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Author: sunny.kim

The Social Dilemma

The Social Dilemma documentary opened my ignorant mind to the reality of the internet and social media. I have always been aware that the internet collects information about me, but I didn’t know where the information went. That idea that the internet can’t do me any harm made me shrug off the fact that the internet was collecting information about me. However, this documentary made me realize I was, like the boy, was becoming hypnotized and addicted.

One major piece of information that worried me the most was that our generation is becoming more insecure — hospitalization due to self-harm and suicide rates are higher than ever, and no one seems to be confident in themselves anymore. We are exposed to an ocean of information, but as tweens or teens, we haven’t yet fully developed the ability to discern helpful information from the rest. We are vulnerable, and this quality of our generation is exactly what tech companies are exploiting. In some ways, this is a negative feedback cycle; they generate algorithms to exacerbate our anxiety, stripping us of our identity, which acts as a fuel for them to generate profit. This scenario seems like it would happen in a sci-fi dystopian movie, where what makes us human is objectified and used to generate profit.

The documentary also shed light on how society is more polarized than ever, due to the constant indoctrination of extreme beliefs that seem to enforce our biases, turning us into one of those racing horses with blinkers (fig. 1).

 

Fig.1

The documentary said democracy was at risk because other nations, without infiltrating a nation’s borders, can directly influence the results of an election using social media platforms to instigate turbulence and instability. The Rwandan genocide and Russian interference in the American election are examples of democracy at risk. Individuals do not know which story to believe, and they accept false information as the truth. Politics is now less focused on improving the nation for its citizens but on sabotaging the opposition and gaining popularity. This polarization in politics is a direct consequence of the easily exploitable platform made by tech companies.

Who should take the blame? The documentary suggests tech companies, but I believe the blame, a little bit of it at least, is on us. We need to learn how to restrict ourselves and constantly question what we see online. This could be through a simple Google search to see different perspectives on an issue or to find other reliable sources that deal with the same topic. Doing this for every single thing we are exposed to is tiring, especially if we are tired or just don’t care as much. Our group discussed some of our human qualities (for example laziness) that make us susceptible to traps set by tech companies. On the other hand, tech companies designed this platform, and they should take responsibility for what they created. Even through it was originally made for spreading positivity and finding a way for people to connect with each other, the problem now lies in their profit model, where everything is justified if it makes profit. Therefore, I thought that taxing companies on the amount of data they process was a good idea, only if they are taxed proportionally to their revenue.

 

works cited

McKee, Sophia. “A Horse with Blinkers.” Emerald Racing Club, 21 June 2015, emeraldracingclub.wordpress.com/2015/06/21/blinkers.

Technology and Knowledge

I interviewed my parents about their experience in school. They went to school in Korea in the 1970s and the 80s. They would often tell me their experiences in school focusing on their relationship with friends and what they did for fun. In most of their elementary, middle, and high school, they didn’t have mobile devices, so their only method of communicating with their friends was through face-to-face communication or a wired telephone (my mom had the circular dialling telephone we saw in the YouTube video in elementary school). When they wanted to hang out with each other, they needed to wait at the meeting place if their friends didn’t show up on time or go to a tollbooth.

At school, their studies were focused on reading and memorizing material in textbooks. Their sole source of authority was the teachers because all of their knowledge came from them. My mom said there was also private tutoring and that she went to the library for research. They did have computers at school (my mom says middle school), but there was no Google. She used the computers for writing reports in college. My mom also watched educational channels on TV and read paper newspapers every day. She said it was nice because she had to read everything paper newspapers instead of picking information she wants like she does now.

One vastly different experience they had that was different was that they didn’t have phones, computers, tablets. Their communication with peers and the world were limited to pen, paper, and telephone. They couldn’t text their friends, and they couldn’t Google things they didn’t know. Because of this, what they knew were probably somewhat outdated and their method of transferring knowledge was slower. I also think I have a greater knowledge than them because I have the world at my fingertips. I can search up what I want to know and know things at a greater depth.

Is Ignorance Bliss? – Debate Reflection

For the “is ignorance bliss?” debate, I was on the affirmative side. In the debate, we defined ignorance as situational ignorance, where we would remain ignorant of a topic/aspect for our whole lives. Bliss was defined as complete happiness, an ideal state in which humans strive to achieve. Our arguments were:

  1. Being ignorant allows us to suffer less. The more we know, the more we tend to care. For example, we know that there is a war in Sudan, but we are ignorant enough about the situation that we don’t cry about them. Caring more about something inevitably leads to a greater impact on us. As humans, we also tend to remember negative emotions more than positive emotions.
  2. The smartest of people were not happy. It is very rare to find both a happy and knowledgeable person. We provided Virginia Woolf and Alan Turing as examples: they were gifted but led dismal lives. If Alan Turing had been ignorant of the social pressure around him, we reasoned that he would not have committed suicide. (I do admit that this example is a little far-fetched, as Turing was not unhappy because he was exceptionally smart. Instead, it was because of the social pressures of Britain at that time).
  3. Knowledge isolates people. If a person knew the date of their death, they would spend their time worrying about the ways they would die, eventually withdrawing from society and being a recluse.

The opposition’s arguments were:

  1. Ignorance causes us pain and creates danger. If we were driving a car but ignorant of stop signs or traffic lights, that would lead us to the danger of being in a car crash.
  2. Ignorance leads to isolation. If an individual was ignorant about societal norms and engaged in ignorant behavior, such as denouncing the Black Lives Matter movement, he or she would be ostracized from society.
  3. Being aware that we are ignorant dissatisfies us because we yearn for knowledge. Situational ignorance implies we know our ignorance, so if we were knowledge-seekers, the fact that we are ignorant of something would not be bliss to us.
  4. Being informed can help us decide what makes us happy. There needs to be some knowledge of the things that make us happy to achieve our ultimate goal of happiness. (To this statement, our group refuted that happiness is instinct — we decide for ourselves what makes us happy).

From this debate, the two main points of disagreement were whether more knowledge led to suffering and whether an ignorant person could know if they were happy. Both teams were not successful at attacking the core of the other team’s arguments, but I believe our team won the second clash point. To the opposition’s argument that ignorant individuals would be ignorant of the feeling of happiness, we classified happiness as an instinct, meaning they could not be unaware of their own emotions.

Rather than proving why my team’s argument was better, we tried to prove that it was good in general. The other team also committed the same mistakes as us, which makes it difficult to determine the winner of this debate.

Before this debate, I believed that ignorance was bliss. It seemed simple to me: the more I knew, the more I started to have feelings for the subject matter, which eventually led to a bigger sense of despair when things went wrong. Right now, I know that ignorance is probably not bliss. Listening to the other team’s argument about the danger caused by ignorance, I could not help but be convinced: there was no other way to refute their argument that ignorance could not lead to danger. Thus, I would like to classify myself as someone who wants to believe ignorance is bliss (when it actually is not bliss), just because it’s easier to accept ideas without questioning them. What I don’t realize yet is that happiness from knowing is greater than that from ignorance because bliss from ignorance is built on nothing. How can I be happy when that happiness comes from the fact that I don’t know a certain thing?

Given a choice between a red pill and a blue pill, I probably would still take the blue pill after some time of hesitation — not because I’m convinced it will make me happy, but because it is the route that will make me suffer less in the short run. The red pill will probably make me happier in the long term, but I don’t think I can manage to bear through until I reach that level of happiness just yet.

As individuals, we are responsible for collecting different stories of individuals and shaping our own preconceptions accordingly. We need to embrace our ignorance and escape the illusion of explanatory depth to better ourselves as individuals and correct any misconceptions we harbored to avoid harming other people.

TOK Summative Blogpost #1

Every day, we add a little more to our basket of knowledge using the eight ways of knowing: perception, reason, emotion, language, memory, faith, and intuition. The knowledge we accumulate over the years lead us to truth “in accord with fact or reality, or faithfulness to a standard”, as defined by the TOK guide. Truth is based on reality but is also characterized by faith, suggesting that truth is somewhat malleable. By classifying different, I will compare and contrast different methods of knowing and how some are more advantageous when discerning truths.

 

For abstract creations, such as art, truths are individualized. Every individual fosters different faiths, imaginations, emotional capabilities, and language abilities, making their perception of art unique. In this sense, there is no absolute truth, but some ways of knowing are more beneficial for obtaining their individualized truth. A Harry Potter novel utilizes the medium of language, which we digest and compile with emotion and imagination to form our own truths about the novel. When dissecting art, these ways of knowing are more useful than perception, for example, in which everyone senses similar things.

 

For studies in nature, the truth is more objective: same theories should be accepted in a generation but also be changing. To elaborate, people have observed that when a feather and a brick drops, the feather always lands later than the brick for centuries. They used inductive reasoning, reaching the truth that lighter objects always fall slower. Come Galileo and his Leaning Tower of Pisa experiment that showed freefall time is independent of mass. He imagined a world without air resistance, which allowed him to make one step closer to the truth we accept today. We can perceive this truth directly through this vacuum chamber experiment. Clearly, emotion, sometimes leading to irrational judgements, would not have been as helpful as perception or reasoning in proposing scientific theories, neither would have been language, open to interpretation.

 

However, some may argue that all ways of knowing are equally likely to lead to truth. For example, the Bible states that God created Adam and Eve, while scientists say evolution created humans. Believers in creationism use faith, while believers of evolution use more reasoning from substantive evidence to reach their truth. Some may argue that both are correct and that all the ways of knowing lead an individualized but equal truth, hence relativism; they are right, only if we organize arguments into categories: science, in which incorporating faith into this field of study where objectivity is the goal is not efficient, and faith, which corroborates with imagination to engender a man-made belief. Notice both cases are supported by evidence. Thus, certain ways of knowing are more beneficial for forming ideas, depending on the context of which it is received.

 

In conclusion, there exists different methods of knowing, each with its separate advantages, and different truths. However, within one frame of reference, there should only exist one truth backed up by evidence and a corroboration of different ways of knowing.

 

works cited:

Heydorn, Wendy, et. al. Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma Course Guide. Cambridge University Press, 2020.

What do I know for sure, and how do I know it?

Hi, my name is Sunny. I’m a 16-year-old girl from Korea. I like music, bubble tea, and windy days

 

What I know for certain can be classified into 3 classes: true by definition, knowledge from experience, and self-awareness.

 

First, the definition of something will always be true, because it was made up by us humans. For example, I know for certain that one second is the “unperturbed ground-state hyperfine transition frequency of the Caesium 133 atom” (NPL). Even if the definition of it changes, one second will be one second – regardless of the value of it – because scientists defined it to be that way. It is also the case for me: I am 16 years old and from Korea because humans invented the idea of years and nations.

 

On the contrary, instead of being determined by us, knowledge from experience is the result of our interactions with the past and the outside world. For example, the sun, that has been rising for the past few millennia, will probably rise again tomorrow morning, but there also is a possibility, albeit minuscule, that it will not rise. The only thing I know is that the sun has the possibility of rising. Similarly, right now I know that I like music, bubble tea, and windy days, but I may not in one day, one year, or one decade. I only know that events have a possibility – some greater than others – of happening, but not for certain that they will happen.

 

Lastly, the last truth comes from inside. Some of these facts are true only to me. For example, seeing $40 in my wallet, some may say I am poor, and others rich. However, if I think I’m rich, the truth to me is that I am rich. It is a matter of perspective – my perspective. Self-awareness also questions physical existence: we may be brains in containers. If this is the case, how do I know I exist? To this, I borrow the words of Descartes, “Cogito, ergo sum”. Even if the physical is an illusion, the fact that I am currently thinking is irrefutable.

Blogpost 4

My final product:

front view

top view

This is how the boat works in water:

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The power generated from the solar panel gets transferred to the motors. Because there are two circuits and two different motors, the power from the batteries are evenly shared, and it allows me to change the direction of one motor without affecting the other. The power from the motor then is used to spin the wooden axes that are connected to the propeller. The propellers act like paddles, going against the water’s resistance, making the boat go forward.

I was successful in making the final product move. The boat didn’t sink and stayed afloat. The motors worked in the right direction and powered the propellers well. I was successful at connecting the motors to the solar panel. Besides building the boat, I was successful at fixing the wires of the light that snapped in two and making the light turn on again.

What I could have improved on more are the propellers. First, the propellers were uneven and kept on hitting the side of the cans. Because they kept hitting the sides of the cans, I had to cut them. However, this made it so that the area that pushed the water lessened. When I stuck the propellers onto the bottle cap, I should have seen the direction of the propellers. Also, the motors were uneven and irregular. Sometimes, one would work fine while the other one turned very slowly. Other times, the other one would turn fast while the one turned slowly. Besides this, I wish I had a bigger tank to test my boat out.

This product is eco-friendly because it uses recycled bottles and cans. This product uses also solar energy. The fact that this uses solar power may affect the conumer because strong sunlight is needed to power this product.

Blogpost 3

I started to gather materials on the first day and tested the solar panels out. The solar panels wouldn’t work connected to a motor under the sunlight, so I tried to reverse the + end and – end on the engine, but it still didn’t work.

Day 1: Gather Materials

 

On the second day, I started to build my boat. Because things weren’t definite yet, instead of using hot glue to stick things together, I used electrical tape to hold things together. First, I fastened the two popsicle sticks on each side of the soda cans. Then I put the solar panel on the soda can.

front view

top view

After that, I connected the motors to the body of the boat.

top view

front view

The two motors were connected on one circuit. The circuit looked like this:

Circuit

I found out that the problem with this circuit was that one motor would turn in a clockwise direction, while the other one spun in an anti-clockwise direction, making it impossible for the boat to go forwards. For the ship to go forward, the motor needed to be turning in the same direction, but in this case, they were spinning in different directions.

 

On the third day, to fix the direction of rotation on my motors, I made changes to the circuit for the motors that each of the motors were attached to a different circuit. This is what the circuit looked like after the first modification:

modified circuit

However, I later noticed that this did not fix the problem: the secured motors were still spinning in opposite directions. To fix this problem, I made changed the direction of the + and – ends of one of the motors. Since the direction of electricity is what affects the direction of rotation for the motor, when I changed the + and – ends, the flow of electricity changed directions, rotating the motor in the opposite direction. After this modification, the circuit looked like this:

modification #2

There was one problem with this solution, though. The wires were not that secure, and they kept on falling apart. To fix this problem, instead of twisting them from two different directions, I twisted them so that they were all twisted from one side. The wires were more stable after this. This is a diagram to explain how I twisted the wires together.

This is what the boat looked like by now.

top view

front view

After this, I built the propellers, cutting the wings from plastic bottles. I glued the individual wings onto plastic bottle caps and poked a wooden stick, which would act as the axis. This is a photo of the propellers.

propellers

On one of the after-school sessions, I was working on my project, when I had an accident with the light. The light was on for a while, on the table. It was on top of the wire, so the wire burned and snapped in half. To fix this accident, I got rid of the broken wire and connected the light to the wire with the plug. Thankfully, the process was successful, and the light turned on without any problems. Here are videos of me while fixing the light and the light working.

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I glued the propellers together and glued the product together with a glue gun. Then, I tested the final product out on the water. However, there still were a couple problem with this. First, the front part of the ship that contained the motors, was too heavy. Next, the water got in through the holes in the front of the soda cans. Third, the wings got caught on the side of the soda cans, stopping the propeller from spinning. To fix the first problem, I added marbles at the back of the cans to act as a counterweight for the boat. To fix the second problem, I sealed the front with modeling clay and sealed the ends of the modeling clay with a glue gun. This added more weight to the front of the boat, but the marbles countered the weight. To fix the third problem, I cut the edges of the wings until they didn’t get caught on the edges of the soda cans. Here is the fixed version of the boat.

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After that, I painted the boat lime green. Here is the final product.

top view

front view

Blogpost 2

Sketch:

Plan:

Thursday – gather materials and finalize my plan, test if the solar panels are able to be connected to the two motors

Monday – bring soda cans and popsicle sticks to school, and build the first prototype of my boat. After building my prototype, test it out and make modifications as necessary. document blog post

Wednesday – keep on working on the boat, make modifications as necessary, get feedback from others. Document work

Friday – finalize my project,  and make it aesthetically pleasing, and work on blog post.

Blogpost 1

What is this engineering task?

The engineering task is to take a renewable energy source and convert it to electrical energy.

The product will have to take either solar power, hydropower, or any type of renewable energy to power it.

What are you thinking about doing? (this can be multiple ideas)

Embed images and links of ideas you like/don’t like

My first design is to build a boat that is powered by solar power. The boat will have a solar panel attached to a motor, which will be connected to the propellers. These propellers will be on top of the ship not be propelling water, but air. Essentially, the boat will move forward because of the flow of air.

Design #1 – the solar panels will be on top of the soda cans

My second design is to also build a boat that is powered by solar power. This is different from the first design in that the propellers will run in water; the boat will move forward as the motor is propelling the water backward.

Design #2 – the plastic tube will not be needed. The motor will be at the place where the red string is tied, and the solar panels will be on top of the plastic bottles.

My third design is to make a train that is powered by solar power. The train will look like trains from the 19th century, with several mini-trucks tagging along at the back.

Design #3 – solar panels will be on top of the first compartment.

ANALYZE those ideas: What are the pros/cons about those ideas?

Design #1

PRO: it’s environmentally friendly, as it reuses old soda cans and plastic bottles. It is also extremely light-weight, using soda cans to keep the ship afloat.

CON: the ship, if the solar panels and the motor are too heavy, might not move as fast as I want it to be, since sifting through the air is easier than water.

Design #2

PRO: the propellers go through water, which has a stronger resistance, allowing the boat to propel forwards faster.

CON: because the original design is not powered by a motor, I will have to change the design a lot, especially towards how the propellers are connected. 

Design #3

PRO: because it is a train and runs on the ground, it will be easier for me to test out the prototype.

CON: it is not very environmentally friendly at the moment; I will have to modify some of its parts to make it more friendly to the environment.

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