World Philosophy Day Competition 2022

This year the World Philosophy Day website asked us to consider ‘In a hyper-technologised world, the very concept of humanity is in constant evolution.  What does the future of ‘human’ look like?’  So we decided to ask the students what they thought (in approximately 200 words) and we were not not disappointed!

After receiving entries from across all Key Stages we decided to split the competition between the whole school and Sixth Form.  After the votes were cast, Evie Wallis-Fahry came out on top with this response:

Improving health and life is a good thing, but for a race that always wants more, how far would we go?  Until we are all just robots?  Improvement is an important thing, or the human race would not have come as far, granted.  But with us as humans, shouldn’t we consider the consequences of losing what makes us human? So, my argument is for pausing and realising that upgrading our phones might be a good thing, but upgrading us as humans?  That means integrity, individuality, brainpower and a heart that’s made from muscle and blood. Not one made out of wires and oil!

For our Sixth Formers, the word limit was not strictly kept to but we got these fantastic contrasting responses from Megan Andrews and Rowan Senior which can be read below:

Megan Andrews

Technology is used in every single aspect of our lives.  We’ve built a society in which, without it, it’s almost impossible to travel, heat our homes or even cook food.  As well as this, millions of people have begun to work from home using the internet which, less than fifty years ago, would seem like an unimaginable fantasy.  It’s as if as technology evolves the whole concept of being human evolves with it. So what does the future look like for humanity? Already, scientists have discovered a way to create bionic limbs that work through electrical brain signals to aid those that have lost body parts. As well as this, scientists have created whole robots with artificial intelligence that can walk, talk and learn! Does this mean humanity could gain lazer eyes in the near future, or built in jet-packs that can fly us across the world like in sci-fi movies? Probably not. Unlike Luke Skywalker or Doctor Who, the biggest threat the average person faces in their day to day lives are paper cuts and near misses with tiny, harmless spiders. Do we really need to be part-cyborg to combat those issues? Some could argue that technology may be causing a sort of devolution to humankind. Globally, people average 7 hours of screen time in a singular day whereas the average American only spends 17 minutes exercising. Does this mean that with the advancement of technology humans are getting lazier? However, with the evolution of technology comes a new selection of ways to track and improve your health. From internet connected treadmills to simple step counts on cell phones there seems to be a million and one new ways to ensure you live a long and healthy life. To truly understand what the future of humans may be, we must first ask ourselves what we believe it means to be ‘human’. Personally, I believe that to be human it also means to be able to love one another and to be willing and wanting to learn. With the new access to the internet and thousands of new scientific discoveries every day, the need to learn is almost guaranteed but hopefully in the future we can evolve to become a species that accepts one another for who we are, and with the use of technology, find a way to connect us to the ones we love no matter our distance. So, in conclusion, I think that, although we may not be half robot in the future, humanity can still evolve for the better.

Rowan Senior

It is no secret that civilisation and technology are exponentially becoming more advanced in shorter and shorter amounts of time as society develops. Comparing this to the incredibly slow rate of evolution via natural selection tells us that nature is not going to be able to help us keep up with ourselves and our technology. In these engineered and artificial environments that we live in; genetic flaws will not be naturally weeded out, and random DNA mutations cannot be relied upon to keep our biological bodies in tune with the technological world. In order to not be left behind by the accelerating train of this increasingly artificial world, we must upgrade ourselves to better fit our fast-changing environments. We already see people missing limbs or body parts use prosthetics, or even create their own. People lacking an eye can create a flashlight or even a camera to fit in their socket, using technology in their own bodies to their advantage. We still have a long way to go before replacing flesh with machines becomes safe and commonplace, but implants and bionics are fast-approaching realities. In a world developing as fast as ours, it would be foolish to cling to outdated ideas of body and self; we must take the opportunity to interface with the machines we create. Our flesh is a constraint, a relic of the past to be built upon and replaced, allowing us to rise above the current limits of humanity.

They really showcase that the conclusion is far less important than the reasoning behind it, so we felt that both are worthy winners. 

All winners will receive a copy of Julian Baggini’ ‘The Pig That Wants to be Eaten and 99 Other Thought Experiments’ which we hope continue to further their philosophical curiosity.  We cannot wait to find out what next year’s topic is and more importantly, how our students rise to the challenge in providing an ‘answer’ to it!

Mr Eaves and the RPE Department