A Warning to the Future

Intended learning outcomes and artefacts

Level 5 will teach you to read science fiction and scientific articles and write an acedemic essay.

You will learn about predictions as well as precise, academic writing skills. To improve even further, you will belong to a peer-review group and write a journal about your progress.

To show what you have learned, you will write an academic scientific essay (~800-1500 words) in a chosen specialisation area. You write, draft and publish your article using academic, scientific English.

Lessons - your learning path

Lesson 5-1. Introduction lecture on the future, predictions and prophesisation. Here I want to show student examples, but we will analyse them later. I will teach the grammar on will and might. We practice predicting by reading the article State of the world.


lesson 5-2. We carry on where we left off from 5-1 by reading a text on sustainable supermarkets. We will expand our vocabulary and have discussions using will and might.


Lesson 5-3. This is the second lecture where we cover grammar, in this case participle clauses. Here I need to figure out some clever work sheets to teach them event order, time, cause, effect.


Lesson 5-4. We crack on with more reading: an article on astereoids. This one is easier, so we complement it with more reading: A threat to bananas. We discuss using participle clause grammar.


Lesson 5-5. Mastery test and maybe something more? I'm thinking analysing student examples and co-assessing them.

Lessons 5-6 until 5-12, the students start writing their essay. But every other lesson they have draft discussions with their peers.

Purpose, core contents, assessement for learning

"I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time - when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness."

- Carl Sagan, The Demon-haunted World (1995: p. 28)


The future of tomorrow, conceivable but unpredictable, fascinates. Man watches the skies and dreams of distant worlds, to travel the stars in hopes of grand adventure or encountering sentient species. What might we discover on alien planets? Similarly, how will we evolve on our own celestial body? Will we discover unfathomable technological powers or develop into more machines than man? The great unknown; full of danger or magnificient prosperity?

Depicted in many works of fiction as either an enabler or a threat to mankind, the future of science stimulates our fantasy and awakens our curiosity. In science fiction, we gaze towards the stars and the purpose to “To boldly go where no one has gone before”.

A world of technological wonder, the utopian bright and sleek landscape, miraculously free of famine and disease. Concepts from Jules Verne’s 1870 Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea presented an underwater vehicle that eventually came true - the submarine is no longer a work of fiction. In George Orwell’s 1984, written in 1948, Big Brother was watching, portraying a bleak future in this classic dystopian novel. Today we are perpetually online; are we like his soulless people, experiencing thought control? In Bioware’s interactive medium Mass Effect from 2007, we take the controls and play a significant role in the future of the universe. Mankind fights side-to-side along alien races against the terrors of deep space.

Past concepts of the future might be closer than we think. Elon Musk tells us about AI that: “[Artificial intelligence] is just digital intelligence. And as the algorithms and the hardware improve, that digital intelligence will exceed biological intelligence by a substantial margin.

"It's obvious. Ensuring that the advent of AI is good, or at least we try to make it good, seems like a smart move.

We're not paying attention. We worry more about what name somebody called someone else, than whether AI will destroy humanity. That's insane.

We're like children in a playground. ... The way in which a regulation is put in place is slow and linear. If you have a linear response to an exponential threat, it's quite likely the exponential threat will win. That, in a nutshell, is the issue."


- Elon Musk

Axios, season 1, episode 4 (25 November 2018)


We turn once again to the sky and ask ourselves; what can we possibly do? The answer: we research, we predict, we understand, search for ways to improve, to make life better for our fellow man, and ultimately share it with others.

You can make an impact. You will use your expertise to tell others what you have learned. What you will write and talk about might be found by future generations. You are going to create a Time capsule and within your contributions will be sealed. What will you share with the future?


Core contents:

  • Theoretical and complex subject areas, also of a more scientific nature, related to students' education, chosen specialisation area, societal issues and working life ; thoughts, opinions, ideas, experiences and feelings; cultural expressions in modern times and historically, such as literary periods.

  • Societal issues, cultural, historical, political and social conditions, and also ethical and existential issues in different contexts and parts of the world where English is used.

  • Contemporary and older literature and other fiction in various genres such as drama.

  • Texts of different kinds and for different purposes, such as agreements, indepth articles and scientific texts.

Knowledge requirements

  • Understanding of spoken and written English, and also the ability to interpret content.

  • The ability to express oneself and communicate in English in speech and writing.

  • The ability to use different language strategies in different contexts.

  • The ability to adapt language to different purposes, recipients and situations.

  • The ability to discuss and reflect on living conditions, social issues and cultural features in different contexts and parts of the world where English is used.

(Skolverket, 2011)

Successsful students will be able to:

  • Read sci-fi and articles on a chosen area and use sources in your own predictions.

  • Write an academic essay with correct grammar, spelling, vocabulary and structure.

  • Discuss and reflect from personal and scientific perspectives.

Tools

Librarians' movies 1, 2, 3