Oct
24
Filed Under (SW9) by Josh McGrath on 24-10-2010

In his paper entitled iSmart: The Commodification of Intelligence, author Bao Tran-Phu connects education in todays society directly to the amount of money one has. He begins by stating the fact that people in the United States who have higher levels of education almost always make more money than those with less education. However, he goes on to explain that higher education and in turn wealth, breeds further higher education and high income. Education in that sense becomes a “family treasure” that not all people are able to obtain after a certain level. Likewise, Bao Tran-Phu describes how the level of education in public schools around the country varies depending on the economic situation in the surrounding area. Areas with higher levels of income tend to have better schools, and the children at those schools are able to afford more helpful educational tools such as tudors. However, areas with low levels of income tend to have worse public schools, keeping the children in those schools from receiving the same level of education as the wealthier kids. Bao explains that education and intelligence in America have become commoditized and are controlled by those who have them.

Tran-Phu does a brilliant job using metaphors and imagery to convey his point to the reader. As with most scholarly writing, his paper had a central theme that he supported and explained throughout the paper, but the metaphors he uses and the imagery utilized enables him to more easily and effectively convey his central theme. In my writing, I did not use many metaphors or very much imagery due to the scientific nature of my paper, but I certainly could have used more. In his writing, Tran-Phu does a great job using the work of others to better support his case for the reader. He uses scholarly examples and evidence to help explain his main theme and uses a logical progression of thought to make his ideas as easy to understand as possible. In my writing, I usually try to be as straightforward and easy to understand as possible, but perhaps I could have used more specific examples as Bao Tran-Phu does in his paper.

References:

Tran-Phu, B.  2010.  iSmart: The Commodification of Intelligence.  Deliberations 11: 16-20.

Oct
24
Filed Under (SW9) by Abby Starnes on 24-10-2010

In Bao Tran-Phu’s paper “iSmart: The Commodification of Intelligence” the author discusses the impact of commodification of intelligence on society. In short, Tran-Phu argues that intelligence is becoming a commodity that is priced, bought and sold. The author references statistics for the price of education and for the earnings of people with different levels of education, among other research, to support his thesis. Tran-Phu then concludes that to get an education a person must be wealthy and in order to be wealthy a person must have an education. The author believes that this commercialization of intelligence can lead to “losing our freedom,” and a “society ruled by apathetic short-term profitability.”
Tran-Phu’s paper is effective because the author is opinionated, and his decisive tone draws the reader in. He has a strong, well flowing structure that makes the paper easy to access and follow. In addition, the author uses research in an effective manner by citing statistics and using short quotes to back up his argument. This masterful use of referencing allows the author to appear well versed on the subject without relying on other people’s words to make his point.
Tran-Phu’s paper was aimed effectively at Deliberations readers- presumably teachers, students and parents at Duke University. He integrated a variety of sources into his paper in small amounts whereas in Aquatic Invasive Species we tend to rely more heavily on in depth use of a few sources because it is more necessary to describe the technical aspects behind the research to our readership. I do think Tran-Phu picked a touchy subject, which is harder to come across in AIS.
For example, I was offended when Tran-Phu stated that there is an assumption that there is a direct correlation between intelligence and education level in the job market because “nearly all specialized jobs and positions require a degree.” Of course jobs that require an education to perform effectively are going to require an education- this does not assume that the educated person is more intelligent, it assumes that the educated person is more suitable for the job. Also, Tran-Phu argues that paying for tutoring services allows a student to “replace intellectual effort” with “a financial sum.” I found this offensive because tutoring is an effective TEACHING tool, not a replacement for learning! Impressionable students could read this paper and come to the conclusion that only unintelligent people accept tutoring help. In his conclusion Tran-Phu went on to argue that commercialization of intelligence will lead to loss of freedom. Tran-Phu acted as if education was not valued in previous generations and centuries, as if it is a new phenomenon.

Oct
24
Filed Under (SW9) by Michael Di Nunzio on 24-10-2010

Michael Di Nunzio

In “iSmart: The Commodification of Intelligence”, author Bao Tran-Phu argues that human intellect is subject to the same forces that control a market economy. In a brief introduction, Bao explains that with each increase in education level comes a corresponding jump in average annual salary. This correlation between perceived brainpower and marketability, he claims, allows intelligence to be treated as a tangible good. To support his thesis, Bao first makes an example of the tutoring market. Because tutors effectively decrease the mental strain imposed on a pupil, the author alleges that two people with inherently unequal abilities might receive the same grade. One of the students, however, would have received this grade as an indirect result of paying a tutor for assistance. Thus, perceived intelligence and the opportunities that it brings can effectively be purchased. A similar scenario stems from the sale of nootropics, drugs designed to increase cognitive performance and potentially boost test scores. Abuse of prescription medications such as Adderall and Ritalin also offer increased mental sharpness for a price, and thereby contribute further to commodification of intelligence. Bao expands on his assertions, arguing that because intelligence is now a purchasable good, it can be passed down by families and hoarded from the poor. The resulting disparity in knowledge put society in a dangerously ignorant position. Bao adduces instances in which certain policies have been based on information acquired from dubious research methods. The public, blind by a lack of knowledge, assumed that the information was correct and passively allowed the policies to be altered. The document concludes with a warning of the threats posed by the commodification of intelligence, and the assertion that this phenomenon must be eliminated.

To build his argument Bao not only cites the work of others, but also builds upon the meaning already provided in his sources. For instance, he adduces the rates of change for farming and engineering career paths to ultimately support his claim that intelligence is being safeguarded as a commodity. The relationship between these two pieces of information might not be readily discernible, yet his writing and logic make a clear connection between the two. I also tried to build upon and make connections between the discoveries of others in my review, relating concepts such as mitten crab prevention and newly developed computer algorithms. Bao’s paper has excellent logical flow and manages to effectively articulate his point while maintaining an entertaining element for the enjoyment of readers. I most admire the writer’s organization and prose. His diction is not overly dramatic, yet gives the impression that the subject being discussed is still extremely important. One large discrepancy in style between my paper and that of Bao is the type of examples used to support the thesis. Bao’ work deals primarily with economic concepts, and he therefore makes liberal use of assumptions when trying to prove his thesis. In some cases he appears to beg the question, drawing conclusions from precarious premises. For instance, Bao states that because intelligence is being greedily withheld from the masses “Dissent and free thought…will decline.”  However, dissent within a population has no historical connection with intelligence. Rather, the discontented tend to rebel regardless of how intellectually inclined they are. Because my review is based on biology, a hard science, I strove to support my arguments with more factually based knowledge. While both techniques are valid, I feel that a paper based on tangible data tends to have more substance than one centered on supposition.

Oct
23
Filed Under (SW9) by Tyler Lacy on 23-10-2010

In Bao Tran-Phu’s paper titled, iSmart: The Commodification of Intelligence he discusses how in today’s capitalistic society everything, even knowledge, has a monetary value. Tran-Phu opens his paper by correlating money to education. He talks about how on average, in our country, people with higher levels of education make more money, however, this education is tied to having money in two ways. One is the expense of post-secondary education. Tran-Phu discusses how  “children from wealthy families receive a better education than do children from poor families and access to higher education is passed down lineages as a family treasure.” Many people are prevented from attending post-secondary institutions because they do not have the means to pay for it and are virtually stuck in a low-education tier and therefore a low-earnings tier. The second way is the wealth of your secondary school. Even the level of education given by public schools in America varies greatly across the country and it has a lot to do with the money in a certain location. Areas that are wealthy (i.e. places that are expensive to live in) tend to have better public schooling whereas the opposite is also true. Tran-Phu writes about how this pattern has commoditized intelligence and is leading to a society where the people who have access to or people who have intelligence also have control over people who are less educated or less wealthy.

Tran-Phu was able to utilize images and metaphors in striking ways that made his paper more effective and his ideas more easily conveyed. His paper was written in such a way that gave him credibility and his presentation of evidence made his ideas clear and his position effective. He incorporated many techniques in his article that I see throughout all scholarly articles and that I try to use in my own writings. Tran-Phu had a central idea that he carried through the entire paper and utilized colorful metaphors, supporting evidence, and carefully planned organization to get his point across. In my papers I always try to make sure that I not only write in a matter that is easily understood and that flows from one idea to the next in a logical manner but that I also incorporate various examples and metaphors to help explain my main arguments. I saw all of these things in Tran-Phu’s article. He successfully wrote a paper that convinced the reader of his main point because his evidence and logic were well organized and explained. In academic writing, people are always synthesizing the work of others and using them to help support one’s own ideas; Bao Tran-Phu did an excellent job at this. He was able to use a scholarly paper to support nearly all of his examples and pieces of evidence. I believe that I could improve my literature review by incorporating more examples of this kind into my paper and that if I were to do that, my paper would be stronger and would more effectively convey my main arguments. Overall, Tran-Phu was able to utilize all of the major “writerly moves” of Writing 20 and present his idea in a very clear and organized fashion using means that are found throughout all types of academic writing.

REFERENCES

Tran-Phu, B.  2010.  iSmart: The Commodification of Intelligence.  Deliberations 11: 16-20.

Oct
21
Filed Under (SW9) by Stefan Cafaro on 21-10-2010

Bao Tran-Phu’s article titled, iSmart: The Commodification of Intelligence, illustrates the interesting monetary and capitalistic aspects of knowledge and its application to society. Tran-phu portrays through his descriptive metaphor filled article how education plays a primary role in achieveing a higher intelligence level and thus a higher economic value. Tran-Phu also believes that not only does knowledge play a major role in the structure of our economy but it also can be given a labeled monetary value.  He states that a student can easily put less effort into a course if that student is willing and able to invest his or her money into private tutors or other academic assistance. Meanwhile students who are less financially stable are forced to put in a greater deal of effort into their academic studies in order to reach the same academic success of a wealthier individual. The rich will get smarter and thus get richer while the poor will have to struggle to reach the “intelligence” levels that others can merely pay for.  The main writing technique that Tran-Phu utilized was incorporating examples, analogies, and metaphors throughout his paper to better illustrate his main arguments. He contrasts the applications of intelligence of the past with those of modern day society in order to better show how knowledge is becoming an increasingly economic issue. Tran-Phu believes there is a strong correlation between the amount of money one has, the amount of education once can receive, and as a result the amount of money one will eventually make. Because of this trend, it appears to be inevitable that intelligence will begin to become a commodity for those who can afford it. If you have the money to pay for the academic assistance then it is more likely that you will achieve a higher academic standard then those around you and thus eventually reach a higher level of success.  Tran-Phu also enforces his main argument by placing several large bold key points in the margins of his article. These points serve as a reminder of the main point that he is trying to make.

The writing techniques that Tran-Phu utilizes throughout his article are very similar to the same techniques that I used in my literature review and are also very similar to the techniques used by most writers. Most authors will incorporate numerous descriptive examples in their writing pieces to help the reader better grasp the points that they are trying to make. These examples are usually synthesized in some particular manner to tie together key ideas back to the main thesis of the paper. Most types of academic writing, including Tran-Phu’s article, focus on getting a centralized point across to the reader. This main argument is carried throughout the whole paper and is consistently elaborated upon with the help of outside sources and examples of the author’s choosing. Tran-Phu effectively relates a variety of different outside sources to help enforce his belief that knowledge in today’s society is increasingly separating and dismantling the free market economy.

Tran-Phu, B.  2010.  iSmart: The Commodification of Intelligence.  Deliberations 11: 16-20.