to be Siri. Siri, or Cortana in Androids, is a form of artificial intelligence that can answer almost any question asked to it. It does this by sorting through answers on the Internet or providing answers by searching the vast memory available to smartphones. Although this type of technology seems ordinary today, five years ago this type of technology was absolutely revolutionary. Being able to ask a machine a specific, personal question and receive a specific answer in return was something only seen in movies; however, now it is a reality.

I have always been interested in the idea of artificial intelligence, and what it could mean for us now and in the future. One medium in which artificial intelligence has been very prevalent, and a medium that I have enjoyed immensely throughout my life, is movies. I have always had a fondness for movies, especially sci-fi/action ones. One thing many of my favorite movies, including Star Wars, Terminator, and Avengers, all have in common is they heavily feature artificial intelligence. In Star Wars, the audience is introduced to C-3PO, a humanoid robot that assists the rebels.  The cyborgs in Terminator are sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor and her son.  Avengers has Iron Man’s artificial intelligence, named Jarvis, assist him with tech development, and the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron will see the team square off against a form of artificial intelligence in the maniacal robot Ultron, who is attempting to eliminate the human race.  What has always intrigued me about these movies is that humans either have to rely upon something that is clearly not human, as such is the case with Star Wars, or destroy a technology that man originally made to help the human race.

In my own life, I have experienced and used a multitude of examples of artificial intelligence. One of the first experiences I can vividly remember of using a form of artificial intelligence is when my parents bought their first GPS. A GPS, or global positioning system, is a form of artificial intelligence that can accurately determine the location of a person and calculate the most efficient route to the destination that person is trying to reach. It is considered artificial intelligence because, basically, it is a computer system or series of systems that does a task (give directions) that would normally require human intelligence to do. I remember being in awe of how the GPS knew where we were, not understanding the concept of satellite tracking. I was in further awe of how the GPS could search for a multitude of different businesses and places, including restaurants and gas stations. Nowadays, it is fascinating the level at which people depend on a GPS for navigation. Whether it is on their phone or a traditional setup, most people would be unable to navigate a few miles from their homes. Many people do not even know how to read a map anymore. A second form of artificial intelligence that I have a lot of experience with is video games. Video games are an example of artificial intelligence when instead of playing against another human opponent, one plays against the A.I., or commonly referred to as the “computer” by gamers. When playing against the “computer”, it makes decisions in the game that a human opponent would normally make; additionally, one can set the A.I.’s difficulty to easy, medium, or hard, depending on how difficult of an opponent one is willing to face.

There have been many positive outcomes that have come from the use of artificial intelligence in our world today. One field in which innovations in artificial intelligence have significantly helped those in the field is the field of medicine. For example, there are now devices that can be implanted into a person’s body that release the correct daily amount of medicine that person needs. Additionally, there are machines, such as life support machines, that are able to keep a person alive and keep track of vitals such as heartbeat and brain function. A second field in which innovations in artificial intelligence have been made is transportation. For example, pilots can now turn on the auto-pilot feature of an aircraft that will fly the plane by itself. This significantly reduces the stress pilots face. A third field in which innovations in artificial intelligence have been made is the military field. For example, there are now drone technologies that can locate potential terrorists and predict where they will be and the potential threat they can be. Not even ten years ago, this type of technology was only seen in science fiction.

Artificial intelligence is one of the primary scientific issues that has received many ethical and cautionary questions in the past few years. There are still a large portion of people who fear what artificial intelligence may do in the future.  In regards to AI in industry, these people fear that this technology will “eventually…think faster than us and…get rid of the slow humans to run companies more efficiently” (Holley, 2015). An example of this already being done has to do with the various automobile factories around the country, and even the world. Many automobile plant workers have been laid off because companies are deciding to use robots to build the vehicles instead. They are doing this because it costs less money and is more efficient. Famous scientists/technologists such as Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, and recently Steve Wozniak have all expressed their concerns with the emerging dependence on artificial intelligence. Extremists among this group fear these devices of artificial intelligence, in time, will become so powerful that they can be used by those in power to cause harm to others. In Langdon Winner’s article “Do Artifacts Have Politics?”, he states that a form of technology can be democratic or totalitarian. It simply depends on those who use the technology, and the same can be said for those who use new innovations in artificial intelligence.

In conclusion, artificial intelligence, in short, is a technology that uses a computer system to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence to do. Although there are forms of artificial intelligence that are very advanced, there are also examples of artificial intelligence, such as calculators, that although are simple, yet very useful in the lives of everyday people. Artificial intelligence has been portrayed in various movies over the years, both in a positive and negative light. Although there have been many positive outcomes from the development of various forms of artificial intelligence, including innovations in transportation and medicine, there are still many people who are cautious of continuing to developer newer and newer forms of artificial intelligence. The verdict is still out whether or not these new innovations will end up harming or helping the human race.

Works Cited

Holley, Peter. “Apple Co-founder on Artificial Intelligence: ‘The Future Is Scary and Very Bad for People’.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 24 Mar. 2015. Web. 01 May 2015.

Metz, Rachel. “Deep Learning Squeezed Onto a Phone.” MIT Technology Review. MIT Technology Review, 9 Feb. 2015. Web. 01 May 2015.

Winner, Langdon. The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1986. Print.

Observation Essay on Artificial Intelligence

Many academic papers ask you to really think critically on a topic.  They require that you think hard on the topic, and do some type of critical analysis that helps you formulate your thesis.  The topic of this particular assignment for my blog post said to “write without any judgment”; keeping that in mind while I write this, I will attempt to take an unbiased view of the world around me as I reflect on artificial intelligence’s impact and role in it.

One way I think artificial intelligence has impacted society and the world is by causing people to depend on it so much.  Almost everyone, including myself, depends on some form of artificial intelligence or another that they are unable to live without it.  For example, I know that almost all of my friends cannot live without their phones.  They are always on them, whether they are checking different social media apps or texting other people.  Additionally, whenever I am walking around campus, I rarely see someone not using a some type of function on their smart phone, whether they are texting, listening to music, making a phone call, or doing any number of other actions.  I have only recently become significantly attached to my phone because I have not even had a smart phone for a year yet.  Although I have only recently become dependent on this form of artificial intelligence, I have become dependent on many other forms of artificial intelligence, which others have become dependent on as well.  One example is a GPS, which everyone nowadays seems to be using.  Almost everyone uses some form of GPS because we don’t attempt to learn directions anywhere nor look at a map.  I would be surprised if most people even know how to read a map anymore.  Another example of artificial intelligence people have become dependent upon is the calculator.  Most people cannot even do simple arithmetic in their heads or work it out on paper anymore.  They have to put simple multiplication problems into a calculator, and allow the calculator to solve it.

Now, what does this all mean?  How does it affect society as a whole on a mental and social level?  Well, through my observations, I believe that people have become increasingly lazy.  Whether it is looking up directions or exercising their mind, people have become too lazy to do the most menial of tasks.  We have even invented forms of artificial intelligence like devices that vacuum your house or mow your lawn by themselves.  We are even too lazy to do chores!  What does this mean for us going forward?  I believe that as we move forward, we will become too lazy to even move.  I know, this probably sounds a little extreme.  But the amount of physical activity we do today, even compared to that of 15 to 20 years ago, is staggeringly lower.  We are heading down a very slippery slope, one that we need to correct before we do too much damage to ourselves.

Class Archive

As I was looking through some of the previous blog posts, and remembering others throughout the year, one thing I noticed, and realized a few others also noticed, was the great variety of topics that we as a class have covered.  Blog posts have ranged from Egyptian funerary practices to sports technology to digital aspirin.  With our class wrapping up, and all of us exploring incredibly diverse topics for our final papers, I wanted to look back on one of the first topics we were all charged to write about—artifact politics—, and analyze how we all took a very different perspective on how to write about this topic.  I also wanted to look at one of the topics a classmate has chosen for his/her final paper—cinema.

Earlier in the year, we discussed how an artifact can have a certain political dimension after reading the work by Langdon Winner, and tasked with choosing an artifact and writing about its political dimensions.  I remember that I chose a gun, partly because I felt that it could have both democratic and authoritarian aspects when put into specific hands.  When going through all of the other posts about artifact politics, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the astounding diversity of topics we as a class chose.  Two posts that specifically interested me were about GPS and the pen.  The post about GPS really interested me because I had never fully realized all of the information wireless service providers, and even the government, had on us, which I believe to be an invasion of privacy.  The post about the pen also interested me because I never really thought about how influential, yet simple, an object a pen is.  I guess the saying “the pen is mightier than the sword” really is true.

Now to talk about one specific topic, which is cinema.  One student is choosing to write about cinema for his/her final paper, and this caught my eye because I have always had a special interest in movies.  I even considered writing about movies for my final paper, but ultimately  I have always been fascinated by the fact that two hours of film has the ability to change a person’s life.  Take The Wolf of Wall Street for example, a movie about a big-time executive on Wall Street during the 1980’s named Jordan Belfort.  After this movie hit theaters, many teenagers and college kids decided they wanted to major in business or finance so they could live the wild lifestyle shown in the movie.  One thing I enjoyed about this student’s post was how he/she evaluated the history of cinema, starting with a photograph and now today having CGI effects.  We discussed cinema in my communications class, and this student was basically spot-on when describing the history of movies.  I also like how the student described the evolution of film as an art form, from realism to surrealism.  One thing I would have liked for this student to include in his/her post is an analysis on the social impact cinema has had on society, particularly the United States.

In conclusion, I believe that we as a class have really developed a great blog site that analyzes various technologies and their different functions.  I hope that students in the future will look at this site and perhaps use it as a resource, or simply inspiration, for their own work.

Personal Research Reflection of Artificial Intelligence

As humans, we are influenced by a great multitude of things that can vary differently.  They can be abstract, such as dreams or ideas.  They can also be concrete, such as a beautiful landscape or a bustling city.  We are also influenced in many different ways.  We can be influenced both positively and negatively.  We can be influenced both consciously and subconsciously.  Many different influences have led me to write a research paper about artificial intelligence, and this blog post will describe these many influences.

Ever since I can remember, I have always had a fondness for movies.  I love how a director is able to capture a whole storyline in only a couple of hours.  Many of the movies I especially cherish are sci-fi action movies, such as Star WarsTerminator, and recently the new Avengers movies.  While these are only a few examples of such movies, they all serve a point for this post—they all include some form of artificial intelligence.  In Star Wars, the audience is introduced to C-3PO, a humanoid robot that assists the rebels.  The cyborgs in Terminator are sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor and her son.  Avengers has Iron Man’s artificial intelligence, named Jarvis, assist him with tech development, and the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron will see the team square off against a form of artificial intelligence in Ultron, who is attempting to eliminate the human race.  What has always intrigued me about these movies is that humans either have to rely upon something that is clearly not human, as such is the case with Star Wars, or destroy a technology that man originally made to help the human race.

In the Midwest of the United States, I have lived a pretty privileged life compared to others around the globe.  I have almost everything I want, especially when it comes to technology.  The artificial intelligence I use everyday, including my iPhone, laptop, and even my calculator would be seen as prized possessions, even rarities, in other parts of the world.  This is perhaps why I take a very conservative approach when it comes to artificial intelligence.  While others may view it as something that is spiraling out of control, perhaps one day leading to our extinction, I am unable to see it in this light.  My artificial intelligence helps me in so many ways everyday that I cannot imagine what it would be like to be without it.

One of the first real experiences I can remember with artificial intelligence was the first GPS my parents bought.  I remember being fascinated by how the device knew where our car was at all times.  I tried to think of how this was even remotely possible, not yet understanding the power satellites have in our world.  I remember asking it for close restaurants, and being astounded when a list of over twenty restaurants popped up on the screen.  I thought that it was the coolest invention ever.  Now that we live in an age where there seems to be nothing our smartphones can’t do, I don’t get that same feeling of wonderment I used to.  Though I do believe all of the great technological innovations engineers are making with artificial intelligence are great, they do not give me the same sense of wonderment as the GPS did because I have come to expect these innovations.

In conclusion, I first became interested in artificial intelligence through the many movies I watched growing up.  My first real memory of fascination with a physical source of artificial intelligence was my parents’ GPS.   Finally, because of my upbringing, I perhaps do not have some of the same reservations about the future of artificial intelligence that people from other parts of the country, even the world, do.

Artificial Intelligence in Movies

There are a few motifs that have been prevalent in science fiction/action movies in the past couple decades.  These topics include post-apocalypse, such as nuclear warfare or zombies, superheroes, and artificial intelligence.  Artificial intelligence is defined as “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages” (1).  In this post I will describe three different examples of artificial intelligence in movies—TerminatorAvengers: Age of Ultron, and Wall-E.  I chose these three movies because while most movies tend to focus on the fears associated with artificial intelligence, like those fears that come to life in Terminator and Avengers: Age of Ultron, the movie Wall-E shows the good that artificial intelligence can do for the human race and the Earth in general.

Two movies that portray the very negative direction that artificial intelligence has the possibility of heading in a semi-realistic setting are Avengers: Age of Ultron and Terminator.  Avengers: Age of Ultron sees the Avengers team of superheroes face off against the robot Ultron.  Ultron is a robotic technology developed to help the human race; however, Ultron begins to think that the best way to help the human race is to destroy it.  Terminator sees a cyborg sent from the future that tries to kill a mother and her young child.  This cyborg, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger,  is sent back by a robotic race that has taken over Earth. The computer program that developed into the robotic race was originally designed to help the human race by being an overarching program that controls all of the world’s technology and weapons.  While both of these movies are slightly fantastical, they both are clear representations of people’s fears towards artificial intelligence and technology in general.

One movie that goes against the mold and portrays artificial intelligence in a positive light is Wall-E.  In this movie, the robot Wall-E is tasked with cleaning the Earth after the human race has destroyed it due to littering and not respecting the Earth in general.  Wall-E has a deep fascination with human culture, and tries to do whatever he can to become slightly more human.  He continues to clean the Earth, even though humans have not inhabited the planet for hundreds of years.  Instead of a form of artificial intelligence that actively tries to harm humans, Wall-E tries to save them.

In conclusion, the movies Terminator and Avengers: Age of Ultron both demonstrate the fears associated with artificial intelligence.  Many people fear that A.I. can become too smart for its own good, and start to eliminate human beings so that the Earth can be safe.  However, the movie Wall-E shows the good artificial intelligence has the chance to do, though it is in a fictional world.  The main thing the disparity in these movies show is the direction that artificial intelligence has the possibility of heading.  It can either help the human race or destroy it.  Only time will tell which direction this exciting technology will head.

Works Cited


Artificial Intelligence

I have always been intrigued by the concept of artificial intelligence.  I think it is simply fascinating that humans are able to create a technology that can actually learn by itself and be smarter than the humans that created it.  There are numerous positive outcomes from artificial intelligence, and many more that will continue to be invented.  These effects can be seen in medicine, education. and daily life.  However, there is the constant fear that this artificial intelligence will become too powerful and intelligent.  If this happens, many fear that this artificial intelligence will become self-aware and believe the human race to be a problem it needs to eliminate.  I will further explore these two views.

You may not realize it, but artificial intelligence is everywhere in the world around us.  It has been incredibly helpful in the field of medicine by helping doctors diagnose diseases.  It can be seen in video games when you play the “computer”, as this opponent can make decisions similar in a game that actual gamers would make.  You can even set the AI to be easy, medium, or hard.  Artificial intelligence is used in airplanes as a way to guide planes safely.  Artificial intelligence is even present in your cell phone in multiple forms.  Siri is able to respond to your requests and questions by providing answers through her memory or by looking them up through the Internet.  A type of technology like this that can respond to almost anything asked to it was revolutionary when developed.  Even something as simple a calculator can be seen as artificial intelligence because it can provide answers to all different sorts of problems entered in it.

Even though there have been all of these positive effects and inventions that have come from artificial intelligence, there are still a large portion of people who fear what artificial intelligence may do in the future.  In regards to AI in industry, these people fear that this technology will “eventually…think faster than us and…get rid of the slow humans to run companies more efficiently” (1).  Furthermore, people believe that these AI will become self-aware and begin to exterminate the human race because they believe it is what is best for the planet, and even humanity as a whole.  Many of these fears have stemmed from the many movies that have showcased this exact situation.  Movies like Terminator, a movie in which a cyborg from the future tries to hunt and kill a mother and child that will eventually take down the robots in the future, and the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron, where a self-aware robot tries to destroy all of humanity, are just two of many examples that of movies that have added to this hysteria.  Famous scientists/technologists such as Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, and recently Steve Wozniak have all expressed their concerns with the emerging dependence on AI.  Only time will tell whether these fears will come true in the future.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that artificial intelligence has had many positive effects on society as a whole.  It remains to be seen whether this technology will continue to be helpful or will start to be harmful in the coming years.

Works Cited


The Exaggeration of Television and Movies

Zachary Konno

COMPSTD 2367.04

Seth Josephson

March 11, 2015

As humans, we look to various sorts of media in order to entertain ourselves.  Some play video games to escape from everyday life.  Some listen to music to feel all sorts of different emotions.  Still others read books to take off to fantasy worlds where the trials and tribulations of their own lives can melt away.  However, the most popular forms of media, especially for Americans, are television and movies.  This essay will discuss both of these media because they are very similar, as they are both audiovisual sources of media.  Although many television shows and movies try to rely on realism or plausibility to draw in audiences, many exaggerate what the scenario would actually be like in real life.  This essay will focus on the media of television and movies, the exaggeration that both of these use, and how the use of exaggeration can have a negative impact on the mass audience, while focusing on a specific genre and how this genre relates to the use of exaggeration as a whole.

Movies and television are audiovisual forms of media that are loved by audiences of all ages.  By today’s standards, they are the ultimate form of entertainment, bringing in billions of dollars every year.  Actors and actresses are some of the most famous people on the planet and are adored by countless people.  Movies as a medium transform human life in multiple ways.  They allow people to take on the thoughts of the lead character, forgetting about their own lives for a short while.  In the case of movies set in the past, Moller (2011) says, “It is not enough to simply call a medium of cultural memory, such as a movie, a representation of the past…” (p. 67).  They do more than represent the past—they bring it to life.  Movies also are a way to bring about social change.  Films such as American Sniper and Precious both are examples of how a film can change the way society views the world, with the former bringing more attention to the military and those soldiers affected by PTSD and the latter bringing more attention to the millions living in poverty throughout the United States.  Movies can often bring about political change.  Room (1988) writes, “In the years before Prohibition, the movies had been seen as major supports for the temperance cause” (p. 12).  Television as a medium can transform human life too.  When it is actually used on a television, advertising during commercial breaks can cause many viewers to buy a specific product.  Commercials can often take on a political agenda as well, showcasing campaign ads for city council members to prospective Presidents of the United States.  Langdon Winner (1980) says in his article Do Artifacts Have Politics? that either technology can be created for political outcomes, or political agenda can use established technology to bring about favor for a certain candidate (p. 122).  Product placement and brand name mentions also contribute to the political agenda of a movie or television program.  Secondly, when television programs are viewed on streaming services, such as Netflix, it allows the viewer to “binge-watch”, or watch multiple episodes in a row.  This can lead to sleep deprivation, lower grades, or even dehydration at times.

One ploy that many movies and television programs use is to base them off of “real life events.”  Viewers will watch these specific programs or movies because they feel as if the events can happen to them in real life.  They feel some sort of rush from this, whether it is the sheer terror of a “real life events” horror movie or the adrenaline-rushing gun fight in the story of a real policeman.  These exaggerations can do injustice to the people who actually had to live through these circumstances, especially if one’s rise to fame went through hardships not explicitly expressed in the movie or television program.  Exaggeration can also spill into movies or television programs that, though, are not based on real life events, could possibly happen under the right circumstances.  This term is referred to as “realistic fiction.”  One television genres that uses exaggeration, under the context of realistic fiction, is medical television shows.  This genre will be explored in the coming paragraphs.

As explained before, one genre of television that utilizes exaggeration, under the context of realistic fiction, is medical television shows.  Medical television shows put the viewer into the heart of a hospital, following the lives of doctors, nurses, surgeons, and other personnel both in and outside of work.  Since the shows are not set in some fantasy world or dystopian future, the viewer is led to believe that what happens in these shows could very well, and might, happen in real life.  Once the groundwork for a “believable” setting has been established, producers, directors, and writers can toy with the facts of specific diseases, procedures, and everyday life of a hospital, having blatant incorrect details of information.  One example of this type of program that greatly exaggerates everyday life in a hospital is ER.  ER is set in the emergency room of the fictional County General Hospital in Chicago, Illinois.  While this show does focus on the emergency room of the hospital, where more life-threatening injuries are treated, the degree and amount of injuries is highly disproportional.  “ER, for instance, was about the heroic things doctors do to save lives, and every episode was rife with calamity,” writes Joanna Weiss (2009, para. 4).  This is simply not the case with most emergency rooms.  Many patients that come through the ER are not in any sort of life-threatening state.  They are simply there because they feel some sort of discomfort, big or small, that needs attention faster than that would be provided by scheduling an appointment, or a cut or bruise that needs quick attention.  ER makes it seem as if every patient who comes through the doors of an emergency room has a gunshot wound to the chest or a metal spike protruding from a leg.  Granted, this show is based in Chicago, where the crime rate and urban atmosphere are likely to result in more serious injuries; however, the amount of serious injuries is still absurd.

Another medical television program that relies on these same principles of exaggeration and incorrectness, set within a believable setting, is House. House, often referred to as House M.D., follows Dr. Gregory House, a medical genius who leads a team of doctors at the fictional Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital in New Jersey.  One way House is guilty of having incorrect facts is through the use of made-up diseases.  “Even though all medical dramas have at least one doctor advising the script-writers,” writes Farrimond (2011), “they are still be pretty liberal with the truth” (para. 26).  Since the viewer is most likely not a medical expert, he/she will not be able to tell if the disease is made-up or true.  Many times, producers and writers will prey upon this unknowing of the audience, making up certain diseases that have sensational, often ghastly, side effects.  This is where the exaggeration portion of the program comes in.  Dr. House is forced to exert all of his medical genius to solve the case of the rare and deadly disease, usually minutes or even seconds before the patient dies. This is simply not the case in hospitals.  Doctors upon first examination, or after a few basic tests, can determine what illness the patient is suffering from.  Another way House has incorrect facts is by the myth that doctors do everything.  Using sarcasm, Farrimond (2011) writes, “Not only do Doctors have IQs off the scale and can diagnose and treat any condition; but they are also experts in operating MRI scanners, analyzing blood samples in the lab and performing complex surgery!”  Doctors heavily rely on the work of lab technicians, nurses, and surgeons.  It is completely ludicrous to believe that doctors could fit in the time to do all of these jobs, as well as the time it takes to work with the patient.

A third example of a medical television program that similarly uses exaggeration and incorrectness is Grey’s Anatomy.  Grey’s Anatomy is set in the Seattle Grace Hospital in Settle, Washington.  One way in which Grey’s Anatomy uses exaggeration is through the use of many calamitous injuries.  Similarly to ER, Grey’s Anatomy has a high disproportional rate for the amount of urgent injuries or diseases.  A large amount of patients that come in have been in serious accidents that need immediate surgery.  While this show may not utilize exaggeration as much as shows like ER, it utilizes many different examples of incorrectness.  One example of incorrectness Grey’s Anatomy has is the treatment their doctors suggest for multiple diseases.  Grey’s Anatomy has the doctors suggest uncommon, untested, or at times made up treatments for multiple diseases.  This is done to sensationalize the show, making it seem like the patient has a 50/50 chance of pulling through.  A second example of incorrectness this show has it the professionals’ disregard for protocol.  The doctors in this show often times go behind their bosses backs if they think they are correct in treating a patient.  They may also do this without the family’s consent, or even without the patient’s approval.  A third example of incorrectness prevalent in this show is the amount of relationships between doctors.  Farrimond (2011) writes, “…the hospital has been transformed from a bad-smelling institution for the sick to a hip and modern Club 18-30!”  In between shifts, there are always doctors, surgeons, and nurses in the show “hooking up” in break rooms, which rarely to never happens in real life.  Weiss (2009) writes that Grey’s Anatomy is “…a torrid romance novel disguised as a medical show.”  Additionally, many interns have relationships with higher-ups in the hospital, which is taboo in real life and very rarely happens.

One medical television show, however, that is actually fairly accurate is Scrubs.  Scrubs follows a doctor by the name of J.D. at Sacred Heart Hospital.  One way in which Scrubs accurately portrays hospital are the specialty stereotypes.  In the show, the surgeons are jocks, the doctors are nerds, and the psychologists are very sensitive.  This is actually very representative of how people in different professions in hospitals are actually like.  Secondly, Scrubs accurately portrays how it is for a doctor or surgeon to perform a procedure for the first time.  In the series premiere, J.D. hides in a broom closet with his friend Elliott as they hide from a code, or an emergency with a patient.  When J.D. finally does have to respond to an emergency with a patient, he messes up and has to ask for assistance from one of the veteran nurses.  Thirdly, the relationships in Scrubs are a lot more realistic than those of the likes of Grey’s Anatomy.  In Scrubs, you often see residents and residents in a relationship or interns and interns.  Rarely do you see the “lower” workers in relationships with the chiefs of staff or head surgeon.  The fourth and final way in which Scrubs is a more accurate depiction of a hospital is the competition between doctors or surgeons for a promotion.  Many episodes will feature a an intern brown-nosing a physician, often to get better patients, better hours, or a recommendation to be promoted.  All in all, Scrubs is a much better depiction of a hospital because it does not try to sensationalize it.  Sure, every once and a while there will be a patient with a life-threatening disease or injury; however, Scrubs focuses on the lives of doctors when they are not caring for a patient.  It focuses on them as they themselves go through the daily grind of being a doctor, from catching up on sleep in the break room after a grueling 18-hour shift or eating lunch in the cafeteria.  Scrubs is different because it does not try too hard, unlike other medical shows.

There are many ways in which the exaggeration and incorrectness of medical television shows has a harmful effect on viewers.  Similarly to how McLuhan (1967) believes that a form of media can shape the mass media, which can then lead to group thinking (p.9), the media of medical television shows can have the same effect.  They can cause viewers to believe that what is shown on the program is actually what happens in a hospital in real life.  They can expect to be rushed to the emergency room when they have a problem, when it actually takes almost an hour for a person to be seen by a doctor.  People who go into the medical field may think there will be action around every turn, when much of a doctor’s work is patient care and analyzing charts.  Viewers may believe that the treatments they see on these programs actually work, trying these on themselves and harming themselves in the process.  Finally, they may believe that doctors do everything in a hospital, leading to MRI technicians and nurses to be undervalued.

In conclusion, medical television programs, such as ER and House, are just one example of a genre of television or movies that uses exaggeration and incorrectness for a more sensationalized viewing experience.  The producers and writers of these shows are only looking at ratings or ticket sales, never thinking of the negative impact these programs or movies can have on the minds of viewers and the mass audience as a whole.  As society begins to rapidly move to a completely digital way of life, making the transmission of ideas much faster and easier, hopefully those in charge of these media of entertainment being to realize how great of an impact they have on society as a whole, and will work towards making this a positive impact instead of a negative one.

Works Cited

Farrimond, S. (2011, January 19). The top 10 medical TV myths. Retrieved from

McLuhan, M. (1967). The medium is the massage. United Kingdom: Penguin Books.

Moller, S. (2011). Blockbusting history: Forrest Gump as a powerful medium of American

cultural memory.  International Social Science Journal, 62(203-204), 67-77.


Room, R. (1988). The Movies and the wettening of America: The media as amplifiers of

cultural change.  British Journal of Addiction, 83, 11-18.


Weiss, J. (2009, May 6). Scrubs: Goofy, cartoonish, and the most accurate portrayal of the

Medical profession on TV. Retrieved from

Winner, L. (1980). Do Artifacts Have Politics? Daedalus, 109, 122.

The Self-Representation of Facebook

There are few human needs greater than that of the need to stay connected.  As humans, we feel the need to stay up to date as to what is happening in the world as a whole and the microcosm of our own world, most notably our friends.  We want to know what is going on in their lives and, at the same time, update them as to what is going on in our lives.  One way in which this has become incredibly easier, thanks to the invention of the Internet, is Facebook.  We all know the story: Mark Zuckerberg created the site as a rudimentary dating site for college kids at Harvard, and it has now transformed into a social phenomenon that has changed how we gain information of the world and our friends exponentially.  Says Doug Gross of CNN, “Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection” (2014). (1). However, how has Facebook changed us; namely, how has it changed how we view ourselves and how we represent ourselves online?

Facebook allows us to create a virtual profile, or self-representation of ourselves.  These profiles include age, school, workplace, and interests, among other things.  Through these few facts about ourselves and the things we post, others are supposed to gain a clear picture of who we are; however, it is difficult to determine the authenticity of these claims.  According to Watson (p. 2), ” Although the claim to authenticity promises unmediated access to some “essence” or “truth,” virtual environments only underscore the poststructuralist critique that self-presentation is performative” (2014). (2)  People want to believe what others say about themselves, but they can often lie and fabricate part of their identities.

Facebook has, in a way, changed who we are as a society, both collectively and individually.  Through Facebook and other social media sites, we now self-critique ourselves very harshly.  This can stem from seeing others posts and thinking their lives are immensely better than ours, or from others posting hurtful things on our posts or “walls”.  Through Facebook, we can easily vent our feelings on a particular subject and hurt others if we want to, all from the safety of behind our computer screens.  This has led to people thinking people they can say whatever they want, and there will be no consequences whatsoever.

We all want to put our best image forward, and Facebook allows us to do this.  We can only highlight the good aspects of our personality and being in general, and are able to hide our negative qualities that would much more easily come out if we were to meet face-to-face with someone.  Watson expands on this further, saying, “…however malleable and interchangeable identities are online, they are qualified offline by the complexity of embodied social identities” (2014). (2) This has led to many people being less social in the real world, or being less of a “peoples-person”.

In conclusion, Facebook has led to many changes in our lives.  It has changed how we can inform others about ourselves and how we gain information.  It has changed how we live and think in so many ways “that it tweaks our emotions, for better or worse” (Gross, 2014). (1)

Works Cited

Gross, D. (2014, January 31). 5 ways Facebook changed us, for better and worse. Retrieved from:

Smith, S.,Watson, J. (2014, April 21). Studying the digital self: Five analytical concepts that can guide scholarship on virtual lives. Retrieved from:

The Medium of Movies, Functioning as an Archive

There are so many different forms of entertainment that people turn to these days.  Whether it is video games, television, music, or reading, there are so many ways that people can escape their daily lives to provide themselves some sort of entertainment.  One entertainment medium that all people continually resort to is movies.  Movies have a way of bringing out a wide array of emotions, from making us laugh so hard our stomachs begin to ache to being so moved that tears begin to form.  Movies are a way to bring people together in ways we have never imagined.

Many times, the context of a movie is what draws people in.  Whether it is a sci-fi adventure, a romantic comedy, or a blood-curdling horror, people will see a movie for what they believe the movie will be about.  While the content is very important, one could argue that the medium of film is even more important.  This is something Marshall McLuhan discusses in his book The Medium is the Massage.  He argues that the context, or what happens in the movie) is what we take away consciously, and the medium is what we take away subconsciously.  He gives an example, saying the movies transformed “the world of sequence and connections into the world of creative configuration and structure,” (1) meaning that singular events by themselves can be grouped or arranged together to form a singular narrative.

Movies have transcended their role as entertainment to be able to act as a force for social change.  Take for example the movie American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, a Navy Seal who is the most lethal sniper in U.S. Military history.  One could simply view this movie as war movie without any social agenda; however, this movie has given me and many people around the country a greater appreciation for everything our troops do for us.  Without giving away any spoilers, this movie has once again brought the issue of PTSD into the forefront of very serious psychological conditions.

Movies have a way of teaching us lessons that classrooms and textbooks never will be able to do.  When something is presented in a way that students perceive as “fun”, they are much more likely to want to learn the material and retain it.  This is why many teachers will accompany a movie or short film clip along with a lesson: it provides students with a different medium through which learning is made possible.  This can also translate to issues outside of the classroom.  Syen Sultan Ahmed writes, “Movies based on issues that students face, help reflect on their own condition. Hearing about life through the lens of movie, gives an opportunity to see their lives more clearly and in some cases differently.” (1)

Movies can also act as an archive, or archives of many different things.  They can act as an archive of feelings in the sense they bring out emotions in us through the context of a film.  For example, there is not one person that does not feel sadness when Marley, the dog, dies is Marley and Me.  When reading this in an article, you would not cry; however through the medium of a film, one can experience greater emotion.  Movies act as a sort of technogenesis, changing us emotionally and socially.  Movies are also an archive of culture.  Films from one country differ greatly from those of another country, highlighting the cultural differences.

In conclusion, movies as a medium affect us in a way quite like nothing else.  We can experience a range of emotions while viewing them.  Additionally, they can teach us many things that classrooms cannot.  The next time you watch a movie, don’t just think of the context of it, think of the medium of film and how it adds or subtracts to the overall experience.

Works Cited

(1) Ahmed, S. S. (2009, December). Cinema: An effective tool to imbibe values in children. Retrieved from

(2) McLuhan, M. (1967). The medium is the massage. New York: Bantam Books.

Artifact Politics – Gun

As human beings,  it is in our nature to equate real-world objects with a certain set of outcomes.  A wailing ambulance alerts us to the fact someone is in injured.  A waiter’s tray full of steaming food as he walks by causes us to be more hungry as we await our own food.  Whatever the object is, we use it as a symbol for something else, a symbol that has been enhanced and reinforced in our minds since the day we were born, from television programs to lessons from our parents.  One object that is a symbol of danger, something that is deadly in the wrong person’s hands, is a gun.  Since the first guns, basically mini cannons [1], of the 1200’s to the enhanced, super-powered rifles of today, guns have always been a medium through which one can efficiently use force to get what he wants.

Guns have received lots of criticism over the past few years.  Gun critics have blamed these objects for the flurry of recent school shootings, calling for them to be banned.  Advocates have replied that a gun does not shoot by itself; if the person behind the gun has malicious intent, it is his fault for what happens.  Discussions over the Second Amendment have raised some interesting questions.  Are we better off without guns?  What kind of political arraignment does a gun support? And, finally, how can a gun upset the balanced order of society?

In the past, having a gun was one way to stay alive.  People would hunt wild game with guns as a source of food and clothing.  People still do this, but to a lesser extent because of the increased domestication of animals.  People also use guns as a measure of self-defense in their homes in case of any attacks.  Finally, guns can add to a criminal’s threatening demeanor.  Others are less likely to confront him, and he can be more intimidating, and use it as a weapon, when committing crimes.  These are just a few of the many forms of life that a gun can provide.

Many people ask if we are better off without guns, or, if laws should be put into place to prevent them.  One study by JAMA Internal Medicine looked at which gun laws worked best to reduce violent deaths.  The study showed that “they can provide “no firm guidance” about which gun laws work to reduce violence and how” [2].

When asked if a gun implies a democratic or authoritarian arraignment, one could answer either way.  Some say that it is every person’s right to own a gun, and that taking this right away cannot possibly be fair.  In this sense, guns are democratic, though potentially very dangerous.  On the other hand, guns can easily be authoritarian.  If no one is allowed to have guns except, perhaps, the military of a nation, the leader of the nation could order his military to use deadly force in carrying out his goals.  All that do not comply would be killed.  If only a select few have guns, they could push their own agenda onto the citizens of a nation, erasing any hopes of a democracy.

Guns can disrupt social institutions in a very clear way.  By pulling the trigger, one’s life can be over in snap.  This can be the murder of a parent, tearing a family apart.  This could also be as huge as the assassination of a world leader, causing huge amounts of people to act in frenzy.  There is no limit to the power of a gun.

In conclusion, as long as there are guns there will always be opponents and proponents of them.  We have to remember that they are very dangerous, whether in the hands of the few or the hands of the many.


[1] Supica, J. (n.d.). A Brief History of Firearms. Retrived from

[2] Healy, M. (2013, March 7). More Gun Laws Reduce Violent Deaths. Or do They?. Retrieved from

Image: [Bullet Stop Handgun]. Retrieved January 28, 2015