Culture, Intelligence, and Technology Chet Bowers (1999), in his article,
Why Culture Rather Than Data Should Be Understood As The Basis of Intelligence, argues that forms of technology (for example, computer-mediated thinking and communication) amplify and reduce certain aspects of an individual’s cultural experience. For example, he says, "the telephone amplifies voice over great distances but reduces body language and other contextual cues that are part of a more complex and significant process of semiosis" (p. 38). According to Bowers, a similar phenomenon exists when we view (amplify) intelligence as (1) individualistic; (2) linear; and (3) separate from culture. What is unfortunately reduced is embodied, tacit, and intentional intelligence.
Bowers faults cognitive theorists (for example, advocates of information processing and constructivism), artificial intelligence and technology experts, and capitalists as the creators and perpetuators of the "information equals intelligence" metaphor. One major problem he sees with this view of intelligence is that we "misrepresent both the culturally specific nature of intelligence and the need to assess its forms of expression in terms of moral criteria that take account of what constitutes a just and sustainable community and ecosystem relationship" (p. 31). Bowers continues:
The emphasis on the "processes" of intelligence has led to awarding our highest degrees to people who too often devote their thinking skills to creating technologies that introduce toxins into the environment and to persuading the public to buy more consumer goods. Our current way of thinking about intelligence also has led to the empowerment of elite groups of technologists who are working to develop smarter and more complex computer systems that will further reduce the need for human workers (p. 31).
The irony here is that we are valuing that which will eventually destroy us while ignoring that which will save us (for example, elders’ wisdom, traditions, communities, and a healthy environment). What do you think of Browers’ claims? How do you think his words compare with Sternberg’s (2009) discussion of cultural context and intelligence (pp. 548–553)?
Please answer the discussion question by (1) referring to and integrating ideas presented in the text and any supplemental readings; (2) citing outside resources if necessary to make your point; and (3) following APA style guidelines for citations and references. You will be evaluated on how well you can demonstrate that you understand the ideas presented throughout the unit, including assigned readings, discussions, and independent investigations. You will also be evaluated on the quality of your work—its academic rigor, how well it shows your ability to think critically, and how completely it covers the questions asked.
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