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Yes, It Matters.

KT's picture

In class on Thursday we tried to find agency in a world of algorithms… a daunting task. At one point, as we struggled without an answer, Miranda gave a sly smile and suggested that we should just not think about it. She said that prior to taking this class, she didn’t think about it and her life was fine. Although I agreed with this initially, I think that argument may only be one made from frustration so I’d like to make the case against it. 

I’d like to compare humans to dogs. I would argue that dogs don’t think about their agency, they seem to live moment to moment enjoying the words, “walk” and “treat” and disliking squirrels and cats that happen upon their yard. By contrast, humans [with presumed agency?] aren’t confined to this single mode of existence.  Mentally we have an ability to consider future possibilities to inform our present thoughts and actions and an ability to pursue our goals. Whether we're looking for happiness, self-actualization, family, money or anything else, our greater capacity to plan, learn, consider and think gives us choices and paths. So why should we think about our agency?   Because the answer is important! If we don't have agency, we’re not responsible for our behavior, actions or goals. Agency gives us the key tool we need to change, improve and make a difference. Without this, we are just dogs barking up a tree.

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