This is my response to the Steve Fuller TEDx lecture (link below) on defining humanity, guided by the questions set by the tutors of the MOOC.
Humanity 2.0: defining humanity - Steve Fuller’s TEDx Warwick talk
First of all, I could watch/listen to this guy all night, a wonderfully charismatic lecturer.
"Education is a dying art" Fuller jokes while discussing the ancient artifice of trying to make people human through education, aspects of which are dealing with others, speaking in sentences, looking each other in the eye, justifying your opinion, taking others opinion. Initially I thought he was having a dig at someone not paying attention at the back, but I think it is a comment on how some people conceive online/distance education, how education is devalued through a lack of face to face contact. But as we shall see later, it is quite the opposite.
He goes on to talk about the modern artifice of enhancement. Enhancement of ourselves to become more fully human. If we accept that education is a path towards humanism, then I feel we are already using enhancement through technology. The Internet gives us instant access to limitless information, our mobile devices allow to record every thought, we can store and retrieve masses of data and social networking allows us to collaborate and share ideas. While these are not physical enhancements to our own body, they are enhancements to our brains capacity to access, hold and learn new information.
Professor Fuller notes that there is a historical precedent for only some homo sapiens to be human. An idea, which is abhorrent to a modern day humanist and non fundamental theist alike, all men are created equal etc. However, he mentions that we have failed in our human project of equality for all, there are still obvious inequalities in gender, race and class throughout the world and this is reflected in education. For example, in part of the world where I currently reside, Bedouin (nomads) and their descendants are not entitled to a free state education, but are unable to leave the country as they have no passport. There are countless other examples including the lack of education for women in some countries. However, Fuller finishes his presentation by stating that the old humanist project should not be stopped in order to reassert our humanity, we must continue the fight for equality. Giving access to education for all is a necessary component of complete equality. Education technology can achieve this through providing free education for all, once there is a network. MOOCs are a prime example of how this can be achieved. Thousands of people, who are equal (e learning is a great leveller) connected, working together, sharing ideas in one space, this could include the bedouin and the girls who aren't allowed to go to school. It's got to be a good thing.